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Buying a family plane?

Okay so as I mentioned in my introductory thread a while ago, my goal once I have the PPL is to fly around with my family. Wheter this idea in general has any merit was extensively discussed in this old thread by @BeechBaby and should not be the main topic here.

Rather, I’d like to ask you for your opinion on what type of plane to buy (and when) for doing so.
Since my wife just gave birth to our little daugther, my family now consists of two children and two adults.
So the mission profile looks like this:

  • Minimum 4 seats. I certainly wouldn’t mind five or six either.
  • My wife and I are both tall (1,77 m and 1,92 m respectively) so there should be ample leg- and headroom
  • Weight should not be a large issue when planing trips, nor should space. A pram and at two large suitcases should fit in. At least 350-400 kg plus fuel should be possible.
  • Range is of minor importance. I don’t think my family wants to fly legs longer than 2.5 hours, maybe 3.
  • Some speed would be nice to get to places in those 2.5 hours though, although anything faster than 140-150kts is illusionary given the budget I guess.
  • Flying will be VFR only for the next couple of years, around Germany and the neighbouring countries mainly. Wheter buying a VFR-only plane now or keeping IFR update capability in mind from the start is something I don’t know, your opinion please!
  • Budget wise it is a question of buy a cheap old plane now (20 – 30k€) or wait for greater budgetary leeway in the future. As discussed in the elitism thread I am way too young to have earned enough for a “serious” newish IFR tourer just yet. In 10 years the budget might be something like 100k€, but should one rent until then?
  • Realistically usage will be no more than 30 hours a year for the next couple of years, might get more after then. Does it make sense at all to buy for such a low-hours pilot?
  • Since we’re talking about my first plane here, handling it shouldn’t be massively difficult. Although, the upside of being young and clever is that you learn fast. Anyways, don’t want it to be a doctor killer (note: my wife is a doctor too )

So basically, I want the eierlegende Wollmilchsau to use a fantastic German expression which is lamely translated as “jack of all trades” by Google

@Mooney_Driver recently PMed me a few links to planecheck to demonstrate that one doesn’t need to be a millionaire to buy your own plane, and this encouraged me to ask the wider EuroGA community for your opinion. So there you go!

Novice pilot
EDVM Hildesheim, Germany

Responses to the ‘practical but not too expensive family plane question’ often fall into two camps:

1) Don’t buy a plane if you’re only flying 30 hrs a year and can find something suitable to rent.

2) Buy a roughly 40-60 year old C182 or PA28-235 (or similar) but only if you are genuinely interested in owning and maintaining something for its own sake, and for an extended period.

I wouldn’t fly if I didn’t own the plane so I am unlikely to be of any great help in weighing other options!

Weight should not be a large issue when planing trips, nor should space. A pram and at two large suitcases should fit in. At least 350-400 kg plus fuel should be possible.

So we are necessarily talking “big singles” for that matter.
So what means “plus fuel”? Let’s say four hours, which weigh another 150 kgs.
So in terms of useful load, we are looking at 500-550 kgs useful load.
Very few singles can do that. You will want to talk to @Cheshunt. He was in exactly your position. He bought a C210.
However, don’t ever think you can buy anything like this for less than 60k, unless it’s 50 years old.
So, partnership will be your only option. In fact, if you only intend on flying 30 hours a year, that would make sense.

Actually, I don’t think you need “350-400kgs plus fuel” if your children are so small.

Range is of minor importance. I don’t think my family wants to fly legs longer than 2.5 hours, maybe 3.

That’s not how it works in practice. If you want travel in Europe, you’ll want at least 6 hours endurance, in order to be able to fly to parts of Eastern Europe, Greece, Italy, the Baltics.

Mainz (EDFZ), Germany

In my mind the Piper Archer PA28-181 would be a very good first acquisition although it will be on the slow side compared to the expected 140 kts. It sits 4 adults and a full load of fuel, is very nimble and is capable of flying all over Germany and neighbouring countries to gain experience and see if this is something that you and your family will want to continue to do in the future. But it has only one door and some (mechanics) say they are not very well built. They do have one of the most bulletproof engines available and can fly on both a variety of fuels.

You should not start out too ambitious. It is good to gain some experience before deciding what you really want. Renting for a while could also be a strategy.

Last Edited by Aviathor at 09 May 16:54
LFPT, LFPN

On the principle you buy an aircraft that achieves 80-90% of your mission, and that is easy to form a syndicate around, then an Archer 2 is suitable.

With fuel at the tabs it can lift your 350kg useful load and deliver 2 1/2 hours with VFR reserves. This at 120KTAS, although a clean Archer 2 will deliver 125 KTAS.

It is fixed gear and fixed prop and about the most predictable maintenance budget in GA (read predictably low), outside of permit to fly simple tailwheel aircraft.

I did some hour building in one (back in the 1970’s) and covered most of Western North America. I prefer a Warrior, but the Archer adds over 100 lbs of useful load.

Upgrading to light IFR is straightforward these days, an IFR GPS (you can get a KL94 for around €1,200), and a 8.33 Nav/Com (GNC 255A) will cover your needs.

Oxford (EGTK)

Gentlemen, four seaters will not fit 4 persons, a pram and two suitcases.

Mainz (EDFZ), Germany

RobertL18C wrote:

On the principle you buy an aircraft that achieves 80-90% of your mission, and that is easy to form a syndicate around, then an Archer 2 is suitable.

Or Grumman AA5 Tiger? Robin DR400-180? Maybe a bit more fun than the Piper, depending on taste. I believe the Robin needs a hangar.

To meet the spec as posted, the C182 and PA28-235 are (as written) the typical suggestions.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 09 May 17:10

This is two adults and two children, with a large luggage area with a max loading of 200 lbs. Say 380 lbs row 1, 120 lbs row 2, and 120lbs in the luggage bay.

In any event an Archer with fuel at the tabs is able to carry four adults, perhaps not generously built adults, and they do so regularly. However, this would be with minimal luggage.

The Robin DR400 or 500 is an excellent choice, but needs hangarage and they are not as cheap to buy.

Oxford (EGTK)

Well you could in a Mooney…and more….notwithstanding W&B….due to the unique top-loading baggage door….I’ve had substantially more than that in a J…

YPJT, United Arab Emirates

Sounds like you need a PA32 Saratoga, Cherokee Six or Lance. Lots and lots of space with nose locker and large rear door. Good cruise speeds 155kts in the Saratoga. While they have six seats they are a true four person plane with fulll fuel and 6.5hours endurance. Sadly they are out of production….so now you just have to find a nice one!

How about a small group of say 4 likeminded people if you want to fly 30hrs a year.

Alex
Shoreham (EGKA) White Waltham (EGLM)
351 Posts
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