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Operating and Flying a 1970 Piper Arrow, and operating costs discussion

Feels like your maintenance is on the higher side, which is fully to be expected in a new-to-you aircraft. Always takes at least a year or two to “catch up” with a new mechanic, gremlins etc. I think this will drop down to around 5-6K/year eventually.

Hi Patrick,

are these numbers inclusive of VAT? Are the hours hobbs or flight time? Even at Rendsburg prices, the fuel cost seems low…

Don‘t bet on the maintenance going down much though. You will see that every year, some stuff breaks, needs renewing, ADs come out, etc. As Robert says, you are missing a fund especially for avionics modernizations; that‘s a biggie. But then again, it doesn‘t matter for the total whether you put this into a fund line or into the puchases or maintenance line. I understand that this tool is not so much for calculating future hourly expenses, but just as a recap at the end of the year.

Your hull value (if it really is only 50k) is likely way too low. More like 80k probably. 50 k is not going to get you any replacement aircraft currently, only some money to make a loss a little less painful.

One can always argue if and in how far the maintenance/airworthiness spend is a fixed cost or a variable cost. I tend to be in the camp that it is mostly a fixed cost (at least on a aircraft the flies less than 200h per year). Things will break / will need doing for airworthiness reasons either way, no matter if you fly or not. So yes, most of the cost if such an aircraft will of be the fixed type. Which would make it worthwhile to try to fly it some more in the future. All the best!

Last Edited by boscomantico at 24 Dec 05:41
Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany

Thanks for sharing Patrick.

Like we have an ‘airport database’ would it be a nice idea to come up with a ‘cost database’? We could do this for the most common types, like C172, PA28, SRXX. Need to carefully define the cost categories. I know that individual circumstances (hangar expenses for instance) may vary wildly but if there are 10-20 of each type in the Excel, things start to average out.

My little Bristell does not seem to be a good benchmark for the cost of flying. I did not look at it in detail, but I’ll probably end up at 80-90 euros/hr (not counting depreciation). I almost feel ashamed!

Private field, Mallorca, Spain

Also thanks for sharing Patrick

Always interesting to see what people budget, you’re no exception
The whole exercise is more difficult than one might think. Without going into detailing, I’m missing prop provision, the one for the engine seems on the low side, and there is none for the panel nor the hull. The actual price increase on the market has not much todo with the real value of an aircraft, and I can’t see how a 50 year old hull would sell for more, in say 10 years from now

Quite a few people, lured no doubt by ownership, have over the years asked me “what is your hourly cost?“. To which I reply that I won’t know until my relationship with this aircraft is terminated, hopefully by sale. Only then can one do the final numbers juggling, and give an hourly rate.

ain't the Destination, but the Journey
LSZF, Switzerland

Patrick wrote:

Obviously, the most expensive and most volatile position is maintenance. While it is our first complete year of operation and I have no comparison data, I do think this year’s maintenance costs are on the high side and I would expect this to be somewhat less next year.

Definitely on the high side. My club pays less than half of this in maintenance. Of course a retract with prop control will have higher maintenance costs than fixed-gear fixed-prop, but not that much. Particularly considering you can design your own maintenance programme, while we use a CAMO which means that every single SB is adhered to. Also we have a policy to have no inop equipment.

(Well, even as a club we could use a self-declared maintenance programme. Two reasons we do not. We provide aircraft to the Voluntary Flying Corps and they require a CAMO. Also, it takes some effort to handle the maintenance when you fly 1600 hours/year with five aircraft and we don’t have anyone in the club who is capable and willing to take this on.)

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

Hence my Q above. Not just “on the high side”; there is something very deeply wrong going on here.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I would not say so.

  • On a fifty year old complex aircraft, something will break / need replacing EVERY YEAR
  • Parts are super-expensive, and getting more and more expensive every year
  • Every mechanic‘s work hour at any respectable commercial shop costs 100€, give or take

Unless you do a lot of work yourself, are in some club environment, or have a means of getting parts more cheaply, these are simply unpeasant facts.

Last Edited by boscomantico at 24 Dec 11:07
Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany

Peter wrote:

Hence my Q above. Not just “on the high side”; there is something very deeply wrong going on here.

Patrick’s maintenance costs would not be dissimilar to those of our club’s Arrow.

EIWT Weston, Ireland

Thanks for sharing, Patrick.

Some more details would be great:
- How much of the 10k maintenance is planned (100h, 50h, JNP, etc.) vs. unplanned (e.g. the broken starter) ?
- On insurance: What percent of hull value is deductible (Selbstbehalt) ?
- On memberships/subscriptions: Looks like you only need data for a 530 or so – no charts or expensive stuff – right?

Congratulations on your cheap hangar space!


I like to live happily in ignorance of the overall cost so I can pretend to myself it’s lower. I could never keep such a detailed record!
For my M20J the base annual costs £2000 with probably another £500 in labour for defect rectification and AD/SB work and another £500 for the ARC. I also expect £1000 a year for some parts that will need replacing and a few hundred for a 50-hour and an oil change, so all in all €5000 seems about right.

EIMH, Ireland
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