What is the best resource to help a group decide what airplane to buy?
Our local flying club of 30 members is looking at buying a plane. We are having a difficult time deciding what aircraft will fit our needs the best. What resource(s) (Test, Questionnaire, Survey, Web Site) will help us decide?
- Anonymous7 years agoFavorite Answer
There are a lot of online resources, and a few books on the subject. I'd start with a google search: http://www.google.com/search?q=starting+a+flying+c... The first 10 hits alone should get you started.
I operate a club with more members than that, and I've run a flight school as well, so I think I'm a pretty good resource. The first thing you need to think about is how your members use an airplane. How much cross-country vs local flying do they do? if cross-country, how far do they fly on average? How much VFR vs IFR flying is done? How many pax do they usually carry? What is the average size/weight of members and their families or friends who will be flying with them? What is the nature of your area, such as density altitude in the summer? Is it mountainous, or prairie? Desert or maritime? Metropolitan airport or rural? What is the experience level of your members? Do you have qualified instructors in your membership to keep people current in all aircraft types? Who does the maintenance and are there local facilities to maintain a particular plane model or its equipment? Whats the climate like? Will the plane be hangared, kept under a t-shade, or parked outside?
You've got to look at insurance costs, maintenance costs, and financing costs, as well as airplane performance, operating capability, operating complexity, and upkeep issues, in addition to price or direct operating costs. Based on how many hours per year the club might fly on average, you can calculate what the fixed and variable costs will be to come up with an hourly price to see if it fits the budget. There are resources to help you calculate operating and mx costs of specific airplane models. You've got to crunch the numbers or you'll simply be guessing.
Once you put all that in a bag and shake it around, you'll start to have an idea what kind of airplane to purchase and how much you can afford. Or, you could go the simple, one-size fits all route and get a Cessna 182. It can check most of your boxes most of the time. Good capacity and performance, not too complex or expensive to maintain and insure, easy to fly, a good instrument platform, and not too much of an airplane for student members to learn to fly either.