by Dr. Anna Serbinenko 



Let’s talk money for a moment. I observe several dozen fresh pilot license holders every year, many of which go the similar path: “got driver’s license, bought a car, got pilot license, have to buy a plane now”. But you also might have heard a saying that there are only two happy days in airplane (or boat, actually) ownership – the day you buy it and the day you sell it. So let’s look at our options.


I base my analysis on current Vancouver prices. Your local numbers might be different, but the ideas remain the same.

Buying Your Own Airplane

There are some advantages in having your own wings. You get the freedom without strings attached – almost.



Renting Aircraft

Pretty much all pros and cons of owning the aircraft are the opposite of pros and cons of renting one. It allows you to carefree go flying when you feel like it, and forget about it when something else more important comes up. Moneywise, my calculation came to about 200 hours per year break-even point owning an airplane and renting it. If you expect to fly less than 200 hours in a year, it is cheaper for you to rent it. If it’s more than 200 hours, it may be cheaper to own.

However, what’s the price of having choices and picking from half a dozen different types of planes and even match the color of the plane to your handbag? What’s the price of the freedom of doing all sorts of training any time or the safety net of someone always watching out for your safety?

Middle Ground

There’s a “semi-happy” medium between always renting and fully owning an airplane. It’s fractional ownership. Models vary from half-owners to groups of couple dozen people. You get the advantage of less rigid structure, share overhead cost like insurance and parking, and pay direct cost, i.e. mostly fuel for the hours you fly. Often works beautifully until three partners decide to take their families on vacation with the plane at the same time, some want to spend money on the plane and upgrade avionics, or someone does un-insured damage to aircraft, whose repair has to be paid from the owners’ pockets. These arrangements can also be hard to get out of, if you decide not to continue with it.


So what to do? Only you can answer! Define your needs and wants, and do your math. One thing is sure on today’s market is that it is easier to buy a plane than to sell it. So take your time!



About the author. Anna Serbinenko is class 1 airplane and class 1 aerobatic instructor, and an airshow performer. Anna teaches flying in her school Canadian Flight Centre that was established in 1979. The school prides itself in training “from tailwheel to turbine”, and its graduates leave for their jobs with a variety of training on 10 different types of planes in their logbook. Read more on and