What airplane should today's student pilot/renter expect?

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My partner and I are contemplating a leaseback to our local flight school/pilot center in
Austin, TX (or a third partner). I believe you have written that this the least desirable
course of ownership to reduce cost. Setting that side for a moment, if you were to buy a
plane to lease back that you your self would use 15 hours per month, what would it be?
We have our eye on gently used 2005 DA40 with g1000 and KAP, a 2007 DA40-XL with
the Garmin AP, and a 2007 SR-20 - both new. The 20 and the XL are loaded, WAAS
enabled planes. The rental rate on the DA40-180cs is $149 wet. We think the XL would
rent at $179, and the SR-20 $199. The 20 is a bit less money and has 600 hours tip to
tail maintenance. Of course, it burns more fuel as you know, when it's off the line for
maintenance it's not generating revenue, and the insurance is higher. With all that said,
are renters expecting to have at least the choice for the latest generation aircraft? With
the higher rental rate, we could rent fewer hours and still be OK financially. The flight
school owners are Diamond all the way and although certified to teach on Cirrus, they
want only Diamonds on the line. However, they are now open minded to the SR-20.
Bottom line: will a meaningful number rental pilots step up to the next level when there
are perfectly good DA-40s on the line? Would you rather own the DA40-180, DA40-XL,
or SR-20 for rental purposes?

-- Scott Zodin, April 13, 2008


I wouldn't expect renters to pay a dime extra for an XL DA40 compared to an earlier model. Renters don't tend to use the autopilot for anything other than wing-leveling. The flight schools at our airport (KBED, a very rich area) could not succeed with the SR20 at $185-200/hour. Nobody wanted to fly the airplane, especially given the extensive checkout requirements. The DA40 with the G1000 should be easier to rent because the G1000 is becoming a standard a lot of people will have experience with it or want experience with it (by contrast, Avidyne has become a Cirrus-only company).

If I wanted to lose as little money as possible leasing back to a flight school, I would get the oldest/cheapest DA40 possible.

-- Philip Greenspun, April 13, 2008

Thanks Philip.

-- Scott Zodin, April 14, 2008

We decided on a 2006 DA40. No leaseback. We will bite the bullet and have a nice plane just for ourselves.

-- Scott Zodin, April 19, 2008

Scott, Good call. I think the issue is really glass/no glass. I�m just starting out, and the truth is I will probably never fly steam gauges. I know many a pilot that says to �learn on steam then go glass later�, or �you can get a 172 anywhere in the world with steam gauges�. WRT the former time in type matters, and I�d rather just pay up now. WRT the latter, I�m not going to some place to rent a 172, just not why I�m learning to fly�

Enjoy the plane!

-- fabio savoldelli, April 25, 2008