The other day, I was talking to a friend and he explained to me some of the stress and hassles of airline travel, as he’d recently gone on a number of business trips. Weather delays, maintenance repairs, and then there’s the waiting in line with the TSA strip searches via electronic devices. They were tired of standing in line, waiting in terminals, and trying to get their tight itinerary back on track every time an airliner was late. Since I know little bit about aviation, they asked me if they should learn how to fly and buy their own aircraft.
You see, owning your own airplane and flying it yourself, if you have no experience, might only be good if you are going short distances, and the weather is good. A new pilot, or VFR aviator cannot fly when the weather is bad because that takes an IFR rating, the ability to fly using instruments even if you can’t see outside, something which takes hundreds of hours, lots of practice, and a good chunk of change to learn how to do correctly. Also, owning in aircraft isn’t cheap, and just as the airliners have occasional breakdowns, or maintenance problems causing aircraft delays, the same thing can happen to your own privately owned aircraft.
Then there is the insurance, tied-owns fees, and all the rules and regulations of the FAA. One thing that airline travelers may not realize is that most of the airline delays are actually cause due to rules and regulations and the Federal Aviation Administration, as those airlines must comply with all those rules. Those same rules are rather harsh on a private aircraft owner, although they are a different set of rules, they can surely become a hassle very quickly.
Next, I’d like to talk to you about the cost of owning versus flying on an airliner. It’s not really comparable, and even with ticket prices at a premium due to the fuel costs, if you own your own private airplane you still have to put the fuel in it, and it can put you into the poor house very quickly with repairs, annual inspections, and the cost to get your pilots license and the ratings you need so that your aircraft is actually a viable solution to short range travel, such as traveling across the state or to the state next door.
If you’re traveling halfway across the country, you are usually better off to take an airliner unless you have a very expensive airplane, one which is very difficult to fly, and is surely not suited for anyone that doesn’t have a pilot in their employ. Although it might sound like a great idea to own your own aircraft, it’s generally not. If you’d like to discuss this further you may shoot me an e-mail. Please consider all this and think on it.