10 Most Affordable Aircraft Financing Options of 2021

AeroAvion

Aircraft Finance – Best Aviation Financing Options of 2021

Aircraft Financing

Are you in the market for a new aircraft? New to the world of aircraft finance? Well, here we have provided a quick guide on Aircraft financing options.

Aircraft financing is not as intimidating as it seems and it can be very similar to purchasing a new car. Similar to cars, aircraft financing sticks for a term amount, interest, APR with a monthly payment.

However, even though it is similar it is important to understand the intricacies and options before choosing a financing partner.

Types of Lenders

When it comes to aviation finance there are two types of lenders. Aviation-focused lenders who focus solely on aviation products, and traditional lenders who specialize in a plethora of products. There is no real advantage to either or other than the fact that aviation lenders tend to guide you through the process with insurance guidance when purchasing a new aircraft.

Generally speaking, most loan providers use your aircraft as collateral allowing you to borrow 60% to 100% of an aircraft’s value. A typical aircraft finance term is 4% at 20 years – This seems to be the average term length of those we surveyed.

Monthly payments are similar to a mortgage payment. Depending on the lender you can opt to pay less principle and more interest payments in the first few years of financing. Minimum monthly payments can get financers around 2% of the principal paid in the first year.

Comparison of 10 Aircraft Financing Lenders

We have listed some of the most popular aircraft financing options. This will give you an Idea of the amortization rates and percentages of leasing

Lender Amount APR Terms Lengths Aircraft Types & Limitations

Up to $10,000

4%

5 to 20 Years

Experimental, kit, light sport, single-engine piston, twin-engine piston, turboprop, turbine, helicopter, waterbird, antique aircraft

Flexible

4.49%

Up to 25 Years

All Types

$5000 to $100,000

Flexible

Flexible

All Types

Flexible

Varies

Up to 20 Years

Corporate jets, Business Jets or Turbo Props up to 20 years of age

$65,000 - $100,000

Varies

Up to 20 Years

Piston (Single & Twin), Turbo Prop, Jet Aircraft, Helicopter

Flexible

Varies

Up to 20 Years

All Types

Flexible

Competitive

Up to 20 Years

Piston, Turbo Prop, Jet, Experimental, Upgrades & Overhauls

$75,000 to $1 million

Varies

Up to 20 Years

Single-engine piston, multi-engine piston, single-engine turboprop, multi-engine turboprop, jet engine

Starting at $5 million

Varies

5 to 10 Years

New or preowned aircraft less than 10 years old

Flexible

Varies

Up to 20 Years

Piston, Turbines, Engines & Avionics, Jet Aircraft

How much does an Aircraft Cost?

There are many costs that make up the purchase price of an aircraft. Factors such as Age, Damage history, Avionics, and more. It’s important to do your due diligence when looking for an aircraft as often prices are not linear. Many online tools and resources provide guidance on determining the fair price of an aircraft. You can also check out our guide on How Much Does It Cost to Own A Plane here.

Light-Sport Aircraft 

Light sport aircraft are a cheap category of aircraft that you can purchase used on the low end for around $15,000 – $25,000. The cheapest Cessna aircraft is a Cessna Skycatcher (according to business insider) which is classified as a light-sport aircraft. These do not require a regular pilot’s license to fly which opens the barrier to entry. However, light sport aircraft come with reduced functionality in terms of weight and allowed flying conditions. Light-Sport aircraft may be easier to find financing for but may level out when it comes to insurance costs.

Single Engine Aircraft

The most common finance option is the single-engine aircraft; They are the most popular choice for people purchasing their first aircraft. These are surprisingly affordable; you can usually get a Single Engine Aircraft for around $20,000 to $50,000 which is not much different than owning a car.

Multi-Engine Aircraft

Multi-engine planes are an interesting category that appeals to people looking for redundancy and speed. However, these are some of the most expensive options to get into when purchasing an aircraft. Multi-engine aircraft can range from $70,000 to $200,000 depending on the type and age. In addition, with two engines, maintenance costs can double.

Jet Aircraft

Jet Aircraft are the most expensive of the bunch. A Jet Aircraft will set you back anywhere from $700,000 – $4 Million upfront. Maintenance rules are more strict and variable expenses increase dramatically. Oftentimes users have to find financing for maintenance and other costs.

Light Sport Aircraft

$15,000 to $25,000

Single Engine

$20,000 to $50,000

Multi-Engine

$70,000 to $200,000

Jet Aircraft

$700,000 to $4,000,000

Read more about Aircraft costs in our blog article here: How Much Does It Cost to Own A Plane – Is It Worth It?

These 4 vary drastically in price range and have a far range of different use cases.

Alternative Payment Options for Aircraft

There are many alternative ways to pay for aircraft such as personal loans, aircraft leases, flight clubs & partnerships, and cash.

Personal Loans

Personal loans are also a great avenue to purchasing aircraft. However, it requires a much better score in comparison to traditional options. Personal loans can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $70,000 depending on the provider. Generally, speaking you can find an interest rate from 3%-4% depending on a variety of factors such as credit score, loan term, and more.

Aircraft Leases

Aircraft leases are less common with smaller aircraft, yet more beneficial with larger Jet or Turbo Prop types. Aircraft leases are defined by the Federal Aviation Administration as either Wet or Dry leases. The Aircraft owner retains all the title, ‘Bill of Sale’ rights to the aircraft yet grants operational rights to a lessee. When owning a Jet aircraft, leasing out your aircraft when you are not using it is a common method of aircraft cost savings.

Flight Clubs / Partnerships

Flight Clubs and Partnerships are essentially a group of people (approx. 2-500) who decide to share ownership of an aircraft. When on the smaller side these can be referred to as private partnerships. When on the larger side these are often referred to as flight clubs. A partnership generally split financing and fees between all members of the group making it cheaper for all parties involved. Flight clubs often introduce membership fees and dues in order to cut costs.

Cash

We highly recommend staying away from this option due to the uncertainty surrounding the IRS and tax considerations. However, cash has been a long tried and true method of purchasing aircraft. Make sure you do know the rules surrounding cash payments and how it affects the FAA Bill of Sale.

Additional Costs to Consider when Purchasing an Aircraft

Unfortunately, purchasing the aircraft is not the only thing you have to consider. There are many other costs that go into owning and operating an aircraft.

Aviation Insurance

Just like cars Aviation insurance is required for any aircraft. The cost of aviation insurance can vary based on price, performance, common fail points, and many other factors. In addition, the more complex an aircraft is, the higher the insurance may be. Small aircraft insurance runs about $1,000 to $2,000 per year but can go much higher depending on the value of your aircraft. This can increase drastically when purchasing multi-engine or jet aircraft.

Storage – Hanger or Tie Down

Storing your aircraft is also a consideration that many forget. A usual rate for an outside tie-down is $50 to $100 per month. However, If you purchased a new aircraft you are probably going to want to keep it in a closed hangar. Hangar costs vary based on space and availability. Different airports offer these at different rates so you may want to explore the costs before purchasing.

Aircraft Maintenance and Overhaul Costs

Surprisingly, not only do you have to account for maintenance but you also have to save for aircraft overhauls. Maintenance costs can vary based on the type and performance of the aircraft. Overhauls are required by the FAA and the aircraft manufacturer. These are routine checks that ensure your engine is in good condition. Aircraft overhauls are based on engine time and vary differently based on engine type and performance. Aircraft engine overhauls can usually range up to $25,000.

Variable Costs – Fuel and Oil

Variable costs are defined as costs that constantly change when it comes to aircraft ownership. Generally, these costs are associated with Fuel, Oil, Filter Changes, and any other upkeep items that don’t have a solidified price structure. At a really good time of the year, 100LL Aviation fuel can cost anywhere from $3-$5 per gallon.

Airworthiness Directives

Another hidden cost that people don’t factor in is airworthiness directives. Many aircraft have airworthiness directives issued by the FAA or the aircraft manufacturer. Airworthiness directives are similar to recalls for aircraft, however instead of the manufacturer paying it’s the responsibility of the aircraft owner.

Finance Or Lease

One of the most universal questions to ask when purchasing an aircraft is whether you should finance or lease. A lot of that answer depends on your budget parameters. This can be a huge determining factor when choosing the category and class of your aircraft. It’s important to understand the extensive financing opportunities or leasing arrangements available to us as pilots.

Finance Or Lease

One of the most universal questions to ask when purchasing an aircraft is whether you should finance or lease. A lot of that answer depends on your budget parameters.

This can be a huge determining factor when choosing the category and class of your aircraft. It’s important to understand the extensive financing opportunities or leasing arrangements available to us as pilots.

Financing

Financing can be the most straightforward option as you receive the title or as most commonly known ‘Bill of Sale’. This is usually followed by a loan amount over a term with interest payments in mind.

Leasing

Aircraft leasing is less common; however, the options are out there. An Aircraft lease is a transfer of an aircraft without a Bill of Sale or title transfer. Aircraft leases are regulated by the FAA to monitor and record aircraft registries. With aviation leases, it is considered that an aircraft owner is leasing it out to a lessee. The aircraft owner retains the title, Bill of Sale but transfers rights and operational privileges to the lessee.

In the eyes of the FAA, there are two types of aircraft leases: ‘Wet Lease’ & ‘Dry Lease’

A Wet Lease is one where the Owner provides crew and operational assistance to the aircraft. This is most commonly compared to chartered operations where the aircraft lessee does not necessarily know how to fly.

A Dry Lease is one where only the aircraft is provided to the lessee with no crew provided.

As defined by Federal Aviation Regulations, if at least one crew member is provided it is considered a ‘Wet Lease’.

As you can see based on the defined facts, Aviation leases are more catered towards larger expensive aircraft. Jets and turboprops may have greater cost benefits when leased versus financed.

FAA Dry Lease Guidelines

Check out the Aviation Dry lease guidelines here

Partnerships are also a factor in choosing a financing or lease parameter. Many pilots decide to co-operate their aircraft with a friend or business partner. If you decide to go 50/50 on aircraft ownership this may increase the category and class of the aircraft you select.

AOPA offers an amazing aircraft loan calculator that should give you an idea of where you stand.

Check it out here https://finance.aopa.org/loan-calculator

The Bottom Line

There are many options to financing your new aircraft, and often times can be surprisingly affordable. Explore all the lending options available to ensure you have a variety of price points to choose from.

Often you will be able to achieve a 20-year amortization with a rate of around 3-4%. Monthly payments vary on the cost of the aircraft but can be the best option to owning your own aircraft.

Owning an aircraft is an amazing experience. Are you still looking for the right aircraft? Wondering which one to buy? Well check out our blog article: Buying Your First Aircraft – Questions to Ask Yourself

Frequently Asked Questions

How many years can you finance an aircraft?

20 Years. On average aircraft, finance terms are 20 years. Depending on other factors such as use case, financers can opt for shorter amortization rates.

What Credit score do I need to buy a plane?

It is advised to have a 700 score or greater before purchasing an aircraft. On average you will need a down payment of around 15-20%. This guarantees that you are able to find the best rates and amortization for the aircraft of your choice.

How much is an Aircraft Down Payment?

Aircraft down payments on average is 15-20% of the overall cost. Generally, a lender may also require you to have up to 18 months of liquid payment to guarantee the transaction.

Is it cheaper to rent or buy an airplane?

Buying an airplane can be one of the most cost-effective options for flying. Being able to bypass the costs and surcharges of renting an aircraft can prove to be significantly cheaper.

Is owning an airplane worth it?

Yes, being able to travel on your own terms is a luxury experience. No more waiting lines in terminals or checked bags, the aircraft waits for your arrival. You are not alone as owning can be one of the most amazing experiences one can have.

How much does it cost to be a pilot?

On average it costs $8000-$10000 to become a Private Pilot. This cost can vary based on location, aircraft type, and aptitude.

Can I get pre-approved with Aircraft Loans?

Yes, just like cars, you can get preapproved for an aircraft loan. We often recommend getting pre-approved to assure your seller that you are a serious buyer.

Can I pay off my Aircraft Loan Early?

Depending on your lending agreement, often, you can pay off your aircraft loan early without incurring any fees.

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