How to Make Money With Your Aircraft – Lease Back, Fractional Shares, More!

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How to make money with Your Aircraft

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How to Make Money With your Aircraft

We all know flying isn’t cheap, trying to reduce those costs are often the number one priority of new owners. Do you have an aircraft that sits idle on the tarmac? Are you flying less than 100 hours per year? Well, unfortunately, more than likely you are losing money on your aircraft investment.

An aircraft sitting idle is a useless aircraft – this is why we have taken the time to share some way to make money with your aircraft.

An aircraft is an asset, just like a car, there are many unique ways to gain a return on investment. Just like other assets, an aircraft is one that has demand, and it’s up to you to figure out how to capitalize on this demand.

In this article we will go over:

  • In this article we will go over:

    • Discuss 14 CFR § 61.113 and what it means
    • Explain the positives and negatives of Lease back arrangements
    • Dive deeper into fractional share opportunities.
    • Discuss commercial-related opportunities to make money from your aircraft.

Can you make money as a private pilot?

Short answer is NO.

Long answer is:

Yes, you can make money as an individual owning an aircraft, however, the FAA rulebook strictly prohibits making money using/exercising the privileges of your private pilot’s license.

Read more about 14 CFR § 61.113 here at the legal info website.

All the methods we use today will be exclusively disclaimed if you need a commercial license or greater to pursue.

Lease Back

The most common way to make money from your aircraft is lease-back opportunities. This is the main method we will discuss in this article because it is a simple model of sharing your aircraft for compensation.

Aircraft Leaseback opportunities are usually extended to flight schools. If you have an aircraft sitting idly and it is a very common training platform (Cessna 172, Piper Archer, and others) leasing back to a flight school may be one of your best options. Essentially, you would be granting a flight school the exclusive right to operate, maintain, and train in your aircraft for a monthly based compensation.

The Positives

Lease-back opportunities are a great way to make money from your aircraft while you are not using it. If negotiated correctly, flight schools can agree to pay for all maintenance of the aircraft. This means you get to fly an aircraft and pay nearly $0 in extra expenses when it comes to maintenance. For pilots with more expensive aircraft, this may be a godsend as lease-back opportunities can reduce costs of ownership tremendously.

In addition, your aircraft is now technically a business, and with that, there are certain tax benefits. A lot of general items that are needed to fill your leaseback arrangement can be written off. Understanding the cost of aviation, we already know that with these incredible prices any write-offs can help in the long run.

  • Maintenance Cost Reduction
  • Aircraft Is used frequently
  • The revenue model allows for-profit
  • Your aircraft becomes an asset
  • Tax Write-off opportunities.

The Negatives

Now this section is probably where you will reconsider against lease-back opportunities. Even with the incredible benefits of leasing back your aircraft, there are a few negatives to consider. First and most importantly, there will be undoubtedly more wear and tear on your aircraft. Depending on who you lease back to, flight school, or a flight club, multiple people will be at the controls of your aircraft. This will make your aircraft more susceptible to damage and misuse over the course of its lifetime.

Even though the maintenance costs may be paid for in your leaseback arrangement, you should honestly ask yourself if you are okay with other people handling your aircraft, Potentially in a reckless manner.

In addition, you will have less time with your aircraft. Leasing back means losing a portion of time with your aircraft and sharing it with others. In order to follow your arrangement, you may have to guarantee a certain block of time or hours for your leasee to use your aircraft. This will more than likely coincide with the time you had reserved with your aircraft. Understanding that you will not have full access to your aircraft should be top of mind when considering leaseback arrangements. At the end of the day, the reason we purchase aircraft is so that we can have the freedom to fly when we want, but turning around and losing that privilege is the same thing as renting an aircraft.

Last but not least, Insurance! Oftentimes people forget that an aircraft will more than likely need additional insurance policies in order to be eligible for leaseback arrangements. You will have multiple people using your aircraft at all times. This is a consideration when sharing or leasing as your insurance company will see this as a huge liability. Other policies such as passenger and public liability insurance may be required depending on your aircraft ownership status. Depending on your leaseback arrangement, this may end up being an out-of-pocket cost.

  • Less time with your aircraft
  • Wear and tear on your aircraft will be accelerated
  • Maintenance costs may fall on you
  • Insurance policies may increase

Is a leaseback arrangement for you? Well, if you are comfortable with understanding the positives and the negatives listed above, maybe this will be the perfect avenue to run with. Make sure to do your due diligence before arranging a leaseback with a flight club or school.

Freelance Training (Certified Flight Instructor)

Now, this option requires having your CFI license or Certified Flight Instructor certificate along with your commercial license. Even though, this can still be a lucrative way to make money with your aircraft. Being a flight instructor is already a contractual-based industry, as most flight schools contract flight instructors as individual agents for their FBO. You can be the same since you have your own aircraft, you operate as a private FBO, and can gain your own clients.

Pilots in this space of freelance CFI work can often target high-quality clients that attract huge business opportunities. Being able to choose your own clientele can often lead you to set your own prices and create a higher return.

In addition, you don’t have to give anyone a cut of your profit! The way that flight schools make money is by taking a cut of the instructor costs, but removing the middle man allows for you to take the whole pie. This way you can become your own business operation and subsidize the costs of ownership.

  • Become your own business
  • Bypass the FBO cuts
  • Build your own clientele
  • Set your own prices

Tourism / Sight Seeing Pilot

Tourism from the skies is on the rise, especially in the warmer seasons. If you live in a tourist location, becoming a sightseeing / Tourism pilot should be on your list.

Depending on your location you can rake in a lot of money for short 15–30-minute flights around a hot spot area. Locations that do really well with this option are California, New York, Arizona, Florida, and other tourist locations that offer amazing views.

Depending on demand, pilots can often earn upwards of $150 for a short flight around a populated area. Of course, just like some other options on this list, a massive downside is that you will be shorting yourself of the experience gained from long cross-country planning.

Sights, while beautiful may start to seem repetitive and can often become mundane when flying in the same area. You may become more complacent which is never a good thing.

However, seeing the joys on your passengers’ faces will never get old. This is something you may have to consider in the long term.

This is a really easy option to implement as it’s as simple as getting your business out there. Advertise to the general public that you are offering these services through general means of social media, websites, and advertising. As time goes on you can build upon your business and set your own prices, offering beautiful sights to tourists around your local area.

Aerial Photography

Now this option will also require your commercial license as you are technically using your flying abilities to make money. However, this is still a valid way to make money with your aircraft.

There are tons of people looking for aerial photography – from real-estate agents to pipeline operators. Sometimes people value being able to see the world from a different perspective. With the rise of drones this avenue has undoubtedly become less lucrative, but depending on where you live in this can still be a great opportunity.

I suppose the way you have to look at it is if there is a location where a drone cannot reach, a view, or perspective only a powered aircraft can utilize. Then it may be worthwhile offering your services.

Check out our article on 12 low Time Pilot Jobs, as many of these also intersects with the idea of making money with your aircraft.

Pilot Jobs

The Bottom Line

Most of these items on the list require your commercial license to pursue, so keep this in mind when aiming to make extra income from your aircraft. Unbeknownst to many, even with Leaseback arrangements, fractional shares, Aerial photography, and others we discussed, there are so many more ways to earn money indirectly with your license. 

Keep in mind that YouTubers, social media influencers, tiktokers, and more do this every day with their aircraft. Simply thinking of your aircraft as an asset can help in the long run in making sure you can reap a huge return.

If you are interested in purchasing an aircraft, take a look at a few of our listings below.

Or read our article on Questions to ask yourself when purchasing your first aircraft!

 

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Check out our blog post on 5 Easy and Cheap Ways to start flight school, in which we also discuss how contracting a personal flight instructor can prove to be significantly cheaper in your own aircraft.

Are you interested in purchasing an aircraft? Check out some of our listings below, as you can see the prices are on par in comparison to buying a new car.

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