Aircraft Rental – What You Need To Know

There are several reasons why you might want to consider aircraft rental. Maybe you have just got your pilot’s license after finishing your training. Perhaps you are a business that is interested in private jet rental for a special event? Maybe you are interested in helicopter rental?

So why would you want to rent a plane rather than purchase one? Well purchasing an aircraft is a very expensive business. Not only is there the initial purchase price of the plane to take into account, but you have to consider:

  • Repair costs
  • Storage costs
  • Maintenance costs
  • Fuel costs

In this post we will explain what you need to consider when it comes to airplane rental. We want to make sure that you go into this with your eyes open. There will be some things that you will not have considered for sure.

Is Aircraft Rental a reality?

Airplane rental is very much a reality and it has grown in popularity over the last few years. It’s a really good option for pilots who want to fly or businesses that want to rent a plane now and again. Most pilots will not have the financial clout to buy an aircraft and for some businesses, even though the benefits are numerous, the cost cannot be justified.

Aircraft rental has a number of advantages such as:

  • Storage provided
  • Many aircraft to chose from
  • No maintenance costs
  • Sometimes fuel is included in the rental deal

So if you are interested in jet rental or helicopter rental then you will need to do your homework because deals are going to vary a lot. There may be some aircraft rental facilities near to you or you may have to look further afield. The money that you can save by shopping around can be really significant.

What is the Cost of Airplane Rental?

Aircraft rental is not going to be cheap – but it is significantly cheaper than purchasing an aircraft. When you are looking to purchase an aircraft you are going to spend at least $50,000 depending on the age of the aircraft, the condition, the model, the amount of flight time, the engine and so on.

Then of course there are the ongoing costs such as storage space, repairs and maintenance, gas, insurance and more. If you intend to fly regularly and have the finances to purchase and look after your own aircraft then it can work out better for you in the long term. But it will take quite some time to realize a good return on your investment.

Let’s assume that you want to fly around 50 hours per year and you wanted to fly a good condition, second hand plane such as a Cessna 172. You can find some very good examples of used Cessna 172’s here.

To purchase a good used Cessna 172 let’s assume that you will need to make a monthly loan repayment of $1,300 each month. But the costs do not stop there. These are the estimated costs that you will need to take into account each year:

Repayments over 12 months - $15,600
Fuel for the year - $1,200
Insurance for the year - $3,600
Hangar storage - $2,400
Yearly maintenance - $500
Annual check - $1,500
Total: $24,800

Now compare this to renting a Cessna 172. You could certainly do this for around $5,000 per year. This means that you would save $19,800 a year by choosing the rental option. Of course if you do buy your own plane then you will have an asset at the end but aircraft do depreciate over time.

You will probably find that most companies that rent aircraft charge by the hour. Obviously the cost of private plane rental or the helicopter rental price is going to vary from one company to another and will also depend on the type of aircraft that you want to rent.

We have seen hourly rental costs as low as $150 per hour and of course they can get a lot higher than this. Renting the latest high performance business jet is obviously going to cost a lot more than hiring a basic aircraft. In fact, if you are thinking about renting top of the range aircraft on a regular basis then you might be better off buying an aircraft because the costs will be high.

With some aircraft rental companies you will have the option to purchase a set amount of time each month. If you have calculated the amount of time that you will be flying in a month pretty accurately then this can be a good choice for you.

Aircraft Rental - What You Need To Know

Wet Rentals and Dry Rentals

You need to know the difference between a wet rental and a dry rental. With a wet rental deal you will find fuel and oil costs included or they may reimburse the cost of this when it’s time to pay the final bill. This is really a convenience benefit as you will certainly be paying for the fuel and oil within the rental cost.

Dry rentals do not include the cost of fuel and oil and as the renter you will need to cover the cost of these yourself. When you choose a wet rental you can normally request the amount of fuel that you will need for your trip. The main reason for going for a dry rental is that you know that you can purchase the fuel and oil cheaper elsewhere.

If you are an experienced pilot or have a lot of knowledge about the aviation industry then the dry rental option is probably best for you. New pilots may want to choose the wet rental option but by doing this they will miss out on gaining valuable knowledge when it comes to fuel acquisition and management.

Do your homework again here. Find out what the policies of the various aircraft rental companies are when it comes to wet and dry rentals. Aviation fuel is expensive and you could save yourself a good chunk of money by choosing the right option here.

Other Benefits of Aircraft Rental

There are other benefits from aircraft rental apart from the cost per year. Here are some of the main ones:

Instructor provided

If you are a new pilot and this is the first time that you have rented a plane then most aircraft rental companies will provide you with an instructor. This is helpful as the instructor will explain all of the controls that the aircraft has and can provide you with some good flying tips. You will not get an instructor if you buy an aircraft.

Choose the right aircraft for the occasion

For each of your planned trips you may have different requirements for the aircraft. If you want to fly the plane on your own to build up your air miles then you can choose a smaller aircraft. For an event that requires the carrying of passengers you will need a larger plane that can accommodate up to four people.

Fly different aircraft

Some rental companies have a wide range of aircraft that you can rent. If they do not have what you are looking for then you can find a company that does. It will be good experience for you to fly different types of aircraft.

Do you have a plane in mind that you will want to purchase eventually? Renting it before hand to see if you like it is a very good idea. A lot of people do this with cars so why not with aircraft?

You will find that most aircraft rental companies will provide personal training for you with each different plane that you rent. This helps them prevent issues of liability and it is also a good thing for you as you will learn about all of the different planes. A lot of people choose different planes to rent to compare them before making a purchase decision.

No storage concerns

It is the responsibility of the rental company to provide hangar storage for all of their aircraft so this is not something that you need to concern yourself with when you are renting. If you buy your own plane then you will need to find and pay for suitable hangar storage which can cost hundreds of dollars every month.

No maintenance or repair costs

All aircraft rental companies have to ensure that their aircraft are maintained to the standards of the state and to comply with any federal laws before they can rent any aircraft to you. They are responsible for finding and hiring the qualified mechanics to ensure that their aircraft comply fully with all of the regulations.

So you can just rent the aircraft and enjoy flying it and let the company worry about maintenance and repairs. If you were to purchase your own aircraft then the maintenance and repairs become your responsibility. It is not always easy to find qualified mechanics and there is also the cost to consider here as well.

Aircraft Rental – What You Need To Know


There are many benefits to aircraft rental. The only real downside is that you do not own the aircraft. What you do get is the ability to save a lot of money on purchasing and taking care of your own aircraft.

Other perks of airplane rental include the fact that you have a lot of choice when it comes to types of aircraft and makes and models. You can rent a different aircraft for specific purposes such as carrying passengers and solo flights.

Of course owning an aircraft has its advantages as well. If you plan to fly a lot then it may be a good investment to purchase your own plane rather than rent for a long period. You can see some high quality aircraft for sale at AeroController™ here.


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