What Are the Different Types of Aircraft Operating Costs?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2019
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There are many types of aircraft operating costs, from the expense of purchasing an aircraft to the cost of the fuel it takes to operate it, and these costs should be considered when contemplating the purchase of an airplane for personal or company use. Pilot wages, insurance and hangar rental are other aircraft operating costs that are incurred when an airplane has been purchased. Some aircraft operating costs, such as maintenance costs, aircraft depreciation and required ground supplies, must also be calculated into the cost of operating an aircraft. Other factors are the rental or lease price of a plane not purchased outright, the expense of training a flight crew if the crew is not supplied with the aircraft and providing security to protect the investment.

One of the greatest of all aircraft operating costs is the cost of an aircraft when purchased. Even when leased or rented, the required costs of operating a rental plane can be exorbitant to some people. Fuel prices can quickly equal the price of a small vehicle if the airplane is used frequently. Incidentals, such as tires, brakes and maintenance, also contribute to the total aircraft operating costs, as do cleaning of both the interior and exterior of the aircraft. Some aircraft also require more frequent inspection and checks than other types of aircraft, such as helicopters, and propeller and jet airplanes.


Most aircraft require a minimum of two people in the cockpit as well as one or more flight attendants to service the passenger area. These flight crew salaries are all part of the total aircraft operating costs, as are the uniforms, tailoring and laundry expenses for the entire crew. There are also several fees associated with owning an aircraft that must be paid, including airport and runway fees, radio license and aircraft registration numbering. Hangar rental or purchase should also be figured into the cost of owning or operating an aircraft.

Seasonal costs associated with the operational costs of an aircraft are de-icing agent, heating the hangar and snow removal from the hangar to the taxi-way of the airport. Security costs and insurance premiums to cover the aircraft, passengers and crew as well as any potential ground damages in the event of a crash are all aircraft operating costs that must be paid whether the aircraft is used frequently or not. If the aircraft is purchased in place of being rented or leased, depreciation also must be factored into the worth of the aircraft every year.


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