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How much does a microlight cost to run?

Updated: May 11


The typical costs of owning your own fixed-wing microlight

Flying is an expensive hobby and many pilots have turned to fixed-wing microlights to keep the costs down. There are also those who have not yet started their flight training, but are looking to understand the on-going costs before starting.


In this article, we look at the typical costs of owning and running a fixed-wing microlight and discuss the entry costs for various types on the second-hand market.

1. What are you buying?

The fixed-wing microlight market ranges from used, entry level aircraft at £5,000 all the way up to brand new hot ships at £120,000. Before we cover the running costs, it is important to have a budget for purchasing in mind and make sure that you will be happy with the type of aircraft you can afford.


£5,000-£10,000

At the bottom of the price range, we find entry level microlights with two stroke engines.


A typical example may be the Rans S6 Coyote. It is a two seat, high wing aeroplane which is both common and popular. The S-6 features a welded steel tube cockpit, with a bolted aluminum tube rear fuselage, wing and tail surfaces all covered in fabric. Examples are likely to have a two stroke Rotax 582 or 503 engine in this price range.

Rans S6-ES (photo by Alan Wilson - Flickr)
Rans S6-ES

Other examples in this price range include the X-air, Thruster T600N and several single-seat deregulated types.


Aircraft in this price range may be limited in cruise speed, range and payload.






£15,000-£30,000

This budget range will provide an aircraft with a four stroke engine such as the Jabiru 2200 at the lower end, and a Rotax 912 from the middle upwards. A four stroke engine is a must have for many buyers, so these aircraft tend to sell quickly.


An example of an aircraft at the lower end of this budget may be the UL430 (also made by Jabiru) which is an all-composite, two seat airplane with a typical cruising speed of around 85kts. The aircraft handles well in turbulence and is a “go-places” airplane. Being all composite, the airframe requires less maintenance than others and it looks better too. The UL450 is a slightly larger version of the same aircraft and is also found within this price range.


Other aircraft in this price range include used SkyRangers and Rans S6 with four stroke engines and the all-metal Savannah.

Jabiru UL450 fixed-wing microlight (G-JABZ)
Jabiru UL450 fixed-wing microlight (G-JABZ)

£30,000-£50,000

In this category you will find used aircraft such as the Evektor EV-97 Eurostar, A22 Foxbat, Ikarus C42. Their place in the price range is typically determined by the hours clocked up on the engine and airframe.


You will also occasionally find low-hours SkyRangers in this category. Almost all of these aircraft will be equipped with the ubiquitous Rotax 912 series of engines.


This price range also brings about the cheaper brand new aircraft such as the factory-built SkyRanger Swift which is very popular.

SkyRanger
SkyRanger

£50,000+

Aircraft such as the Ikarus C42B and Evektor EV-97 which have low hours will appear at the lower end of this category. Above this, you will find the Dynamic WT-9 and Flight Design CT which typically sell for £60,000+. These aircraft are in high demand due to their high performance, though they rarely come up for sale.

Ikarus C42B (G-CHRM)
Ikarus C42B (G-CHRM)

As the price of new aircraft has increased exponentially in recent years, so has the value of used aircraft. In fact, many aircraft that are ten years old are selling for the same price that the owner paid to purchase them new! It is worth pointing out that these price increases are not exclusive to the microlight market.




Brand new aircraft start from £50,000+ for a factory built SkyRanger Ninja, £70,000+ for an Ikarus C42B and over £100,000 for a high performance aircraft such as the Sirius TL-3000, Pipistrel Alpha or Flight Design CTSS.

2. Insurance

The price of your insurance is dependent on a number of factors including the hull value of the aircraft, the pilot's experience, previous claims and the level of cover required. A pilot flying 50-100 hours per year in a £35,000 aircraft may expect to pay £1,000-£1,500 in their first year. Insurance prices have been rising in the last few years and the prices are sometimes unpredictable. It is a good idea to get an online quote before committing to purchase an aircraft. This can be done with companies such as Visicover.


"As the price of new aircraft has increased exponentially in recent years, so has the value of used aircraft."

3. Hangarage

Though it is cheaper to park an aircraft outside overnight, it is advisable to keep the aircraft in a hangar, especially if it is a fabric covered airframe. Communal hangar space may cost £130-£150 per month depending on the facilities and individual hangars can be over £200 per month. Some pilots prefer to own their hangar and only pay ground rent, though this is not possible at all aerodromes.


4. Maintenance

Maintenance costs vary significantly depending on a number of factors such as:

  • Servicing interval frequency - some aircraft may only need an engine service every 100 hours though others may require servicing every 25 hours.

  • Number of hours flown per year - the more hours you fly, the more servicing intervals you will pass and the more often you will have to replace perishable parts (such as brake pads).

  • General reliability - some aircraft just need more repairs than others!

If you can do the work, you can save a lot of money.
If you can do the work, you can save a lot of money.
  • Your ability with the tools - if you are confident and capable of servicing or repairing your aircraft, then you can save a lot of money on engineer’s costs.

Heavy maintenance often requires an engineer
Heavy maintenance often requires an engineer

There are many courses available to teach owners how to perform servicing on their aircraft, such as the Rotax RMT course. However, not all maintenance can be performed by the owner. Some items may need to be completed by a maintenance technician, or signed off by a BMAA or LAA inspector. A typical price for a 100 hour service on a Rotax 912 engine could be in the region of £250 if an engineer is used, or £50 if you are able to do it yourself.


A well looked after, low hour aircraft may cost less than £600 per year to maintain.



5. Permit Revalidation

The permit to fly must be revalidated every year. An inspector will typically charge £100-£200 for this. However, if the aircraft fails the inspection for whatever reason you may incur costs to put it right - see point 4.


6. Fuel

Most microlights use between 10-18 litres per hour so fuel costs will be £20-£25 per hour.


7. Miscellaneous costs

Smaller items such as the aircraft’s radio licence or BMAA or LAA membership fees should not cost more than £200 per year.


8. Total cost

Based on the above estimates we have calculated an annual total below. Remember - this is a ball-park figure. You should consider your own personal circumstances and the specific aircraft you have in mind before purchasing.


Insurance £1,500

Hangarage £1,800

Maintenance £600

Permit £200

Fuel (50 hours) £1,250

Misc costs: £200


Total annual cost: £5,550


Keeping the cost down.

Aircraft syndicates are a great way of reducing costs. If four pilots share a plane, they can often afford an aircraft that they couldn’t otherwise and only pay a quarter of the on-going costs. However, make sure you have a written fair-usage and costs agreement beforehand.


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