cost of flying


I am trying to ballpark the actual costs of flying a GA which you own: fuel, landing fees, wear and tear (ignoring all time costs or any fixed costs like insurance). Obviously this varies by jet vs propeller, distance traveled, weather conditions, etc but I am hoping there is a source most pilots look at when thinking about these costs. If the source only covered the most popular AC types that would be fine.

My main goal is to calculate the $ cost of a few hundred mile round trip to an adjacent state.

Ideally I would like to calculate this cost each year back to around 2004, but of course starting with the current year is the first step. Any help for this (obviously) non-pilot would be most appreciated!


PS I saw the thread … ost+flying which started addressing my question, but it ended up meandering into other territory.

You can create a spreadsheet to do this fairly easy. To get the true cost you will need to include insurance, hangar rental, etc.

The first part of the spreadsheet would include the fixed costs (insurance, hangar, etc.).
The second part would include the variable costs (fuel, oil, etc.).
The third part would be the estimated hours flown per year.
The final part would be the estimated cost per hour.

If you send me a PM with your email address I can give you a sample. Let me know which version of Excel you have. may also be useful to you.

One rule of thumb that I was told and works most of the time is it costs about $1-$2 per mile to fly. I lean toward the $2 per mile and 99% of the time have enough money. The other 1% of the time I’m pretty close. Remember to calculate the return flight, too. So, if you’re flying 500 nm away, plan to spend about $2k for the flight and hope to spend only $1k. It’s not perfect but will get you pretty close to having enough in the budget for the flight.

When I used to work for the feds, I got 1.08 per mile (I used NM) for my commutes in my private plane so the figure above isn’t too far off base.

Thanks everyone for the replies: very helpful. Looking at the federal reimbursement rate was a really good idea and I list those below if anyone else is interested. If anyone knows what factors go into this rate and could share it I would very much appreciate it.

I am still hoping to put together a calculation on my own based on fuel use, landing fees, and wear and tear: if anyone has some specific numbers they can post that would be great.


The federal reimbursement rates for privately owned planes (I think this is for regular rather than nautical mile given this page, but if this is wrong let me know): here are the rates back to 2004 that I found in the federal register.

Date Rate ($ per mile)

12/15/2003 $0.995
02/04/2005 $1.07
07/28/2008 $1.26
01/15/2009 $1.24
01/06/2010 $1.29

Federal Travel Regulation; Privately Owned Vehicle (POV) Mileage Reimbursement Rates: privately owned airplane

sources: via (subject=“Privately Owned Vehicle Mileage Reimbursement”)

Sorry to re-awaken this, but I was wondering if anyone had some insights on how the GSA calculates the Privately Owned Vehicle (POV) Mileage Reimbursement Rates I cited in my last post. I have not had much luck getting a direct response from them.

Basically I have two questions:

  • is this rate supposed to fully offset the marginal costs of flying a typical plane an additional mile?
  • what factors are included or excluded in calculating the rate (for example, are hangering or landing fees included).

Thanks again for everyone’s help.