Source for Operating Costs of Aircraft


I am looking for a reliable source for determining the operating costs of several different types of aircraft. Particularly:

Cessna 172 & 182
Beech A36
Beech Baron
Cirrus SR22
Piper Malibu
Pilatus PC-12
Piper Meridian
Beech Premier
Cessna Citation 500
Gulfstream GII
Gulfstream GIV


You get the idea…Any help for either fixed and/or variable costs would be appreciated!


Please allow me to completely ruin your day.

There is no single reliable source for all of those aircraft. For anything which is almost exclusively a business or commercial plane, which has been in the fleet for over 5 or 6 years, you can generally go with Conklin and Decker.

However, anything newer, or smaller, they are generally wrong. With all respect to these gentlemen, they should try harder or drop those planes from their books. Their normal methods just aren’t working here.

In fact, for piston singles, you can hardly beat the old 2 and 3 times fuel method. The 3 times is supposed to estimate total cost (non-capital), and isn’t bad.

I like the 2 times method which is just the operational cost. You then add 2.5% for each year since manufacture. After that, you add hangar, insurance, and capital. I like this better because it it estimates less, and seems to be spot on. The trick is that the higher the fuel flow, generally, the better equipped. More bits, means more maintenance. You can always fudge it a bit based on what is known (not rumored) about a given model.

For instance. A 2000 172SP burns 10 gph (use 75% Rich POH numbers, not the marketing BS). Fuel is about $4 a gallon, so that means 4X10X2 gets you $80 plus 15% is $92. Now, there are all sorts of schools and people doing it for less who will be happy to disagree. Individuals are kidding themselves if they think its cheaper. They just haven’t yet rebuilt a lot of the panel, the engine, or otherwise had that nightmare annual that blows the average from what they think they are getting. Schools operate differently from the rest of us for lots of reasons.

Now, if you look at an older Skylane, fudge this down because it’s not that complex, and is really fuel inefficient, which skews its numbers up. On the other hand, a retractable Cessna single will be on the highside because of their gear ( you get the picture ).

Now, the 2 times method becomes the 3 to 4 times method if you are looking at a twin. 3 for little ones, 4 for cabin class. Have fun.

PS there are lots of other methods which are logically equivalent to the following: “how much you got?” - “All of your money” etc.


For a start, go to your local library and get a copy of business and Commercial Aviation’s “2006 OPERATIONS PLANNING GUIDE”.

But many consider this to be the Bible!

Of course, then you need this to make sense of it all.

#4 is mostly complete, but often unrealistic.



Are the numbers in there good for high performance singles? Could you throw us some examples? I got the impression that they were like C&D in that the numbers for the lighter aircraft were questionable because they depend on fleet operators for data.