Finally, after all those dreams about owning an airplane, you've decided to take the plunge.
Now comes another major decision, especially if this hefty financial commitment has you a bit on edge: co-ownership or sole ownership? Would an aircraft partnership save you money and/or allow you to fly a bigger and better airplane for less than you’re spending now?
A partnership, or shared aircraft ownership, is one of the oldest and sometimes most practical forms of owning an airplane. An aircraft partnership is a lot like a marriage; this arrangement can be a rewarding experience for the pilots whose flying needs fit into the joint-ownership framework. If you can’t or don’t want to own an entire airplane by yourself, this fast-growing segment of aviation can be the ticket to flying on your own terms.
Shared ownership is more common than most pilots realize and has been around for a very long time (we can assume that the world’s first airplane was owned jointly by Wilbur and Orville). It includes large and small airplanes; the very rich and average Joes; and formal, professional management on new airplanes or just good buddies sharing a used Cherokee. Most of the new aircraft manufacturers have a factory-sponsored program, but some partnerships are actually formed on the golf course, in the airport coffee shop, or at your office or place of employment.
The major benefit of successful aircraft joint-ownership programs is the cost savings to the partners. Hangar, insurance, maintenance and purchase price are shared instead of all coming out of one pilot’s pocket. The underlying benefits of shared ownership are really for those pilots that need an airplane for just a small amount of time - not enough to warrant full ownership costs, but enough to need more reliable access than rentals or charters can provide.