I recently finished a half-year evaluation of the OurPlane fractional ownership program, taking control of an eighth share in a brand-new Cessna Skylane. I was looking to see if fractional ownership programs, which are modeled loosely after those used for professionally flown business jets, like NetJets, could translate to owner-flown small airplanes.
The OurPlane program sells one-eighth shares in Cessna Skylanes, and Cirrus SR20s and SR22s (among other types), and bases the airplanes at full-service FBOs. Owners buy a share of the airplane and retain equity throughout the program (though OurPlane retains the title). Owners pay a buy-in fee (around $40,000 for a brand-new Skylane) and ante up for hours flown (around $110 for the Skylane) and for management of the airplane ($425 per month for the Silver-level share I had). At the end of the five-year term, the owners can either cash out their equity or roll it over into a new model. My Skylane was originally based at Danbury, Connecticut; after a month it moved to Oxford, Connecticut. It's kept in a heated hangar and rolled out by the FBO, so it's ready to go when the pilot arrives. Red carpet service.
The program and concept sounded great, but I came to it with far more questions than answers. The big four questions-OurPlane tells me that nearly every prospective owner asks the same things-are as follows:
1. Can you really divide a Skylane, or any other light airplane, eight ways? I mean, won't you have eight owners all wanting to the fly the thing to Nantucket on the same sunny summer Saturday?
2. Will the advantages of owning a fraction of a brand-new small airplane outweigh the increased costs? It is more expensive. Will it be worth it?
3. Is this concept viable? And if it isn't and the company folds, what happens to my slice of the Skylane?
4. And finally, what kinds of surprises, both good and bad, might be in store?