Even as sales of new airplanes stumble under the weight of a glut of pre-owned models, good news abounds.
Cirrus Aircraft, for one, continues to defy market trends by selling out production of its piston models year in and year out while focusing much of its attention this year on deliveries of its newest product, the SF50 Vision Jet, for which the company has taken more than 600 orders. Other manufacturers of piston models aren’t faring quite as well, but Cessna and Piper have been buoyed by fleet sales to flight-training organizations, which continue to account for a large portion of production of piston-powered airplanes nowadays.
While piston and turboprop twins face a difficult market, single-engine turboprops are hot right now. Buyers are snapping up Daher’s TBM models and the always-popular Pilatus PC-12 NG, awaiting the imminent certification of a new market entrant, the Epic E1000, and looking ahead to the Cessna Denali.
In the rarefied air of the upper flight levels, the business jet market has struggled of late as demand for all categories of jets fails to regain momentum thanks to a precipitous drop in values for late-model pre-owned jets. There are welcome signs of a stabilizing market, however, with buyers again snapping up light-jet models, and a broad recovery for mid-size and larger jets expected in the next 12 to 18 months.
The following pages contain pricing and specifications for every general aviation airplane, from piston singles to large-cabin bizjets, that you can go out and buy today, as well as information for a handful of aircraft that are due to hit the market later this year. Our companion online Buyers Guide will also include complete listings for every light-sport aircraft, bizliner and civil helicopter on the market. We hope you find this information of use as you make your future aircraft-purchasing decisions.
– Stephen Pope, Editor-in-Chief
Download your own copy of the 2018 Buyers Guide here.
How to Choose an Airplane
Buying an airplane can be one of the most exciting, and the most terrifying, experiences you will undertake in your flying pursuits. It’s important to choose an airplane that will serve your needs for the foreseeable future without breaking your pocketbook. If you get it right, expect to become emotionally attached to this prized possession. We’ve all heard pilots say it: “Oh, I wish I had never sold that airplane.”
Apart from scratching the flying itch, the right airplane can help you spend more time with your family, with the ability to travel efficiently to and from meetings or vacations in faraway places. How much is it worth to be able to return home in time to tuck your kids in every night?
So how do you choose the right airplane for you? Whether you’re looking for a small $100-hamburger airplane or a business jet, here are some tips on how to choose an airplane you will love.
Download our step-by-step approach to finding the airplane that makes you happy.
Aircraft Ownership Checklist
Few events in life compare to the thrill and excitement that come with earning a pilot certificate. A close second, though, just might be owning your own airplane.
For me, it seemed at first like aircraft ownership might merely be a natural progression to the commercial pilot certificate I was already working on. The taildragger I eventually bought, however, became more of a friend — a pal who shared my deep commitment to flying. The airplane, a Champion 7ECA Citabria (that’s “airbatic” spelled backward, by the way ) sported a big “For Sale” sign when I first saw it. I thought, Why not? I had a job. And I owned my own car. I quickly pictured myself taxiing around the airport, giving a thumbs-up to people I passed. Then there was the fun I knew was waiting at places distant and times future.
Of course, I knew nearly nothing about owning an airplane, short of writing a check and adding gas and oil before launching into the sky. The owner was asking $2,500. I thought for a few seconds and simply said, “OK.” No one else looked at the airplane before I handed over the money. Why would I be concerned? The owner was an A&P mechanic. He’d never sell the airplane if it had a problem, right? I saw the real problem being I had no idea how to fly a taildragger. There was much to learn.
I knew I needed insurance and a place to keep it, not to mention I would be dealing with the maintenance issues surrounding a fabric-covered airplane, of which I also knew nothing. There was no Google to ask in those days either. Over the years, most of my lessons were good, luckily. Of course, that also speaks some to the people with whom I dealt, most of whom were plumb honest. Life’s a bit more complicated these days.
What I lacked in ownership knowledge, I nearly made up for with good luck that stayed with me until I sold the airplane a few years later for a thousand more than I’d paid, having logged nearly 500 fun hours along the way. Today, any person buying an airplane like this isn’t lucky. They’re acting foolishly. There’s no reason to purchase an airplane with your fingers crossed. There are simply too many things that could go wrong, and such great resources available for the asking. The following pages contain a useful ownership checklist to keep you from making the same mistakes as many others before you.
Download our guide on how to successfully navigate the yin and yang of airplane ownership.