Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hourly Cost of Flying a PPG

So this question came up again on one of the PPG lists - what does it cost per hour to fly a PPG? It’s really a subjective question but lets take a look.

When it first came up a few years ago I cranked a spreadsheet and plugged in all the data I had, made lots of assumptions and came up with around 40 bucks an hour. After dusting off the old spreadsheet and updating it based on another 5 years experience, I tweaked the model a bit and based it on a six year time frame.

First, lets talk about the assumptions that go into this model. The first assumption is around training. My original model factored in training costs. Since this is a one-time event, I have excluded it from this model. (Although I highly recommend the pursuit of on-going training and advanced clinics.)

The second assumption is around hours of flying. The average PPG pilot flies somewhere between 40-100 hours per year. I realize there are some air hogs about, but in just about every poll conducted by the USPPA that I have seen, the averge Joe Pilot is somewhere just south of 100 hours per year.

The other assumption is around equipment maintenance and useful equipment life. I have factored in regular glider inspections and reserve repacks, and one glider replacement over a 5-6 year period. Most gliders have a 300-400 hour useful life and most pilots get the itch for a new glider every other year or so. Given the 100 hours a year assumption, the useful life of a glider and knowing how much we all love new equipment, I think 1 new glider every 300 hours or 3 years is fair. Most PPG motors have a recommended TBO of 300 hours along with regular maintenance of certain parts. I have assumed that the motor would need an overhaul at 300 hours and would be replaced or upgraded after 6 years for the purpose of this model.

The Model:

Here's the Microsoft Excel version if you want to tweek it.

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