5 Most Affordable Private Planes In The World
Recently I’ve been daydreaming of flying, and just browsing the web searching for the cheapest way possible to get in the air. Here are the fruits of my labor.
5. Vans RV-3
Kit aircraft manufacturer Vans has a reputation for being the most popular manufacturer of safe and reliable kit airplanes in the market today. They offer a vast array of models to fit nearly any mission. The most affordable of their entire lineup is the Vans RV-3. The RV-3 is a single place (one seat) aircraft capable of aerobatic flight. The RV-3 can achieve a top speed of 195-207 mph, depending on your engine choice. Cruising at 55% throttle at 8,000 feet, the RV-3 is capable of a 715-770 mile range on a single tank of fuel. The RV-3 kit can be purchased for $21,750.
It is worth noting that this is the price for the airframe and does not include shipping. The avionics, engine, and prop will have to be purchase separately. The recommended powerplant for the Vans RV-3 is the Lycoming O-360, which you can buy from Vans for around $23,500, bringing your total to around $45,250, excluding avionics and a propeller. According to vansaircraft.com, the rough approximation of time required to build the RV-3 and similar models is around 2,000-2,200 hours.
The fourth most affordable aircraft is the Zenith STOL CH701. The starting price for a complete kit (again, just the airframe) is $14,000. The STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) CH701 can take off in as little as 100 feet! This makes it ideal for exploring remote destinations with less-than-ideal landing conditions. The Zenith CH701 is designed to fly using the Rotax series of powerplants. The entry level Rotax 912 engine can be found for around $16,503 bringing the cost of the engine and airfame to about $30,503. This still excludes the cost of a propeller and avionics.
The CH701 has a useful load of 520 pounds, which is excellent considering the empty weight of the aircraft is 580 pounds. The cabin is 40 inches wide and accommodates two seats! This makes the CH701 a great option for two travelers to remote parts of the world. Running a Rotax 912 powerplant, the CH701 has a range of 372 miles before needing to refuel.
3. Sonex Onex
This aerobatic aircraft checks all the boxes for an affordable single seat plane. Unlike most kits, you can purchase literally everything required to fly for $29,795. This includes the wings, fuselage, tail, engine, propeller, avionics, upholstery, everything. This is a great example of making fly affordable and available to nearly everyone.
The wings of the Sonex Onex are foldable, allowing pilots to store their aircraft in their home garage or shed. This can end up saving owners thousands of dollars in hangar and tie-down fees! This also makes for easy and convenient transportation. The Onex can easily fit onto a trailer and be towed to the local airport for a day of flying.
The Onex base powerplant is the 80 hp 2180 Aerovee. With this engine, the Onex is capable of climbing at a rate of 700-900 feet per minute. It has a 8,000 feet cruse speed of 155 mph with a range averaging 535 miles. The Onex is available in two configurations so it can be built as a tricycle gear or a taildragger.
The Tornado is almost getting into the ultralight category, but is officially defined as an LSA (light sport aircraft) by the FAA. The overall cost of the Tornado I airframe kit, if purchased all together, is $11,649. This price does not include the cost of engine, propeller, and avionics, due to customer preferences. However, when you factor in these costs, you can estimate a total of something like $6,000 for the engine, $1,500 for the propeller, and $2,000 for avionics. This puts the total cost of your build at an estimated $21,149.
The Tornado has the shortest build time yet with average estimates in the 150-300 hour range. When equipped with a Rotax 503 engine, the Tornado is capable of cruising in excess of 95 mph. With a fuel capacity of 10 gallons, the Tornado can fly for around 250 miles before needing to refuel. The Tornado is extremely light, weighing in at just 375 pounds without fuel. This likely contributes to its surprising climb rate of 1,500 feet per minute with only 46 horsepower! It only needs a good 200 feet to take off and land.
Yes, the name may be kind of funny, but this plane easily takes the crown of the most affordable private plane in the world. Kit plane builders usually fall into 3 categories. Quick-build Kits: builders receive parts of the plane with major assembly already done for them, saving hundreds of hours in labor. Standard Kits: builders receive plane parts that are less assembled upon delivery. This is usually a few thousand dollars cheaper than a quick-build kit, but also takes hundreds of hours more to assemble. And finally, plans. Some builders prefer to just purchase the blueprints of a plane they like, and find the materials themselves and build it from scratch.
To put this in perspective, the blueprint plans for the Sonex Onex retail for $750. The Affordaplane is only available as plans. There is no kit for the Affordaplane, as scratch building is the only option. The plans for the Affordaplane are just that: affordable. At a mere $20, the plans for this aircraft cost as much as something at your local bookshop! The entire blueprint is availabe as a PDF, so you can download it instantly. The whole thing is 279 pages, which covers every single aspect of the Affordaplane aircraft.
There are a few different options available for building the Affordaplane, and depending on which options you choose, you can build the Affordaplane in around 250 hours for $4,000-$8,000.
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the photos used in this article. I have placed links in each of the photos showing where I found them.