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Guest bruno

General Commercial Pilot Questions

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Let's say that I had a commercial pilot's licence some extra dollars floating around and I wanted to start my own single aircraft airline. My goal was to serve a place like OHare or Atlanta Hartfield from a community about 100 or so miles from the airport. I know there is a market for such services, because I live in Athens GA which is about 85 miles from ATL. We have one airliner coming into Athens (USAIR) that gets you to ATL but in a round about fasion, meaning not directly.$1,500,000 will purchase you a 12 seater fully loaded Cessna Grand Caravan. With interest and payments spread out over 10 years, the cost will be about $15,000 a month.At two to three flights a day $40 each way, I could hypothetically make about $80,000 a month. Please notice I said hypothetically. This is more or less just a thought experiment.My questions are 1> About what does it cost to insure this aircraft?2> What are approximate fuel and airport costs to land and park this aircraft? 3> What does the typical maintenance bill for this aircraft run per year? 4> Will a commercial licence suffice? 5> Do I need two have two crew members per flight? 6> What else have I overlooked?Again, this is just a thought question, but if were are going to simulate flight. Why not simulate the entire experience?Thanks!Rob

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I'll answer as much as i can. Fuel/Landing Costs: Figure jet fuel will run you about $2.25/Gallon. That's a fairly reasonable estimate, although it changes from area to area, much like gasoline for your car varies. Landing fees at an airport like ATL or ORD are going to cost you an arm and a leg. You'd be better off serving one of the local airports, for example PDK in atlanta or MDW or CGX in chicago; they'll probably still charge you a landing fee since you're making money off the flight, but it's significantly less than you'll pay at a major commercial field.Maintanance Fees: Too many variables here. You have to have the aircraft inspected annually. That usually runs a grand or two in GA aircraft with piston engines. I would guess that's gonna run you a lot more in a bigger, turbine driven aircraft. You're also going to have to have it inspected every 100 hours, because you're operating the aircraft for profit. How much maintanance costs per hour really depends on who's maintaining the plane. If you employ your own mechanics you will pay less than if you contract the work to someone else. Like anything, expect maintanance bills to go up as the plane gets older.Licence Restrictions: I'm fuzzy on whether a commercial licence will suffice or not. I think the answer is that it might suffice, depending on how you operate the plane. (Meaning which section of the FARs you operate under.) Someone else will be able to explain better than I. You will, however, be able to fly with only one pilot. You have to remove or block out a number of seats though in order to be legal within the U.S. (The FAA limits single pilot ops to 9 passengers--correct me if that's the wrong number).Hope this helps!Rob

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Thanks Rob,When you say an arm and a leg to land at ATL or ORD, just off the top of your head, what kind of fee are we talking about, just for simulation purposes, unless you absolutely don't know? What does such a fee include?The advantage of flying into ORD or ATL is that passengers don't have to stand in long lines at these major airports to be checked in; they can go through short lines at smaller airports at be right at the gates of the larger airport, which would definitely be true for ATL.I will say, just for simulation purposes, that the annual fee will cost me $1,500 per year and say $150.00 per 100 hour inspection which will probably be every two weeks or so. Does that seem reasonable?I guess the engine will have to be rebuilt after so many hours as well. That certainly will cost an arm and a leg.I will budget 200.00 bucks a month for maintenance costs just for budgeting, not including the others (yearly and monthly) just mentioned.I have actually, just today, ordered an operations cost of the Cessna Caravan from Cessna at their website. They should be sending it to me. They have some great info on the Caravan there, along with pics of the 8 and 12 passenger options. With what you said, I guess I will have to opt of the 8 passenger model and up the price per ticket to 60 bucks one way. The damand would be here. I know it would.Anyway, thanks for the info and feel free to answer any of my other questions as well.RH

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Rob, looks like Rob covered most of it already but I'll offer more details on what regulations would require as far as crewmembers and certifications.Since you would be operating a scheduled flight service, this would make this operation fall under the Part 135 regulation, which would regulate both the aircraft and the crewmembers. In other words, there would be special certification requirements for both the aircraft and the crewmembers beyond just a commercial certification. It is all covered in this section of the FAR's:FARs Part 135]And here is an except from Part 135 on the requirement of a second in command pilot. In the case of the Caravan, if it has 10 passenger seats or more (not including the two up front for the pilots), you have to have a second pilot.

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Thanks Scott for the information. I have saved the link. I was going to hold my Cessna Carvan to the 8 seat configuration and use my FS2002 Commercial but read the following:

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>I also found the following for fuel there: >>Fuel prices as of 12-Dec-2001 >100LL Avgas $3.19 >Jet A $3.14 >>Prices include all taxes. Prices not guaranteed. >>I wonder which fuel the Cessna Caravan takes? I believe the other Rob mentioned in his thread that it would be Jet-A. Since the Caravan is a turboprop, it uses jet fuel.

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The captain would have to have an ATP not just a commercial certificate. Don't forget that under part 135 you need to set up training schedules, maintenance schedules, internal operating rules, etc... that all must be approved by the FAA. Not impossible, but definitly a lot of precise hoops to jump through.I seem to recall an article in one of the flying rags (AOPA Pilot, or Flying Magazine come to mind) about a pilot who decided to do this very same thing. He wanted to start a part 135 on demand flying service which is a little different from a scheduled service provider which is what you're talking about. I believe that he wanted to use a Saratoga for his ops. This required upgrades in equipment (dual alternators, autopilots, things of this nature). I also seem to recall that he was prohibited from single engine IFR at the time (that may have changed). Anyhow, you might want to look around for this article (it was within the last 5 years or so).Good luck, I hope that the pluses outweigh the minuses and you make a run at it.Tim13

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Interesting discussion. You've under-estimated your maint. costs by a lot. First, you'll want to dump the Annual/100hr routine and get your Caravan on the Cessna approved Progressive Maint Program. There's 4 different check's, one every 50 hours, so the whole cycle goes 200 hours. You must complete a whole cycle within the calender year.The cheapest shop rates you're likely to find will be around $45/hour. Each check will run around 8 to 10 man hours (do the math) and you should figure another 10% for consumables. Fixing discrepency's and parts for the same are extra and impossible to estimate in advance.For your engine, you'll need to regular Power Recovery Wash's every two or three days. Labor cost's: about 2-3 man hours each time. Heavy engine maint: You'll need to do a "Hot Section" inspection about every 1500 hours. And around every 3000 to 3500 you'll need to do a complete overhaul (tear down and inspect). Then there's the prop...Most small operators put money away every month in a special account to help fund these eventual heavy cost items.Because you'll want to keep your payroll (employee's) to a minimum, I suggest you not hire your own mechanics, but instead negotiate a maint contract with a local shop. Payroll cost's will kill you in short order!Hope that helps. :-)Dee Waldron (Retired A&P, IA)Historic Jetliners Group

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Hi Rob,I looked into such a proposition myself and the cost of the plane was the least of worries. Although it has been a few years, you must take into account that you will need training, a company policy/handbook, dispatchers, insurance (not cheap), ground crew (luggage/potables), ticketing, gate access and the list goes on and on... Of course this is not to discourage you in anyway! But you need really look at the backend of this-- what if the plane is down for maintenance? How will your passengers be compensated-- etc,etc.Good Luck!

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I suggest you visit www.pprune.orgI is a large forum where real world airliner pilots go (i mean loads of them),and have about 70 forums.Also airline executives and engineers,cabin crew..everyone is there.I strongly recommend you visit there,sign up and begin posting in the Questions or Flight Ops forum.you will find alot of help there.Good luck in your venture.Stephen.

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for example landing fee at KLGA is $150

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How do you become a millionare in aviation/airline world?Be a multi-millionare before you start.Timothy

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Rob, The FAA has a distinction between a "scheduled airline service" and a "commuter/air taxi service". The regs are EXTREMELY different and are much more restrictive on the airline. I have personally known several one-man commuter/taxi operations operating single engine aircraft. Check out the FAR's and, if possible, find and talk to an air taxi service at a local airport.Glenn

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Interesting discussion guys. with the downtime for maintenance, would you be able to operate a schedule with one aircraft ? Or could the maintenance be done at night, like in some large car maintenance shops

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