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Cost of Auto-Gyro Ownership

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  • Cost of Auto-Gyro Ownership

    Hello all,
    First post so please forgive me if I am doing it all wrong as I am not keen on forums yet. Clearly I am VERY new to aviation and Auto Gyros as a whole. Recently have become fascinated with Auto Gyros and looking to hopefully own and operate one in the near future. As they are exciting and the impulse reflex in me just wants to jump in head first I know I must take a logical approach to the situation. I have been looking around to find a general guide to the cost of ownership for an Auto-Gyro with little luck. Would any gyro owners be willing to share their experiences with cost of ownership? I am certain there are many facets I have not even considered. I am also wondering what the "average" weekend warrior is able to log a year in flight hours.
    Much Thanks in advance,

  • #2
    Welcome to the Rotary Wing Forum Chris.

    I flew a Cavalon for a year tracking out of pocket expenses for service, fuel and parts and it worked out to be less than thirty dollars an hour for around four hundred hours of flight time. This includes the hundred hour services and any parts required. A $90 an hour shop did the 100 hours services.

    I ran almost exclusively aviation fuel (more expensive 100LL) because automotive gasoline is not available at most airports in California and alcohol free automotive fuel is very rare in California. I changed the oil every 25 hours and did not account for my time.

    This figure does not include hangar rent ($2,544 per year or $6.36 per hour), insurance (around $1,800 per year or$4.50 per hour), deprecation, meals and lodging on overnight trips. The figure does not include an engine, prop, rotor or airframe reserve that would be appropriate for standard accounting practices.

    The pictures are from the Thunder Over The Valley Air Show at Santa Maria, Ca in August of 2014. I was just learning to fly her.
    Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


    • #3

      That is a beautiful bird you have there!
      What is the time limit for having the Rotax Motor rebuild and Cost? I am wondering what those same values are for the rotor and prop as well. What all is included in a 100 hour service? Is there a location / website that would have this posted? I have been looking for this information but have not yet successfully found it yet.


      • #4
        Autogiro GMBH, the maker of the Cavalon is pretty good about publishing their service manuals that have everything but the costs associated with the things you are interested in. It has been several years since I looked so you are on your own. You might try contacting Autogiro USA for the information Chris.

        The Cavalon was a loaner in the hopes I would sell them in California. I was slow to become a CFI and it was a slow close so AirGyro got tired of waiting and I took her back.

        The 914 manual that I read said Time Between Overhauls (TBO) is 2,000 hours and the number I hear tossed about is $15,000 for a rebuild, parts and labor assuming no major challenges.

        You will need to look up the time on the rotor system, prop, control cables and fuselage because it was not something I was concerned with. I went through a set of brake pads because I have a mile long taxi to the run up area and there is usually a tail wind. I try to taxi no faster than a brisk walk so I have to ride the brakes. We also had the idle set a little high; 1,700 per advice from other owners. I replaced the teeter bearings, the after muffler and a rotor tach sender.

        I fly and train in a two place tandem "The Predator" now and with reserves for propeller, engine, airframe and rotor she cost me around $100 per hour including insurance and hangar rent. It is hard to pin it down because she is a one of a kind and already has almost 1,800 hours on her. Some of my clients have been a little hard on her requiring repairs to the nose gear and helmets and that is not included. The replacement cost of the airframe is also hard to pin down. I also continue to upgrade her and that is not included because it is not predictable.

        I am in the middle of working on her now so I need to get back to work. I hope to have her flying by 10/14.
        Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


        • #5
          Vance I would like to sincerely thank you for your help and knowledge transfer!!! This is certainly more information than I had before and leads to find even more data.

          I really like your Predator and it's aggressive stance! Makes me think of the Gyros used in the Bond film You only Live Twice. Should I find myself in California will reach out to you in hopes of going for a ride with ya.
          Again much thanks sir!
          Best Regards,


          • #6
            Glad to help any way I can Chris. I love flying gyroplanes and sharing the fun.
            Regards, Vance Breese Gyroplane CFI


            • #7
              Hello Chris:
              That is a loaded question!
              As Vance indicated, there are many factors which go into : What does it cost per hour to fly?
              Fuel, Insurance, Maintenance, Hanger Rent, Condition Inspection (annually), among other incidentals.
              Most of the owners, that have machines which cost below $25K, do not carry insurance. Maintenance is a minimal expense on most machines. Hanger rent is a major expense, but if several owners can share a hanger, it really helps. Condition Inspection is pretty much a fixed total just like rent.
              I burn 100LL fuel and pre-mix my 2 stroke oil. My fuel burn is normally 6 to 8 gallons per hour. This is average of about $35 per hour.
              I figure I am flying for about $50 per hour average. Fuel will be your major expense!!!
              David McCutchen
              Bensen B7m, 90 hp Mac
              Dominator Tandem, 100 hp Hirth
              Kolb Mark III Classic, 80 hp Verner
              Certified - Advanced Master Beef Producer
              EAA Member #0511805
              PRA Member #28866
              PRA Chapter 16 Member
              Secretary & Treasure - PRA Chapter 16
              President / Sylvia - Yellow Creek Volunteer Fire Dept.
              Chairmen - Dickson County Veteran's Day Committee
              Volunteer - Dickson County Airport Aviation Day Committee
              2 busy 2 No!


              • #8
                Thanks to all three of you for bringing up this (possibly sensitive) subject. The answers covered more areas than I had thought about, and leads me to consider trailering alternatives to hangers, and brings "folding masts" into the picture for the first time. Also, you covered the range of aircraft cost nicely.



                • #9
                  Hi Chris,
                  For small aircraft, costs generally fall into two buckets: Cost to own, and Cost to operate. The cost to own is generally: Hangar, Insurance, and an annual inspection. These costs can vary wildly.

                  For fixed costs, a hangar cost $350 a month where I live, if you can find one. My costs have been reduced because there are 3 gyros sharing a typical T hangar. Insurance can be as high as $5000 per year, but less if liability only, and as some have mentioned, you may choose not to insure, depending on the state. I built my gyro, so I will be inspecting it, but I would expect in the neighborhood of $1000 for an annual inspection.

                  Operational costs are typically: fuel, engine reserves, and general maintenance. A Rotax 912/914 gyro will burn 4 to 5 gallons of 91+ octane auto fuel per hour. For a 914 engine, assume $12 per hour. I'd add another $5 per hour for other items (like oil changes and a new prop at some point). This works out to be about $30 per flight hour.

                  So, if you fly the gyro 100 hours a year, keep it in a shared hangar for $100 per month, and pay for an annual inspection, your annual "cost" would be between $5,000 and $10,000. (depending on insurance)

                  How most people keep costs down are:
                  -Gyro kept in at home, likely in a trailer. (costs are reduced, but it makes using the gyro much harder)
                  -Gyro not insured or minimally insured. (I do not recommend this if you are the new owner of any of the newer European gyros, like the brand AutoGyro. Insurance is available and the machines are relatively expensive. It is however viable for older single place gyros where insurance is difficult)
                  -Fly fewer hours per year. (100 is a lot of hours to fly in a year. It basically averages to 2 hours every weekend of the year! )
                  -Get involved in the local gyro community to find a friendly mechanic that will perform an annual condition inspection at a reasonable price.


                  • #10
                    My own experience is that cost to purchase can seem high, but cost of ownership is by far the lowest of any aircraft I've ever owned.

                    I paid $72,000 for my MTO (914 turbo, fully tricked out). BUT...I paid very little to actually own and fly it. $150 per month for a shared hangar space. Routine maintenance was similarly cheap, probably $35-50 per oil change (25-50 hours, depending on which fuel you burn), and about $14 per hour in fuel when running 93 octane from the local gas station.

                    It really depends on what you want to set money aside for per flight hour. I actually didn't put any aside....I treated it like my car or my motorcycle, meaning I flew it when I wanted to fly it, and paid for maintenance and all that as-needed.