The Cirrus SR20, a renowned single-engine, piston-powered aircraft, stands as a coveted choice among aviation enthusiasts. Dreaming of one day owning this legendary plane, I delved deep into the costs associated with both purchasing and operating a new or second-hand SR20. This article presents the findings of my comprehensive research.
In 2024, acquiring a brand new Cirrus SR20 comes with a price tag of $494,900. For those considering the second-hand market, prices for a Cirrus SR20 range from $180,000 to $625,000, depending on the model year, with available aircraft dating from 2002 to 2020. Beyond the purchase price, the annual cost of ownership—excluding depreciation but covering insurance, maintenance, and hangar fees—totals approximately $16,525. For pilots planning to fly 100 hours per year, the operational cost averages out to about $165 per hour.
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Why the Cirrus SR20 is a Great Plane
Newly qualified private pilots often consider purchasing a Cirrus SR20 because of the relatively medium price, fuel efficiency, and easy handling of the aircraft.
Not only that but the Cirrus SR20 can carry up to 4 passengers including the pilot.
In this article, the latest in our series on how much do small planes cost, I’ll cover the total cost of ownership and the various financing options for a Cirrus SR20.
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Cost of Purchasing a Cirrus SR20
There is a big price difference between purchasing a new or used Cirrus SR20.
A new Cirrus SR20 starts at around a cost of $494,900. If purchasing a new aircraft, you’ll be guaranteed that it will be in perfect working order.
There are many optional extras to choose from, such as avionics, flight control, fuel tanks, enhanced visibility package, autopilot, TKS deice system or other add-ons.
If you’re on a budget, you can pick up a good condition used Cirrus SR20 within the $180,000 to $625,000 price range for a 2002 to 2020 model.
You can also pay far less, or far more than this, depending on the condition, age, and location of the aircraft.
Given the popularity of the Cirrus SR20, they are easy to acquire. There are many of them on the market because they first launched in 1999 and are still being manufactured to this day.
You can probably find a decent condition Cirrus SR20 for about $180,000. Keep in mind that they sell quickly once they go on the market.
Ownership Costs of a Cirrus SR20
After purchasing a Cirrus SR20, you won’t be finished spending money. You’ll soon have to start paying for the fixed and variable running costs. Be prepared for a total cost of ownership of $16,525 annually.
Total fixed costs are going to be approximately $7,225 and total variable costs will set you back around $9,300 (based on 100 annual flying hours. There’s also going to be a depreciation cost but it’s impossible to estimate this cost for your specific circumstances because there are so many factors to consider.
There are many fixed and variable costs of airplane ownership that beginners may not realize. Of course, this is true for any aircraft, not just for a SR20.
If purchasing your new or used Cirrus for straight-up cash, you don’t need to concern yourself with finance costs. If getting a loan to finance the purchase, you’ll also need to account for the interest repayment costs.
What Are the Fixed Costs for Cirrus SR20 Ownership?
We can define fixed costs of aircraft ownership as the costs that you’ll still have to pay regardless of whether the aircraft is flown or not.
So even if you purchase a SR20 and never fly it, you’ll still need to pay the fixed costs such as the once-off purchase price, the hangar fees to the aerodrome, insurance costs, and the annual inspection cost.
Fixed costs for this type of aircraft (excluding the purchase price) are going to be approximately $7,225 per year.
There’s also the depreciation of your aircraft’s asset value to consider. When figuring out how much it costs to own and run a SR20, it’s important to think about how its value goes down over time.
The amount of depreciation will depend on many things, such as how old the plane is, how much it cost to buy in the first place, what its expected resale value is, and how the market is doing. We know how important this cost is, but it’s hard to give an exact number without taking into account the unique circumstances of each aircraft.
To fully prepare for the annual inspection, you will also likely have to pay for any required maintenance that will be needed to pass the inspection.
Some people will group these maintenance costs into variable costs, but I like to classify them as fixed costs because you’ll still likely need to pay for them regardless of whether you fly or not.
I’ve also considered some regular subscriptions here that you might be paying for such as weather services or ForeFlight. Let’s allow about $605 to cover these other costs.
Hangar Costs for a Cirrus SR20
Hangar costs will vary greatly depending on location and the type of storage facility you’ll be renting space from.
In the US, you’ll find hangar space for approximately as little as $70 per month, although you’ll probably want to pay more than that for more facilities and security. Annually, you’re looking at about $850 for your storage costs at a hangar for your Cirrus SR20.
You don’t need necessarily need to rent storage space though. You might have the opportunity to build or buy your own hangar.
How much does insurance cost for a Cirrus SR20?
Insurance for owning and flying a Cirrus SR20 is not as expensive as you might think.
Again, just like the other costs, the cost of insurance will vary greatly depending on your location, frequency of flight, aircraft value, and type of cover.
Insurance pricing does vary due to so many factors. I recommend that you shop around and you might get a lower rate. Bear in mind that the lower rates will often only be liability-only cover. That won’t cover damage or loss to the aircraft itself. It will cover damage or injury to third persons.
The main factor in determining the cost of insuring a Cirrus SR20 is the valuation of the airplane.
The cost to insure a used Cirrus SR20 will be approximately $3,700 per year.
The cost to insure a brand new Cirrus SR20 will cost many multiples of that due to the high replacement cost of a new aircraft.
How much is an annual inspection for a Cirrus SR20?
Each year, the FAA stipulates that an aircraft must have an annual inspection. It costs about $1,100.
On top of that, you’ll still need to ensure that parts are in working order and oil and other fluids are topped up as needed.
The fixed maintenance costs (including the annual inspection) could be around $7,225 each year. In my calculations, I’ve also allowed for other necessary maintenance for parts at around $900 each year.
What Are the Variable Costs for Cirrus SR20 Ownership?
The variable costs such as fuel, oil, unscheduled maintenance and miscellaneous costs (landing fees, parking, minor travel costs) will probably cost in the region of about $9,300 annually.
The variable cost to fly works out at around $93 per hour. That’s based on 100 flying hours per year.
All we can provide here are estimates because your mileage may vary when it comes to variable costs for running a SR20.
The longer you own a plane for, the more the annual variable costs tend to start increasing. That’s mainly due to the increased maintenance costs.
Unlike fixed costs, you’ll only need to pay these costs when the plane is actually in use.
Cirrus SR20 Fuel Costs
The Cirrus SR20 uses avgas, and this costs about $55 per hour of flight.
Currently, avgas costs about $5 per gallon, and the Cirrus SR20 consumes 10.4 gallons of avgas each hour.
It pays to shop around when it comes to avgas prices. Different airports charge different amounts depending on location and how busy it is.
Cirrus SR20 Oil
If you are technically-minded, you can save money on labor by looking after oil changes yourself.
Otherwise, you’ll have to pay for the labor, oil, and filters out of your own pocket.
I’ve worked out that the oil cost for a Cirrus SR20 will typically run at about $3 per running hour.
Cirrus SR20 Engine Maintenance Costs
During the year, you might have to replace spark plugs and air filters. These are routine and usually done every 100 hours of flight time. They don’t cost too much.
The engine may need to be checked at regular intervals, such as with a compression test, which can help find problems before they get worse. Other costs for routine engine maintenance on a SR20 may include replacing hoses, belts, and other parts that are worn or broken.
Let’s be conservative and factor in say, $15 per running hour to cover these engine maintenance costs.
Every 2,000 hours or so, the engine of a Cirrus SR20 needs to be overhauled. This is also known as a TBO (Time Between Overhaul).
Overhauling an airplane engine can get very expensive very quickly depending on the condition of the engine, the age, the hours of wear and tear etc.
Safety is paramount, so it’s a crucial thing that needs to happen.
The engine is taken apart, and each component is carefully examined. This includes the pistons, bearings, cylinders as well as other parts of the engine. Repairs or replacements are carried out as necessary.
The more flight hours that build up on an engine, the more often it will need to be completely overhauled.
The overhaul cost probably works out at something like $10 per running hour. This is a rough estimate but it should give you an idea.
Miscellaneous Running Costs for the Cirrus SR20
You can be almost guaranteed that there will be other minor costs associated with owning and flying not just the Cirrus SR20 but indeed, any airplane.
Take for example, landing fees, parking, etc. I have estimated these to run at about $10 per flying hour. I’ve told you before, it ain’t cheap to fly!
That’s the fixed and variable costs covered. Now, let’s talk about how to afford one!
Financing Options for Purchasing a Cirrus SR20
I know there are a few different financing alternatives available for this kind of aircraft because I have friends who own a Cirrus SR20. Obtaining a loan from a bank or other financial organization is one choice.
Leasing the aircraft is an additional choice that enables you to use it for a predetermined period of time before returning it or even buying it at the conclusion of the lease. Last but not least, you could think about buying a share in one with a small group of people that you trust.
Whichever option you go for to purchase a Cirrus SR20, be sure to read all those T&Cs before you sign anything. You’ll need to understand the full terms and costs that you might be on the hook for.
Taking out a loan for one Cirrus SR20
Applying for a conventional loan from a bank or credit union to finance your Cirrus SR20 is one choice. If you have a high credit score and a solid financial history, this could be a wise decision.
Applying for a loan created especially for financing airplanes is an additional choice. If you have less-than-perfect credit, these loans frequently offer more scraping terms and might be more ready to work with you.
Practical advice: Before choosing a lender, it’s always a good idea to shop around and compare rates and terms from various lenders. Consider your financial situation carefully and make sure you can afford the loan payments.
For anyone who don’t want to commit to buying the aircraft outright, leasing a Cirrus SR20 can be a simple and affordable financing choice. When you rent a plane, you agree to use it for a predetermined amount of time—typically several years—in exchange for a fixed monthly payment. You have two options at the end of the lease: return the aircraft to the owner or maybe buy it for a set amount.
You can get wet leases (includes a pilot!) and dry leases (just the plane. You’ll most likely be opting for the dry lease option.
It makes sense to thoroughly investigate and compare lease possibilities from various suppliers. There can be a ton of paper work on lease agreements so make sure you can read the fine print. Same as for loans, think about your ability to make the payments for the duration of the full lease.
Buying a share in a Cirrus SR20
Buying a share in a plane enables you to own a portion of the plane and operate it jointly with other owners. This may be a reasonable alternative to outright purchase or long-term leasing if you need access to an aircraft.
It’s frequently referred to as ‘shared ownership’ or ‘fractional ownership.’ Typically, there is an initial investment required when purchasing a share of an aircraft, followed by continuing maintenance and operational expenses.
This is sometimes arranged or facilitated in local flying clubs. That’s where a lot of people will first hear of the practice of having a share in a Cirrus SR20.
The advantages of owning an airplane without having to pay for it outright can frequently be accessed by people or organizations at a reasonable cost through fractional ownership. It enables the owners to divide the aircraft’s initial purchase price as well as continuing maintenance and operational expenses.
How much of the aircraft each owner has access to and is responsible for maintaining will depend on the size of their respective shares.
People who desire to fly for personal or professional reasons but lack the funds or need to own a plane outright may be interested in fractional ownership. It can also be a viable alternative for companies that require regular access to an aircraft but do not want to assume full ownership responsibility.
As you can see, once you start adding everything up, the cost of ownership for a Cirrus SR20 (on indeed any plane) can be expensive. Discover the top choices for personal aircraft in our comprehensive article.
Indeed, the value of owning and operating a Cirrus SR20 is subjective and heavily dependent on an individual’s passion for flying and financial capability. When considering the entire spectrum of aircraft ownership costs, the SR20’s operational expenses, inclusive of both fixed and variable costs, average around $165 per hour. The variable expenses alone, such as fuel, oil, and maintenance, approximate $93 per hour, making it a relatively reasonable option for aviation enthusiasts compared to other aircraft.
For many newly minted private pilots, renting a Cirrus SR20 emerges as a financially prudent alternative. This option allows pilots to experience the joy and prestige of flying a Cirrus without the full financial commitment of ownership, aligning better with their budget and flying frequency.
That’s it for this article. Meanwhile, safe flying!