The legendary Piper PA-28 Cherokee is a popular single-engine, piston-powered airplane.
One day I hope to own one, so I was particularly curious to find out how much a Piper PA-28 Cherokee costs to own and operate.
I’ve done my research for both new and second-hand PA-28 Cherokees and will share what I’ve found in this article.
A brand new Piper PA-28 Cherokee costs $201,400 in 2023. A second-hand Piper PA-28 Cherokee costs approximately $28,000 to $135,000 (aged from 1967 to 2003). In addition, the total cost of ownership (ignoring depreciation) but including costs such as insurance, maintenance, and hangar costs will be approximately $16,025 annually. The total cost to fly is approximately $160 per hour (based on 100 flying hours).
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Why the Piper PA-28 Cherokee is a Great Plane
Newly qualified private pilots often consider purchasing a Piper PA-28 Cherokee because of the relatively low price, fuel efficiency, and easy handling of the aircraft.
Not only that but the Piper PA-28 Cherokee can carry up to 4 passengers including the pilot.
In this article, which is the latest in our series about the cost of small planes, I’ll cover the total cost of ownership and the various financing options for a Piper PA-28 Cherokee. Learn about selecting the perfect small plane for your needs.
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Cost of Purchasing a Piper PA-28 Cherokee
There is a big price difference between purchasing a new or used Piper PA-28 Cherokee.
A new Piper PA-28 Cherokee starts at around a cost of $201,400. 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 Garmin G1000 avionics, asps, vortex generators, deice boots, club seating or other add-ons.
If you’re on a budget, you can pick up a good condition used Piper PA-28 Cherokee within the $28,000 to $135,000 price range for a 1967 to 2003 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 Piper PA-28 Cherokee, they are easy to acquire. There are many of them on the market because they first launched in 1961 and are still being manufactured to this day.
You can probably find a decent condition Piper PA-28 Cherokee for about $28,000. Keep in mind that they sell quickly once they go on the market.
Ownership Costs of a Piper PA-28 Cherokee
After purchasing a Piper PA-28 Cherokee, 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 $16,025 annually.
Total fixed costs are going to be approximately $5,225 and total variable costs will set you back around $10,800 (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 Cherokee.
If purchasing your new or used Piper 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 Piper PA-28 Cherokee 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 PA-28 Cherokee 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 aircraft (excluding the purchase price) are going to be approximately $5,225 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 Cherokee, 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 Piper PA-28 Cherokee
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 Piper PA-28 Cherokee.
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 Piper PA-28 Cherokee?
Insurance for owning and flying a Piper PA-28 Cherokee 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 Piper PA-28 Cherokee is the valuation of the airplane.
The cost to insure a used Piper PA-28 Cherokee will be approximately $2,100 per year.
The cost to insure a brand new Piper PA-28 Cherokee will cost many multiples of that due to the high replacement cost of a new aircraft.
How much is an annual inspection for a Piper PA-28 Cherokee?
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 $5,225 each year. In my calculations, I’ve also allowed for other necessary maintenance for parts at around $500 each year.
What Are the Variable Costs for Piper PA-28 Cherokee 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 $10,800 annually.
The variable cost to fly works out at around $108 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 PA-28 Cherokee.
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.
Piper PA-28 Cherokee Fuel Costs
The Piper PA-28 Cherokee uses avgas, and this costs about $70 per hour of flight.
Currently, avgas costs about $5 per gallon, and the Piper PA-28 Cherokee consumes 13.0 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.
Piper PA-28 Cherokee 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 Piper PA-28 Cherokee will typically run at about $3 per running hour.
Piper PA-28 Cherokee 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 PA-28 Cherokee 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 Piper PA-28 Cherokee 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 Piper PA-28 Cherokee
You can be almost guaranteed that there will be other minor costs associated with owning and flying not just the Piper PA-28 Cherokee 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 Piper PA-28 Cherokee
I know there are a few different financing alternatives available for this kind of aircraft because I have friends who own a Piper PA-28 Cherokee. 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 Piper PA-28 Cherokee, 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 Piper PA-28 Cherokee
Applying for a conventional loan from a bank or credit union to finance your Piper PA-28 Cherokee 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 Piper PA-28 Cherokee 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 Piper PA-28 Cherokee
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 Piper PA-28 Cherokee.
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 Piper PA-28 Cherokee (on indeed any plane) can be expensive.
It’s all relative, though. If you have a love for flying, and you can afford it, then it’s really worth it. Compared to other planes, it’s not too bad. Doing the math, the running cost for a Cherokee aircraft is somewhere in the region of about $160 per hour (fixed and variable costs). The variable cost to fly is around $108 per hour (fuel, oil, maintenance etc.).
Alternatively, the majority of newly qualified private pilots prefer to rent a Piper PA-28 Cherokee if that makes more financial sense for them.
That’s it for this article. Meanwhile, safe flying!