With its twin turboprop engines and spacious cabin, the Piper PA-42 Cheyenne is a popular choice for owner-pilots wanting a high-performance turbine aircraft. As an aviation enthusiast, I decided to research the costs of purchasing and operating this exceptional airplane.
In this article, I’ll share details on the Cheyenne’s price tag, operating expenses, maintenance needs and financing options. Whether you dream of owning a Piper turboprop or just love learning about aircraft, read on!
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Why Pilots Love the Piper PA-42 Cheyenne
First flown in 1978, the PA-42 appealed to pilots thanks to strengths like:
- Twin 500 HP Pratt & Whitney PT6A turboprop engines provide excellent performance and redundancy.
- Spacious 8-seat cabin with club seating, a galley and lavatory.
- Pressurization provides comfortable flight up to 25,000 feet.
- Range over 1,600 nm means the Cheyenne can cover long distances.
- Modern avionics and autopilot simplify flying this capable twin.
- Cabin class and utility in a midsize turbine package.
For owner-pilots needing significant range and capacity in a pressurized twin turboprop, the Cheyenne hits a sweet spot. Now let’s explore the costs.
What’s the Price Tag on a Cheyenne?
While new production ceased in 1986, some new old stock Cheyennes are still available from Piper for around $3.15 million. However, most buyers pursue pre-owned models to get the best value. The used market is far more accessible.
When new, Cheyenne models with additional options and higher-end interiors could list for over $4 million. Today’s pre-owned pricing is much more reasonable.
What’s the Cost for a Pre-Owned Cheyenne?
Since the Cheyenne has been out of production for decades, purchasing used is the normal route. Expect to spend $425,000 to $1.3 million for a Cheyenne built between 1981 and 1986 in good shape. Many are much less.
As with any used aircraft purchase, overall condition, maintenance history, engine times, avionics suite and interior finish impact pricing significantly. Models needing engine overhaul will be at the lower end of that range.
While still a sizable investment, a pre-owned Cheyenne can be a fraction of the cost of a new turboprop with similar capability.
Fixed Operating Costs for the Piper Cheyenne
When your Cheyenne is parked, you’ll still face fixed operating expenses. Plan on around $19,130 annually including:
For a cabin-class turboprop like the Cheyenne, hangar storage runs at least $600 per month or $7,200 annually. Higher cost areas can be twice that amount.
Expect to budget around $7,800 per year for comprehensive hull and liability insurance coverage.
Minor fixed costs like subscriptions and tiedown fees could total around $90 per month or $1,080 annually.
So keep around $19,130 on hand for annual fixed operating expenses.
Variable Costs of Flying the Cheyenne
When you fly your Piper, variable operating expenses will accumulate. These will total approximately $42,789 annually assuming 100 flight hours.
The Cheyenne burns around 50 gallons per hour. With jet fuel at $3.59 per gallon, plan on $179 per flight hour.
Budget around $10 per hour for maintenance reserve given the Cheyenne’s turbine engines and systems.
Figure on $15 per flight hour for incidental expenses like landing fees, pilot supplies, etc.
Variable costs directly relate to how often you fly. For 100 annual hours, budget $42,789. The more you fly, the higher the variables.
Total Cheyenne Operating Cost Per Hour
When fixed and variable expenses are combined and divided across 100 hours annually, the total cost per flight hour is approximately $619. Here’s the breakdown:
- Fuel Costs: $179/hr
- Maintenance Reserves: $10/hr
- Miscellaneous Variable: $15/hr
- Fixed Costs (Annualized): $191/hr
So while not inexpensive to operate, the Cheyenne provides comfortable turbine performance for a moderate price, both to acquire and fly.
How Do You Pay for a Cheyenne Purchase?
Very few pilots can afford to purchase a Cheyenne with cash outright. But creative financing makes ownership attainable including:
Banks and credit unions may provide financing, normally with a 20% or higher down payment and higher interest rates than other loans. Shop multiple aviation lenders.
Leasing through a specialty finance company allows you to operate without purchasing outright. Typical lease terms are 4-7 years.
Spreading the acquisition and operating costs across a partnership or ownership group is a way to make the Cheyenne more accessible.
There are potential tax advantages to owning the aircraft through a business entity. Consult an aviation tax professional.
For many pilots, creative financing is the only realistic pathway to owning this marvel of turboprop engineering.
Is Buying a Piper Cheyenne Worth the Investment?
There’s no sugar-coating that owning a Cheyenne requires serious financial resources and commitment. However, for pilots who regularly need a capable, comfortable traveling machine, the operating costs can be justified.
The Cheyenne provides cabin-class amenities, proven reliability, and high performance. Those running aircraft-reliant businesses or who simply desire a well-equipped turboprop may find the Cheyenne well worth the investment.
While chartering a Cheyenne is always an option for those with more modest budgets, nothing quite compares to having your own plane. With realistic budgeting and financing, ownership is attainable.
I hope this comprehensive overview of the Piper Cheyenne’s costs and capabilities has provided helpful guidance. It remains a desirable turboprop decades after production ceased for good reason! Perhaps I’ll see you cruising high one day in your very own Cheyenne.