The costs of pleasure

In a nutshell : costs are high ! Whoever thinks he can operate a DUKE on the cost of a Seneca has no idea. Of course this is especially true here in Germany, Europe in general, where you have to pay thing like Airway Fee and Approach Fee on top of the omnipresent Landing Fee. All these costs are directly proportional to weight and that makes a lot of money.

Fuel consumption is high, so are the costs.

Maintenance is a little above average for that type of aircraft. Depending on the country you are based : high

Nothing peculiar about insurance costs.

My experiences derive from three years operating the DUKE, so they give a rather good insight. I must say though that a lot of costs are closely related to the German and European field of operation. Costs of labour etc. may vary from country to country.

In detail :

Fuel :

I have accounted every single liter of Avgas I have ever put into my DUKE. Every year I calculate fuel consumption on the hours flown-basis. Every I find out that the average consumption is between 175 and 185 liters per hour. Not more not less : that is is. I do fly on average power settings between 45 % and 55 %. It is really of no use cheating yourself into a lower fuel consumption because of the handbook. Two engines of 380 HP each need feeding. If you fly handbook values you end up going over the TIT redline, burn your valves and ruin your turbos. Another fact I discovered was that the higher you fly the more fuel you are using. The handbook says otherwise.

Now you can calculate your fuel costs

Maintenance :

Maintenance can be a very costly experience. And this has more than one reason.

First the DUKE is a rare aircraft. Maintenance people are familiar with Cessna 400 Serie, Beechcraft dealers and maintenance facilities know their Barons, if it is a large one they know their King Airs. Everyone says : no big deal, but if you question them in depth most likely the last time they worked on a DUKE was five years ago and then it was only a tire change. DUKES are constructed much closer to the King Air then to the Baron. Anyway you will have to pay for the improvement of the learning curve of the maintenance people. And then you pray to our Lord that the man who was payed for all that learning does not get fired. Otherwise you start from point zero, costwise.

Second : production standard. I sayed DUKES are constructed closer to King Airs then to Barons. This means you have a complex, well engineered airliner airframe. If you want to keep it that way there is no room for high speed tape. In other word : your maintenance people must be up to the standard of servicing an airliner rather than the everyday general aviation flyaround. Surely this is also true for the Cessna 400 Serie but it is not for the Baron (sorry folks) Cessna maintenance facilities know that, Beechcraft sometimes not. And this is especially true for the owner ! Beechcraft sold an airplane that is constructed like a King Air but with only six seats. So maintenance is for the big guys with a budget and an airplane fits into that budget or it doesn`t. For the big guys the aircraft is to small; it can not be run with profit. So DUKES were bought by private owners who very often did not have a budget, what they had was costs. Costs are something to avoid. If you avoid maintenance costs on a DUKE, the next owner will have to pay for them. They can`t be avoided.

Third : cost of spares. In the first year of your relation with the DUKE you can quite easy spent the same amount you spent on purchasing the DUKE on spares. A new generator will account for approx. $ 5.000. That is one ! The little switch you turn the yaw damper on is something like $ 700. Hold it ! These are two horrid examples. But keep in mind one thing : you may have bought a nice `80 DUKE for say $ 230.000. You made up your mind because it was a real bargain. You might have looked at a clean Cessna 340 and price was not that much lower. You might even have looked at a recent Bonanza and the price was not that much of a difference. So your wife, your friends your accountant and finanaly you yourself were convinced you could afford just that much in a really real airplane. With all due respect you signed the check with the funny feeling in your tommy that you bought a lot of airplane for a very reasonable price. And right you did ! But keep in mind that the average equipped `82 DUKE sold for around $ 600.000. If you calculate inflation and a moderate price increase you are just sitting in an aircraft that has a theoretically new value of about 1.3 Million US dollars ! Now you tell me you would never have spent that much money, that is why you bought it pre-owned as they say nowadays. But didn`t you forget something ? The cost of -new- spares are calculated on the basis of todays fictional new retail price of the aircraft. And there you are : the costs of the spares are expensive in comparison to the price you payed for your DUKE. That makes up for a lot of the prices that are around nowadays. But one thing is true also : shop around and look for the best price for your part. The man from Beechcraft might charge you 100% more then elsewhere. It really is worth looking around. Beware of bogus parts

How much does it cost, finally ? I always calculate 30% of the direct operating costs to be maintenance. If you fly around 100 hours a year, put aside at least $ 15.000 for maintenance and the usual little trouble shouting. Be prepared to spend much more if you are going into replacement of components like Propellers, Propeller Syncronizer, De-Ice, Tanks and whatever has to be replaced from time to time. One remanufactured engine by the way is $ 40.000 plus $15.000 refundable core deposit

Landing Fee, Airway Fee and Approach Fee

Typically German or European. In Europe you can calculate DM 100.-- ($ 75) Landing Fee, DM 80.-- ($ 55) per hour Airway Fee and - in Germany- DM 160.-- ($ 100) Approach Fee


Well, you should know before how much that is. Here we pay DM 800.-- ($ 550) upward. Whatever you do : get a hangar. The costs for repairing damage due to outdoor storage justify a hangar in any case.


This varies from country to country. If you have a question on German insurance, mail me

Last updated : 3.2.1997

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