Leaseback DA40?

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I posted this question in a response to some part of your blog but I
can't remember where - no search engine... didn't know about this
aviation forum then.

Anyway, I was out at the Worcester Airport yesterday helping out
with the Eplane/hybrid fly-in and got talking with the Diamond sales
guy. He was pushing some interesting numbers about leasing back a
DA40, which I really, really like, to possibly East Coast Aero.

What's the consensus on the viability of leasebacks, particulary
with this airplane @ $240K+ ? He said it would go for about
$120/hr. I find it hard to believe especially in these lean times
that I could pay a $4K+ note per month on a leaseback that excludes
green students.

He was really negative on the Cirrus - 7 fatal crashes????
Uninsurable? Yikes!

Would really like to have a fuel cell powered plane NOW!

Working on it:

Tnx... Jeff

-- Jeff Colter, October 12, 2003


Leaseback makes sense if you're a radiologist (average salary $300,000 per year) and want the tax deducations for what would otherwise be a personal purchase and non-deductible. If you're in the highest tax bracket and have no other way of writing off the plane, a leaseback makes sense, at least through the end of 2003 when the special depreciation allowance expires (and presumably we can expect a huge crash in the demand for airplanes in 2004). Of that $120/hour rental you'd be getting maybe $30/hour from the flight school and they'd keep the rest to pay for gas, maintenance, etc. In New England maybe the plane would fly an average of 60 hours per month at a really active school so that's $1800 per month into your pocket. Without the depreciation the rule is that you need to charge $100 per hour for every $100,000 of airplane. I.e., a $240,000 plane would rent for $240/hour.

Cirrus does have a lot of crashes but partly that is because they are cranking out so many airplanes. I think that they're up to 2 per day right now. Cirrus is the new Cessna! You can get insurance for a Cirrus but it will be at least 2X the cost of insurance for a DA40. If you have 500+ hours and a Commercial and fly a lot the Cirrus should be a nice plane for transportation (though a 10-year-old turbocharged Mooney that can get above the clouds and is certified for ice is probably much better in cold cloudy New England). Cirrus seems to market its planes, however, to brand new pilots and weekend flyers. A lot of the crashes seem to be those guys getting overconfident with the weather and so forth, perhaps tempted into more challenging flights by the Cirrus's fancy avionics. I've been flying a rented Piper Arrow recently. It doesn't have a moving-map GPS or an autopilot. There is no way that I would take it into the clouds without a very experienced copilot. But a Cirrus with a two-axis approach certified autopilot and a couple big screens seems like it would work okay for single-pilot IFR. That's certainly a higher risk choice than sitting on the ground with the Arrow waiting for VFR weather.

-- Philip Greenspun, October 12, 2003

David: I'm flying the Arrow because I need retract training for my Commercial certificate. The DA40 has many virtues but FAA-mandated complexity, in the form of wheels that retract, isn't one of them.

Joe: I didn't realize it was time to throw rocks at Tom Wardleigh, my 33,000-hour CFII! There are a lot of macho guys who do single-pilot IFR/IMC and it is legal for Part 91 but they seem to have a rather dismal safety record. IFR without an autopilot is in fact strictly illegal for Part 135/121, which shows that the FAA shares some of my superstitions. And actually for Part 121 when navigation was done by VOR, DME, and ADF the FAA mandated crews of 3 or 4 for jets (2 pilots, 1 flight engineer (pressurization, hydraulics), 1 navigator). Personally I take the position that there are reasons that the airlines have a 50X better safety record than general aviators and try to do everything as much like the airlines as is practical (ILS/radar in bad weather, two pilots for IMC or one pilot and one very good autopilot, skip night flying because I don't have a turbine engine).

-- Philip Greenspun, October 14, 2003

"It doesn't have a moving-map GPS or an autopilot. There is no way that I would take it into the clouds without a very experienced copilot"


If you cannot competently (and comfortably) fly a small plane IFR without a moving map GPS and an autopilot, then your CFII did not train you properly. No doubt that all the navigation capabilities of current GPS and moving map technology can make your life easier, but if you can't do the job without the boxes, then the boxes are a crutch, not an aid.

IFR certified GPS moving map technology is a relatively new thing in small airplanes (last 5 years or so). Before then, )and still now to vast extent) how do you think we all navigated around in the clouds? VOR, DME, ADF.

Don't get me wrong. Technology is swell, but a moving map Inertial Navigation System permitted American Airlines to fly into the side of a mountain in Cali, Columbia a few years ago. Airbus autothrottle features of their autopilots were famous for causing several crashes, (including one which claimed the life of their chief test pilot) because when the highly trained airline pilots engaged them, they didn't know what the the thing was thinking, or how it would respond in a given situation. I think they finally got the software worked out since there hasn't been an avionics related crash for a couple of years now.

The point here is that if you are not competent in maintaining situational awareness and airplane control using "raw data" and basic instrument flying skills, then the only thing the fancy avionics is going to do is postpone the inevitable.

On a diffent note, I've started flying and instructing in the Cirrus SR-22. It great fun, and I enjoy flying the plane immensely. It does take a bit of skill to manage all the preformance, and your landing speed has to be pretty exact for consistant landings. I haven't had the opportunity to try out the parachute yet, but it's comforting to know that if I ever have an engine failure over any of the numerous moutain ranges here in Wisconsin, I don't have to attempt a forced landing on one of them!

All the Best,

-- Joe Oliva, October 13, 2003

Philip, why have you been flying an Arrow, given that you own a DA40?

-- David Adams, October 13, 2003

Numerous...mountain Wisconsin?

*pulls out his Green Bay sectional*

Maybe it's because I'm from the west coast originally, but I can't see a single mountain here. What are you talking about?

Secondarily...instruction in an SR22! Where? Sign me up! :D

-- Paul Blair, October 14, 2003

"Leaseback makes sense if you're a radiologist (average salary $300,000 per year)"

Uh, your point? If you are an MIT professor with an average salary of 120k, then leaseback isn't an issue?

Haven't seen much on your recent experience with DA 40. I am a radiologist, by chance, average salary 300k, looking to learn to fly and purchasing a da40, but waiting for the next model with integrated Garmin 1000. I deal in virtual reality, so idea of learning in DA 40 and moving up to IFR training in this appeals to me.

Anyway, curious as to what you think of DA vs Tiger, Cessna, Socata, Symphony and Maule.


-- Jesse Cole, November 14, 2003