Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Bonanza is dead! Long live The Bonanza!

I've noticed a trend in used aircraft pricing (to be sure, an anecdotal trend based on browsing Barnstormers and ASO when I should be working). In the past few months I've noticed that the prices of used large, high performance complex singles are becoming significantly less than lighter, slower singles.

This seems to suggest that owners of older high performance singles are having trouble selling their aircraft. It's not like these are bad airplanes either, I'm talking about seeing Mooney's, Turbo Lances, and Bonanza's with medium engine times (500-1000 hrs SMOH), NDH, complete logs selling for 60-80K.

Now it would be ridiculous of me to predict the future on one data point (not even a data point really, just me making an amateur observation). But it does feel like the GA landscape at large could be shifting towards lighter, slower singles. There are a few factors I believe that are affecting the GA market:
  • Rising fuel costs and rising pressure to do away with leaded avgas
  • Increased technology, easier to put into new airframes than retro-fit old aircraft
  • Increasing age of used aircraft, higher maintenance and upgrade costs
  • Despite problems with airlines, still cheaper / safer, and businesses would rather buy a plane ticket than reimburse a GA pilot to fly himself
  • Vast difference in price between NEW high performance singles vs. NEW or like new light sport
I don't think high performance singles (or even twins) will go away anytime soon (nor would I want it too...the day there isn't a Bonanza flying in the sky will be a very sad day), what I do think is that there will be a great divide in the GA fleet in the future. On one end you'll have a plethora of light-sport or light singles and on the other you'll see luxury turbine powered aircraft.

That's if I felt like making a ridiculous prediction of the future anyway. But if Kirk Hawkins is betting a company and billions of dollars on it . . . well maybe its not so ridiculous after all.

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