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Flight School Comparison Checklist

DRY RATE vs WET RATE DON’T BE FOOLED!

Aircraft are offered for rental on either a “dry” or “wet” basis. Most schools rent air- craft on a wet basis which means that the cost of fuel is included in the rental rate. Flying clubs and companies that engage exclusively in aircraft rentals (ie, no formal flight training) commonly rent aircraft on a dry basis. A dry rental rate excludes the cost of fuel, and the renter is typically responsible for refueling the aircraft upon his/ her return at the renter’s expense.

As you would expect, published dry rates are substantially less than wet rates, and trying to compare the two is sometimes confusing, especially since some companies may try to overstate the financial benefits of renting dry. When comparing wet aircraft rental rates to dry ones, care must be taken to account for the true cost of a dry rental. Pilots who rent on a dry basis will have every incentive to save as much as possible on the fuel costs because it comes directly out of their pocket. If they can find cheap fuel, then an hourly cost savings may be realized over a wet rental. What is often not rec- ognized is that the cost savings can quickly erode as the pilot incurs additional costs, time and effort seeking the lowest priced fuel in the area.

Consider a pilot who rents an aircraft on a dry basis at his local airport at a rate of $65 per hour. Lets further assume that the aircraft burns 10 gallons/per hour on average.

The competing rental company at the airport rents the very same aircraft on a wet basis for $110 per hour. The wet rental company must base their fuel cost on the local fuel price which, for our example, is $4.00 per gallon.

In an effort to save money, the dry-rental pilot discovers a cheaper source of fuel (a whopping $0.50/gal lower!) at a nearby airport only 10 miles away. After each flight, the dry renter plans to land at the nearby airport to fill up and net the cost savings over the wet renter. Using our assumptions, the pilot would save $5 per hour ($0.50/ gal/hr * 10 gph) renting dry and using the cheaper gas versus renting wet (the wet rental company must incur a higher fuel cost at the base airport).

What must be considered, however, is that the pilot will incur additional flight time in diverting to the nearby airport, landing, taxiing to the fuel station, restarting, taxiing back out and departing the airport area. At a rental rate of $65/hr, just adding a very conservative 2/10 of an hour to the trip for the fuel stop would add $20 (0.2 x $65)

  • +

    (0.2 * 10g * $3.50/gal) to the price of the flight. On a typical training flight of 1.5

hours, this is how the comparison would filter out:

DRY RENTAL:

ACFT FUEL

    • 1.5

      hrs * $65/hr =

    • 1.5

      hrs * 10gph * $3.50/gal =

REPOSITION COSTS FOR CHEAP FUEL

TOTAL RENTAL COST

$97.50 $52.50 $20.00 ===== $170.00

TOTAL EQUAVALENT WET HOURLY COST (DRY RENTAL)

$113.33/hr

WET RENTAL:

$110.00/hr

Revision No: Original Revision Date: 01JUL2006

Page A

© 2006, Avia Aero Services Inc.

Flight School Comparison Checklist

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