The cost of light planes

The cost of buying a Piper Cub or similar sport/light aircraft has risen very steeply as measured in constant dollars or labor hours since 1947, in contrast to the cost of most other engineered goods. Economists David Henderson and W. Kip Viscusi know why.


  • Then you have to add in the cost of maintaining the aircraft. I’m a licensed aircraft mechanic and could make some decent money on the side, except for the cost of my liability insurance. If I change the oil on Monday and the wing falls off on Friday, you can bet I am going to be sued.

  • Liability costs are important, but there’s another reason for the increase in the price of light sport aircraft. The Federal sport pilot license, which allows holders to fly only these planes, can be obtained with only 20 hours of instruction and no medical exam is needed (for most applicants). When the sport pilot license became available, the price of light sport aircraft soared.