Ingo Noka

Buying an Airplane II

In Equipment, Gear, Ownership on March 2, 2013 at 11:15 pm

9M-DRJ and me

Hurray – I bought an airplane! You probably ask whether I ended up buying the Cessna 182 or the Diamond DA40.  Well, neither.

The thing is that I forgot to talk about money in my first post.  The issue is that you need to have enough money left to maintain and fly the aircraft.  If you max out your budget buying the plane, you won’t be happy.

So I decided to go for a relatively new and affordable Piper Archer III.  It does not have a glass cockpit.  The instruments are all analog with two VOR/Localizer CDIs one glide-slope indicator, ADF, KAP140, KLN89B, etc. – basically the original Silvercrown Bendix/King stack. On of the coolest features is the Piper Aire air conditioning.  I don’t think you can go wrong with an a/c in the tropical climate down here.   The call sign is 9M-DRJ and I will post a lot more about my new toy.

9M-DRJ Instrument Panel

Today I flew my own plane for the first time after I picked it up from the 50/100 hours inspection.  It was poor bliss. I just showed up when I was ready and my plane was waiting for me. In my book there is nothing more exhilarating than flying in your own aircraft knowing that nobody else will sit in your seat unless you say so. (no changing seat position and adjusting seat belts anymore!)

The biggest issue with the Archer III is that it has a bigger engine (180 hp) but the same amount of usable fuel.  I don’t think you can stretch it much farther than 500 nm.  I will keep rack of my fuel usage and report back.

The biggest advantage is that, as far as airplanes go, maintenance and parts are relatively cheap.  I can actually afford to fly my plane as much as I want.

Of course, I got a healthy dose of what it means to be an aircraft owner straight away.  After I spent one and a half hour in the training areas, I wanted to go back to Singapore, Seletar.  After three hours of waiting for a thunderstorm to pass, I hit the start button, and …. nothing! The battery was flat and it turns out it is about two years old, which is a lifetime for batteries.  I am trying to get this fixed tomorrow so that I don’t have to wait at the Woodlands checkpoint and instead just fly to Singapore.  Thankfully, the aircraft came with a parking space at the compact parking area of Seletar airport.

  1. Hello Ingo, your beautiful PA28, with Lycoming 0-360 engine, there is a mogas STC conversion. Is that possible to do it ? Is it legal to run mogas in Malaysia and Singapore with the STC Conversion ?

    • I don’t know who is asking the question, but thanks for the kind words about my aircraft anyway.

      Common wisdom in the Malaysian GA community is that the DCA of Malaysia does not permit Mogas for CoA aircraft. There is an Airworthiness Notice No 42 dated 1 April 1987, which does not seem to close the door to the use of Mogas altogether, but sends the message that any attempt to get this approved for an aircraft on the Malaysian register will cost more than what you can ever hope to save by switching to the cheaper fuel. Here are a couple of points DCA makes in their Notice:

      1. “… the use of motor gasoline (mogas) is not permitted by the DCA unless the aircraft concerned was type certificated using this fuel (or its use subsequently approved).”
      The term “subsequently approved” could be construed as referring to STCs, but I don’t think anybody is willing to test that theory.

      2. On the subject of approvals to use Mogas in other countries: “(DCA) … does not consider that these approvals can be directly read across to the use of such a fuel in Malaysia.”
      DCA argues that the climate in SEA is sufficiently different to prevent an “automatic” acceptance of Mogas approval from other countries.

      3. DCA allows the use of any fuel that allowed in the approved Pilot Operating Handbook, which seems to suggest that aircraft such as the Tecnam T2006, which is a CoA aircraft with two Rotax 912 engines, should be allowed to operate on Mogas even when registered in Malaysia.

      4. Finally, the DCA says in closing that anybody who wants to get a modification for the use of Mogas approved, needs to bear all the cost and do all the work and have the aircraft manufacturer support this endeavor.

      I have a couple of points myself:

      1. The fuels you can by at the next gas station is not the same as Mogas. In fact, what is available in other countries under the name Mogas does not exist in SEA.
      2. If you decide to go with auto fuel, it will give you more options for flying into areas that have no Avgas supply. However, getting the fuel in an out of the airports will require the help from locals who know how to get stuff like this through security. (On the other hand, it is always better to at least have an option than to be stranded with no way to get fuel at all.)
      3. The future of piston engine fuel is in JetA and its equivalents (Diesel etc.) My dream aircrafts are either the new Cessna 182 with an AMS Diesel engine or a DA42 with teh Austro Diesel engine.

      In the meantime, I stick to airports that have Avgas supplies or fly with organizations like WoA who bring in fuel for longer flying tours into areas that do not normally have Avgas.

  2. Congrats on your new aircraft ! looks pretty new and nice from the pics, would like to take a look at it someday when you’re free. im working in seletar airport almost every other weekday, if u happen to come by, do call me out for lunch. hahas.

    For now, congrats again, and clear skies !

  3. Other than the cost of the aircraft, what were other hidden costs (I’m not asking about the amount, but what other ‘paperwork’ / tasks that involved additional costs eg. C of R application, insurance, maintenance contract etc.

    Is it required that your aircraft be part of an organization, or is it registered as owned & operated by yourself?

    • I will cover this in more detail in one of my next posts. In the meantime, let me give you a few preliminary pointers.

      You will have to cover the following things at the beginning of your aircraft ownership:

      – insurance (aircraft, third part liability and accident) – as far as I can tell, only the liability insurance is mandatory. You will have to engage an insurance broker in Malaysia, because apparently it is not possible to contract an insurance company directly. The liability bit is more or less fixed, but on aircraft (hull) and accident you have some freedom to change the premium and coverage. For example you can decide whether to get an accident insurance for all seats or just two. You may find however that you won’t get away with much less than USD 400 to 600 per months for a low end aircraft such as the piper.

      – Maintenance contract. You have to enter into a maintenance contract with a company that is able to maintain the aircraft in accordance with the requirements of the DCA Malaysia. The pricing is a bit sensitive, so I suggest you inquire with the companies in Johor, Subang or Ipoh that provide such services.

      – Certificate of Airworthiness. This should exist of course when you buy the aircraft. However, the renewal will cost you money every year, so it matters when the C of A expires.

      – Certificate of Registration. I have not completed this, but the cost is not significant if I understand that correctly. Aircraft can only be registered by Malaysian Citizens, permanent residents and Malaysian companies. Setting up a Malaysian company is somewhat complex and it is best to use a Corporate Services Company to do it. They will advise how to set up the company under Malaysian law. The will set you back about SGD 1500 and a small monthly service fee after that.

      – Parking. This cost will be very different dependent on whether you park in Malaysia or in Singapore and whether you go for a hangar (e.g. in Subang) or park outside. Again pricing is proprietary information, but you can inquire with Wings over Asia for parking at Seletar and with the flying clubs in Johor for parking at Senai Airport.

      – Fuel. You can either set a an account with Petronas or pay cash. At the moment I pay cash.

      – Landing fees, passnegers fees etc. I am still using the accounts of the previous owner, but will report back when I have set up my own.

      I am not sure whether that covers all. My advice would be to buy the aircraft with cash (no capital cost), buy cheap enough so that you can afford to fly the aircraft as much as you want and calculate your expense with no less than USD 100 per flying hour (somewhat optimistic, but includes a fund for engine and propeller overhaul).

  4. The insturment panel looks great ….. did you get it redone??

    • As far as I can tell the instrument panel is exactly as put in by Piper, with the exception of the Stormscope. Looks beautiful and color scheme of the panel agrees with the interior as well.

  5. that’s fantastic Ingo! Can’t wait to see it in action!

    • I am planning to fly from Seletar quite frequently. There are always two seats for anybody who needs to go to Senai! (Just for the avoidance of doubt and for the folks who like to write letters to the DCA – I am not charging anything and I when and whether I fly is entirely my own decision.)

  6. Big big congrats, Ingo! Also give us some hint about the cost..

    • I think will keep the actual purchase price between me and the seller. You can have a look at the WoA web site to find out what the asking price was.

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