Auto, Yachts, Jets: Tips Before Upgrading to a Faster Jet

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Looking to trade-in that old Gulfstream G5 to a sleek and faster G6? Pilots have a reputation as people who really enjoy going fast. But there are several considerations before pilots upgrade to a faster airplane.

General aviation pilots are just as susceptible to the allure of power and speed as sports car enthusiasts. So here are a few tips to consider before upgrading to that faster private jet.


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Mission

Why do people fly? Is it just for general aviation fun? Or do they fly their aircraft regularly to get to meetings, weekend getaways, and family events? Do they frequently make day trips where they need to return home before dark? Do they carry passengers and baggage? Pilots should ask themselves these questions to evaluate the practical aspects of a faster airplane and whether a few additional knots of airspeed are necessary.

Cost

Faster single-engine planes are more expensive to buy and fly. Above 140 knots, you'll be looking at aircraft with retractable landing gear, which ups the price as well as the maintenance. Faster planes have bigger, more powerful engines, but these kinds of engines use more gas and need more oil, too. All these factors add to the cost of flying a faster plane. Pilots must determine if the additional cost is worth it for the faster aircraft.


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Pilot License Endorsement

A major consideration before pilots upgrade to a faster airplane is whether they'll be able to fly a more powerful airplane legally. A high-performance endorsement is now required for any aircraft with more than 200 horsepower. But according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), a 1997 change in Part 61 requires a new endorsement for "complex aircraft," defined as a plane with "retractable gear, flaps, and controllable pitch propeller."

Many pilots who held a high-performance endorsement earned by flying a plane with less than 200 horsepower may now need an updated one for an aircraft with greater horsepower. Others would need an additional complex aircraft endorsement unless they flew a plane that would now be considered "complex" before August 4, 1997.


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Peripheral Upgrades

Buying a faster plane may lead to a cascade of other peripheral upgrades to go with the new, speedy cruiser. A good example is a headset. It's important to learn to recognize the signs that it's time to upgrade it. Will it do what it needs to do with the upgraded avionics in the new aircraft? Why not add on a new aviation smartwatch as well? And if a pilot doesn't already have them, they could also add a new handheld transceiver with Bluetooth and an upgraded iPad with aviation apps.

Buying a faster airplane comes down to how badly a pilot needs it, how much it costs, and whether they are willing to earn a new endorsement for their pilot's license to fly it.


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