What questions should you ask before renting an aircraft from a private owner?

If you ever rent or have thought of renting an aircraft from a private person, Tobin Fricke has posted several excellent questions that you should be asking on the Ask a Flight Instructor website. His questions were the following:

• Before renting a plane from a private person, what should we discuss and what should I check? Of course, I would want to verify the airworthiness of the plane. What sort of things do we need to agree upon?

• What sort of insurance is necessary?

• Does renting a plane from someone (exchange of $ for airplane time) trigger the requirement for a 100-hour inspection (operation for hire)?

• What is a good way to find someone (other than a flight school) with an airplane to rent?

Jon responded with a lengthy answer based upon his own experiences. He began by first noting that you should have a contract that, at a minimum, covers the following items:

      • how much the owner is charging you per hour
      • whether that’s billed by the clock, hobbs or tach
      • whether it’s a wet or dry rate (and if it’s a wet rate, how is reimbursement for fuel handled)
      • how often will you be billed (leave a check at the end of every flight or get a statement at the end of the month)
      • how is maintenance handled if something happens away from home (who pays, at what point do you need the owner’s blessing, etc)

He then added that you should go through the logbooks and make sure they contain the current annual for the airframe, engine(s) and the propeller(s) as well as current entries for the pitot-static system, transponder and ELT. And if the owner won’t show you the logbooks, don’t even consider renting the aircraft.

Commenter John D. Collins then pointed out that some aircraft insurance policies will specifically prohibit the renting of or instruction in an airplane. In other words, you need to make sure that you don’t run afoul of such insurance policies.

Matthew Waugh also added that the insurance questions are critical as there are two things to keep in mind here:

  1. Is the aircraft OWNER insured?
  2. Are YOU also insured?

Commenter Jon then responded by noting that from his own personal experience, everyone will look for someone else to blame when something goes wrong and that will include the insurance company. Hence, you better make sure that every “I” is dotted and that every “T” is crossed to avoid things getting nasty or expensive should something go wrong. He also added that you should think very seriously about getting renter’s insurance that covers whatever an insurance company could try and come after you for.

Hence and if you are planning to rent an aircraft from a private owner, this entire thread containing all the response to Tobin’s question on the Ask a Flight Instructor website is a must read.


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