Important Considerations About Aircraft Hangars
Whether you are an individual owner or a large operator, properly storing and protecting your aircraft is essential to maintaining the value of this asset and ensuring it continues to operate at peak performance. Consequently, it is important that you consider your options for hangaring an airplane before you acquire it.
Factors Affecting Hangaring Decisions
There are a number of factors you should consider when deciding how and where to store your aircraft. They include:
- Value of the aircraft
- Proximity of the airport to your home or place of business
- Cost of hangar space
- How frequently you use the plane
- Pros and cons of shared and private hangars
- Whether you own the aircraft for business or personal use
- The weather in your area
When considering these and any other factors to assess your options, you should rank them in importance. For example, finding a hangar that is close to your location may be your top priority, if you are willing to store your aircraft in either a shared or private hangar.
Working through your “hangar selection checklist” will ensure that you are well-informed and give you clarity as you make this important decision.
Aircraft Hangar Options
Depending on your location, you may have many options for hangaring your aircraft. Some of the more common methods for storing an airplane are:
Not technically “hangaring,” this may be a good option in areas where the risk of weather damage is low. Tying down an aircraft that is stored outside reduces the risk of damage from strong winds that could cause damage to the plane. The cost of a tie-down is usually significantly lower than hangaring. However, you should keep in mind that aircraft exposed to the elements will likely experience more wear and tear and require more maintenance and repairs than those stored indoors.
Many airports have hangars that can store multiple aircraft. While the cost of using a shared hangar tends to be relatively low, it can be affected by local demand. In some instances, the storage provider includes services like maintenance as part of the contract, which can add to the value of this option.
Hangars are not without their drawbacks, of course. Providers typically want to maximize the revenue from their hangar space. To do that, they maneuver as many aircraft into the structure as possible and then have to move planes around when a pilot needs access. This frequent shuffling of parking spots increases the risk of what is commonly called “hangar rash.” Minor damage that occurs when planes are moved can affect the aesthetics of a plane, which may be an issue for aircraft used for business purposes or when an owner looks to sell their airplane. Plus, there is the risk of more significant damage and repair costs.
Private Rented Hangar
Renting a hangar where only your aircraft will be stored provides maximum protection with minimal risk of hangar rash. Of course, that protection comes at a price. Individual hangaring is the most costly form of plane storage. What’s more, it can be challenging to find private hangars for rent in some areas. However, if your top priority is protecting your aircraft investment, an individual hangar may be the way to go.
Some aircraft owners choose to live in neighborhoods that have access to an airfield and in which they are allowed to have their own hangar attached to their home. This is not an option that is commonly available, but if it is for you, it can be a convenient way to protect your aircraft and one that is cost-effective once the structure is built and paid for.
Building Your Own Aircraft Hangar
Whether at their home or on property elsewhere, some aircraft owners or operators choose to build their own hangars. If you decide to take that approach, the first step is to determine what type of hangar makes the most sense for you. Hangars cover the spectrum from small, simple structures owned by individuals to large, spacious storage facilities built by commercial operators.
Some of the more common hangar designs include:
- Shade structures. Essentially a roof supported by sturdy beams, these structures provide basic protection from sun damage, hail, etc. They are cost-effective and a good option for people who use their planes frequently and live in areas with mild weather.
- T hangars. Shaped like the letter “T” and designed with just enough room to accommodate a plane, these no-frills hangars provide full protection from the elements. They do not, however, provide much if any room for accessing the plane to perform maintenance or repairs.
- Simple storage hangars. A step up from T hangars, storage hangars have enough room to accommodate aircraft plus the parts and materials needed for their upkeep.
- Maintenance hangars. These hangars have ample room for maneuvering aircraft and performing maintenance on them. They are the largest and most expensive structures to build and maintain, but they allow operators to store, move and work on aircraft efficiently.
Whatever your needs are, there is a hangar style to accommodate them.
Insurance and Safety Considerations
In addition to protecting the aesthetic and operational characteristics of your aircraft, not to mention its value, hangaring the airplane may lower the cost of insuring it. How, where and when you store your aircraft affects the risk of it being damaged. If you protect it individually in a secure, indoor hangar, it is less likely to suffer damage and therefore your aircraft insurance may cost less.
As a result, you should talk with your aircraft insurance producer before you decide how to store your aircraft. It is possible that the cost of hangaring your airplane may be offset somewhat by insurance savings as well as lower maintenance costs.
You should also think about whether you want to store your aircraft in a facility that has added safety measures in place. For example, some hangars are equipped with hangar foam fire suppression systems, which have pros and cons you will want to consider.
Are you looking into renting hangar space or building your own hangar? If you are and you have questions, we are happy to answer them. Likewise, if you want to know more about our services in general, please contact us at your convenience.
We started writing about foam fire suppression events several years ago when we noticed trends relating to inadvertent foam fire suppression system activations affecting our clients. These false activations caused substantial aircraft damage at the outset. In the aftermath, they fostered highly disrupted hangar and flight operations for many private and charter aircraft operators as well as FBO and MRO businesses.
When people think of aircraft insurance, what typically comes to mind is cover for accidents, hard landings and the like. In fact, most “technical” pricing of aircraft insurance uses only operational statistics and basic exposure data points (aircraft values, passenger numbers, etc.) to determine equitable premiums.