View Full Version : Auster - Help wanted please!!
24th Nov 2003, 06:56
Ladies and Gentlemen
Not withstanding the forum earlier (aviation history and nostalgia)regarding this venerable aircraft, may I please ask for some general advice from you experienced people?
My Dad and I, plus a friend are seriously thinking of buying a small aircraft to fly on our PPL's and our initial thaughts are that an Auster would fulfill the requirments. We are however, unsure about the general running costs of an aircraft like the Auster.
Could you please advise us of the following:
1. Approx hourly flying costs ?
2. Approx yearly insurance costs ?
3. Approx yearly maintenance costs ?
I appreciate that these will differ and vary, but any information you could supply would be very gratefully received. Also, if anyone has any good contacts about where to get an Auster from/who to contact etc. I would be most grateful. Lastly, are there many differences between the Auster variants?
Very many thanks to you all
24th Nov 2003, 08:32
I'm not an Auster owner myself but I do have to say that an Auster is not a particularly cheap aircraft to own and operate. Only a very few are on a PFA permit, most are still on a full C of A. Most use British In-line engines that have short TBOs and cost ca. £10k to overhaul. Other parts such as props and mags are in short supply and can be very expensive.
I've always wanted an Auster, but however I look at it I just can not justify the expense of keeping one in the air.
I do however own a 1/3 share in a Taylorcraft BC12 - Have you considered one of these? They are the original aircraft Austers were developed from. Most are on a PFA Permit and they use the cheap as chips Continental A65 Engine. They do an honest 100mph and seem to have much better ground handling than Austers. Operating costs are are simular to a J3 Cub or an Aeronca Champ (IE not much!) - just an idea...
The others will probably chime in with more hard data re costs as I know a few regular posters are owners - In fact, It may be worth PM ing Low'n'Slow. He has a splended Cirrus powered example and I heard murmours that he may be looking for a change..
24th Nov 2003, 15:21
Go and fly one first, you'll then know why they are not so expensive to buy as say a Cub.
The groundhandling is amongst the worst tailwheel aircraft, and the performance marginal with two normal adults.
Running costs are above average due to the engines.
You can do better than that.
PS: And before you start, I actually do fly a British built tailwheel myself.
24th Nov 2003, 16:15
Good old misty eyed British Classic the Auster.
Thats it really......
Costs are clearly the major (no pun intended) factor for you GD so you can forget the Auster.
Take a look at the Rollason Condor for a good, Honest, cheap as chips taildragger. Sweet handling, dead easy to fly.
I operate 2 Gipsy engines and until recently ran a Blackburn Cirrus Major as well so I know what these donks can cost to maintain and operate.
If you are stuck on an Auster, the worst scenario is a huge group buying a tired old dog and trying to run it on a shoestring.
Borrow the money (money is cheap these days) and buy a goodun'.
THe bank interest you will pay will be far less than the repair bills.
A syndicate of 4 is, in my view, the perfect number. Any more and you start to lose 'ownership.'
24th Nov 2003, 16:56
Unsurprisingly I leap to the defence of the underrated Auster!
Hourly costs - around £25 for fuel and oil
Fully comprehensive insurance - £750 / year
Annual maintenance - about £1,000 including the Annual Inspection
Flyin Dutch I don't think the ground handling is any worse than any other aircraft with a shopping trolley tailwheel (unsteerable and fully castering). It did tend to wear out the brakes until I fitted a steerable tailwheel though. Now I prefer the ground handling to that of the L4 I used to have mainly cos the brakes are better.
I've got a Cirrus Minor engined J1 Autocrat that trundles along at around 90 mph burning 4 gallons / hour. It has enough grunt to get two fairly chunky chaps and fuel out of a 550m strip quite comfortably. It is cheap to run but as kingy says, they cost an arm and a leg to rebuild. However, like all engines on a Private C of A, they can be run indefinately as long as the compressions are good and there is no evidence of bearing metal in the oil filter.
Regarding the PFA / C of A thing, as long as you don't want to modify the aircraft there is not a lot of difference in the cost of running it. If you don't do your own maintenance the difference is tiny. A lot of people don't realise that they can do the maintenance on a C of A aircraft themselves under the supervision of a licensed engineer.
To sum up, I prefer the over engineered Auster to the L4 Cub. If the engine does eventually die on me in a spectacular fashion I'll probably go down the same road as Oscar Deuce and fit a Lycoming 0-320 150 hp engine. These can be obtained reasonably cheaply, the mod is a well known conversion and it makes the old Auster climb like a scalded cat!!
PS Drop me a PM as I might be persuaded to sell my Auster cos my hangerage charges have become extortionate.
24th Nov 2003, 17:24
Ah The Classic British Auster.
I guess you must have your own reasons for looking at one. They are halve the price of a super cub, seat more than two and are side by side seating.
As has been said, the British in line, 100 hp Cirrus Minor (J1 Autocrat) or the 135 hp Gipsy Major (J1N, Terrier, AOP 6 ect.) can be the weak point compared to an american engined aircraft. But certainly not stumbling block.
There are some Lycoming powered ones, but not as many. These range from the 135 hp 0-290 powered war era Mk5's to the later Beagle like the 180 hp Husky (but these are rare and supercub money). There are three J1's with 160 hp Lycomings retrofitted, plus my one (the only one on a pfa permit), but you won't prise these away from anyone.
So for costs you can by a 100 hp autocraft or a 135 hp Terrier (or AOP 6, with the extra lift devices) for about £ 15/16 K.
If you like the idea of a AOP 6, in military colours. I think Chris Harrison, near Oxford is still seling one for reasonable money. PM me for his details if you want.
24th Nov 2003, 18:38
Oscar Duece and Low and Slow… I’ve PM’d you both!
Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply to my post… It’s most appreciated! Keep the advice flowing!
25th Nov 2003, 17:29
You should join the International Auster Club if you are interested -- it is excellent. Next you need to see and fly in a variety of Austers. They're an enthusiast's aircraft. If you're prepared and capable to do a lot of the work yourself then they can be a reasonable proposition. If you're looking at an engineering shop doing it, then beware.
If you're ever down Eggesford way, let me know and I'll get you shown round and taken up. We have well over a dozen Austers based here of all shapes and sizes and all engines and some of the stalwarts of the Auster Club. One of our leading lights here has over 2500 hours in Austers and has rebuilt many of them. He likes Austers partly because he still finds them a challenge to fly and handle on the ground -- there's a message in that! We currently have several in rebuild here.
I looked at an Auster and ended up with a cub because I am a hamfisted, time-poor klutz who likes flying not tinkering and that was even despite knowing that I would base it at the centre of the Auster known universe.
25th Nov 2003, 18:46
Kingy, I have sent a PM to you...
26th Nov 2003, 21:18
We have an Auster at Mona powered by a Lycoming O-320. So you don't need to use the inline btitish engines. But Lycomings are expensive too. How much do you want this?