View Full Version : Operating a DC3 - Some Questions

2nd Mar 2003, 22:45

I'm building a business case to offer European Tours in a DC3 as part of a Business degree course - the idea is that it'd be a sort of "Orient Express of the air". I'm trying to build the cost model for operations and choose some European airfields but have struggled to find out the following information. Any advice would be much appreciated:

Q1. How long a runway does the (typical) DC3 need? I'm assuming grass will be OK.
Q2. Any idea of the hourly running costs? I can't find any information on maintenance schedules or tasks but I need some numbers to build the financial model.
Q3. Are there any people in the UK (individuals, organisations or companies) I should be contacting to find out all this stuff?

I've spotted G-DAKK for sale for 150k (http://www.eurofly.co.uk/dakotasale/dakkprice.htm) so this is what I'm going to build my model on.

Any advice on any of the above would be much appreciated. You never know, if the business plan stacks up, I might be asking for pilots soon!

Piece of Cake
3rd Mar 2003, 02:50
The best people to ask would be Air Atlantique/Atlantic Airlines at Coventry who operate Daks in the reconnaissance role and I think they have one configured for pax as well.

For info their phone number is 024 7676 2222.

You must also consider the costs of getting an up and running AOC, liability insurance, Eurocontrol Nav Charges etc. etc.

Sadly the number of grass runways (licenced ones anyway) are on the decline.

I'm sure you must have heard the saying if you want to make a small fortune in aviation then start with a large one!

Rgds PoC

3rd Mar 2003, 05:41
If you figure your direct operating costs for the DC3 (pilots,fuel,oil, maintenance, maintenance reserves) then the figure will approach $800/hr. Note, USA prices.
Note that insurance, landing fees etc have been left out of the estimate. Also does not include a hangar, which you may want....changing a cylinder in the rain ain't fun.

3rd Mar 2003, 15:22
I saw an Air Atlantique Dak take off from Middle Wallop at an air display about 10 years ago. It was quite a sight on that undulating ground.

Census boy
4th Mar 2003, 14:00
If anyone is interested both Dakotas are sitting at the end of now defunct runway 35 at Lee-on-the-Solent airfield waiting for buyers!!. 150,000 and 75,000 are the asking prices now.

4th Mar 2003, 17:11
Not exactly your side of the ocean (in most cases), but I found about 560 DC-3s of various versions on the US FAA registry:

A few were said to be in places like Malta.

6th Mar 2003, 11:45
Then don't forget the interior fitout. If you are going for an "Orient Express" interior then you can look at budgeting for new seat covers and carpets. The seat covers are going to cost you 150 each due to the small quantity and the carpet will be 50 per metre for anything worth looking at.

Assume interior cleaning and catering , dry cleaning covers etc and that will add a few grand a year to your estimate as well.

Iron City
6th Mar 2003, 16:46
But it would be less expensive and possibly attract more people (of a certain type at least) if you just painted it OD and used canvas bucket seats, the only food service collecting the "outgoing", and called it a C-47 (or R4D if you prefer).

In US last operators I saw were Provincetown Boston (out of business about 15 years ago) and Shawnee Airways in Orlando (not MCO, Herndon). There also used to be a Ford Trimotor operation from Sandusky Ohio.

Bet the insuranace, permits and associated mickey mouse will make it cost prohibative.

johnny canuck
9th Mar 2003, 21:26
Check out Buffalo Air in Yellowknife NWT, Canada. There totaly stuck in the 1940's.


9th Mar 2003, 23:57
I have landed a Dak at Sand Strips marked out by tyres in the Rub al Khali with absolutely no probs at all. We had to depart DHA very very very early so as to get there and depart before the heat built up though, so as to get off the strip with a decent payload. I would ask the previous operators of G-DAKK about the cost of European Charter and Pleasure Flights. They operated it for a while, and eventually, sadly, went bust, and it slid out of Bournemouth and landed at Popham, to escape the bailiffs. Popham is not by anystretch of the imagination, Heathrow. But it is grass and friendly.
It's arrival at Popham coincided with the Annual Garden Party of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators. Impressed the hell out of their Airships.!!

11th Mar 2003, 13:01
Thanks for all the above.....

Any idea what sort of landing fees I'd be looking at in Europe? We be operating as a Commercial airline and so I guess we be charged a bit more than a private plane.

We'd be a DC-3 + 18 passengers landing at the smaller airfields, I reckon they'd be looking for a fixed rate + per passenger. Should I be budgetting for a few tens of or a few hundred?

Any web sites which list fees for airfields?

Oh, and another thing.... where can I find DC-3 pilots in the UK?

11th Mar 2003, 15:12
You know you should look at this Swiss company and possibly talk to them:


They do roughly what you're proposing, but with Junkers 52s.


11th Mar 2003, 15:59
Think there's also a DC-3 operation in Switzerland...

For DC-3 pilots, try Air Atlantique at Coventry... also Aces High at North Weald.

This is just a theoretical exercise, right?

Friend of mine did something similar for an Airline Management course or some such a few years ago... he got a bit into it and I drafted up some colour schemes on a Jetstream 31, SD-360 and Dash 8 as he contemplated his fleet requirements, and then mocked up headed paper and a nice front cover for his submission! He settled for the Jetstream. Looked quite nice!

He recently remarked to me that, had it been for real, he'd probably have a fleet of 737s by now! That, or be part of the structure of a motorway bridge...

12th Mar 2003, 04:55
If you check on <http://www.douglasdc3.com/dc3cost/dc3cost.htm>
I think you will find most if not all of the details you seek.

13th Mar 2003, 11:19
If you really are serious, as a number of people have already mentioned contact Air Atlantique.

E-mail [email protected] .co.uk

Or phone Ceri Still 02476 882611

I am begining to doubt the validity of this enquiry as to the best of my knowlege you have not spoken to them. They have already been approached by others with this same question interested in the same airframe. Its a small market and there is not much to be gained by the clandestine approach.


Cyclic Hotline
13th Mar 2003, 15:26
ERA Aviation in Anchorage offers flightseeing trips in 2 rather beautiful DC-3's.

Check them out here (http://www.era-aviation.com/fs_DC3_Tours.stm).

I was involved in operating one some years ago. It was a beautiful machine (had a fortune invested in it) but was very unreliable, principally because it was seldom used and got upset after being cranked up every few months after all that idle time. Like so many good aircraft they thrive on being used all the time, and definately enjoy a good reputation for reliability.

Until a couple of years ago, Air North was regularly operating passenger service with them, until they replaced them with the traditional DC-3 replacement, HS 748's! :) The march of time and progress may be a little slower outside the centre's of civilisation!

If you ever get a chance to check out a DC-3 on ski's, don't miss that opportunity. ;)

Still have to go and check them out every time I see one though. Great aircraft.

22nd Mar 2003, 03:25
You might want to check out http://www.douglasdc3.com/
They have a section on operating costs that might prove useful. The sound effects as you enter the site is worth the visit.

22nd Mar 2003, 18:06
Hurn 1963 G-APBC


CP & BOAC. Is this Ok ??

Mr G.

23rd Mar 2003, 15:18