Aircraft: On a Wing and a Share

<< Back to Robb Report, November 2003
  • Mary Grady

From his home in Newport Beach, California, it takes Drew Warmington 10 hours to drive to Lake Tahoe. He recently completed the trip in an hour and 40 minutes—traveling at an average speed of 200 mph. Warmington, who operates a financial services company, owns a fractional share of a $289,400 Cirrus SR22, a piston-powered single-engine plane with a 1,000-mile range. In January, he purchased the share from OurPlane, a Canadian company that offers fractional ownership of planes such as the SR22, Cessna Stationair, and Piper Archer III to private pilots. “The airplane is unbelievable to fly,” says Warmington, who uses the plane for regional pleasure flights. “Before, I’d rent an old Cessna 172 that was older than I am, dirty, and badly equipped. Now, it’s as if you’d been driving an old Pacer and you’re handed the keys to a new Mercedes.”

Based in London, Ontario, OurPlane was founded four years ago by CEO Graham Casson. The company operates from six locations in the United States and three in Canada and plans to have an 18-plane fleet by the end of this year, 32 planes by the end of 2004, and 100 aircraft—including Cirrus, Raytheon/Beechcraft, and Cessna models—within three years. “Most of our pilots are successful business owners or professionals who use the aircraft for lifestyle-enhancing travel, whether for business meetings or personal use,” says Gary Kirke, an OurPlane sales associate.

Share prices range from $32,900 to $57,900 depending on the number of annual flight hours. A prospective SR22 pilot must possess an instrument rating and at least 500 flight hours. He or she is expected to have a clean accident record and is required to complete a six-hour ground school and pass an annual flight test before claiming the keys to a plane.

Other companies are entering the field. AirShares Elite of Atlanta offers shares in Cirrus SR22s, while SharePlus of San Jose, Calif., sells shares in several Cessnas and one SR22. “Most pilots who fly for business log only about 50 hours a year,” says Casson. “That’s not enough to justify the costs of owning an airplane. Fractional ownership makes good economic sense.”

Clients can reserve specific flight hours in their planes by phone or online, and they must return their aircraft to the airport of origin. OurPlane does not guarantee 100 per­cent availability, but that fact has little effect on Warmington’s enjoyment of his aircraft. “The downside is that, yes, occasionally the airplane might not be available at the exact time you want it,” he says. “But that’s more than made up for by not having the headaches and responsibility of maintaining and managing an airplane on my own.”

Perhaps the most significant shortcoming of the program is its lack of operating bases. Casson says four more sites are under development, but currently OurPlane’s American locations include only San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego on the West Coast; Oxford, Conn., and White Plains, N.Y., on the East Coast; and Houston. The program has drawn rave reviews from pilots, such as Warmington, who live near these sites. “It’s a great program and a great aircraft,” he says. “I’d do it again.”
 
OurPlane, 877.RPLANE.1, www.ourplane.com

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