Top 5 High-End Piston Aircraft Purchased in 2020

In addition to our Top 4 list of aircraft financed by first time owners in 2020, part 2 of our series will look at the Top 5 aircraft financed by AOPA members in the high-end piston category.

                                                  Top 5 High-End Piston Aircraft Purchased in 2020
                                                                        1. Cirrus SR22
                                                                        2. Piper Malibu Mirage
                                                                        3. Bonanza A/G36
                                                                        4. Cessna 206 Stationair
                                                                        5. Beechcraft G58 Baron

It’s not surprising to see Cirrus aircraft at the top of this list. In only 20 years, Cirrus Aircraft has come to dominate this market from their little manufacturing plant in Duluth, Minnesota. Cirrus has built and sold over 6,100 variants of the SR22, an impressive feat.

More importantly, Cirrus Aircraft has established dozens and dozens of Cirrus Service Centers around the globe, giving potential owners the confidence to know wherever they are, there’s a service center near them with the parts they need. And because Cirrus invested heavily in the quality of their R&D and manufacturing, there’s no question of the high-quality fit and finish of any undamaged SR22 on the market. It’s a well-known entity. It’s commoditized. It’s fast. And it’s got the parachute. The parachute is not a gimmick. It’s a real thing that, as of 2019, has been documented to have saved 401 lives. The only thing the SR22 lacks is pressurization.

That’s why people who must operate at higher altitudes due to terrain or want improved performance at higher altitudes look instead to the pressurized Piper Malibu. It’s a good airplane with full fuel capacity to carry 3.5 people over 1,200 nm.

The Bonanza is the top choice for pilots where elevation is not an issue but load carrying capacity is. Most Bonanzas will carry five passengers, and a good amount of luggage, 400-600 nm. The other advantages of a Bonanza include how economical it is to operate while still being a fast aircraft. Our experience has shown for people equally smitten with the Bonanza and the SR22, the choice often comes down to useful load. While the SR22 is a very capable airplane, with the incredible safety addition of a parachute, it can only carry three passengers with limited baggage, and not as far as a Bonanza.

The Beechcraft Baron G58 does kind of the same thing that the SR22 does. Having that extra engine certainly makes pilots comfortable flying missions they might otherwise avoid. Plus, the Baron’s engines are powerful enough to maintain safe cruising altitudes during an unlikely single-engine event.

The G58 isn’t cheap. It’s comparable in acquisition cost to a Piper Meridian or a TBM, but the operating and maintenance costs are much less. Hence why we saw more Barons purchased in 2020 than we did single-engine turboprops.

The Cessna 206 Stationair remains popular with pilots wanting to carry large loads, operating out of unimproved and remote highland airfields, or who wish to operate in and out of seaplane bases.

A quick note on a float-equipped Stationair and lenders. If you’re looking for financing and your plane has floats, one thing your lender will want to know is whether the airplane has been in saltwater or freshwater only. You may run into some financial lending challenges if the airplane has had any significant time in saltwater on floats.

And so, from a lender’s perspective, all these aircraft are common and in high demand with well-known values. They’re all commodities. They also come with well-established service networks, including high parts availability and ample personnel familiar with maintaining them.

That said, the Malibu and the Baron will bear slightly more scrutiny. Lenders might be a little more cautious on the Malibu because of the pressurization. They’ll want to make sure you’ve reserved a little more for the expenses because of that. Similarly, lenders will require a higher reserve and possibly a shorter amortization period on the Baron because of added maintenance and operational costs associated with its second engine.

In terms of what we are seeing for rate and terms for these aircraft loans, we have recent examples that include a 1994 Beech A36 for $255,000 at 3.85% for 20 years, a 2018 SR22 for $715,000 at 3.74% amortized for 20 years, a 1994 Malibu Mirage for $390,000 at 3.85% for 20 years, and a 2010 Cessna 206 for $305,000 at 3.85% for 20 years.

If you are looking to upgrade to a high-end piston aircraft and would like to work with experts who can guide you through the purchasing and financing process, please give us a call. Our regional account executives are ready to help match you to one of our aircraft lenders. In our third and final edition of this series, we’ll be reviewing the most frequently financed turboprop/light jet airplanes of 2020.

Great advice. Great rates. Helpful and responsive reps you can trust. Three good reasons to turn to AOPA Aviation Finance when you are buying or refinancing an airplane. If you need a dependable source of financing with people who are on your side, just call 800.62.PLANE (800.627.5263), or click here to request a quote.

Part 1: Top 4 Aircraft Purchased by First-Time Buyers                Part 3: Top 4 Light Jet/Turbine Aircraft Purchased

Adam Meredith
Adam Meredith
President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company
Adam Meredith, the longtime president of AOPA Aviation Finance Co., died after a long battle with cancer in December 2023. He is remembered for his passion for helping fellow pilots, leading a team devoted to putting flight training and aircraft ownership within everyone’s reach.
Topics: AOPA Aviation Finance Co, AOPA Products and Services, Ownership

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