Laddering Up: The Best Way to Avoid Being Turned Down

Student pilots looking to buy an aircraft should match the airplane with their skill level to increase their chances of getting a loan.
AOPA Finance

If you’re a student pilot looking to finance an aircraft in which to complete your training,

it would be worthwhile to take a moment to understand the lender’s perspective. This will help you become better aware of some of the obstacles you may need to overcome.


Lenders are accustomed to pilots buying an aircraft in which they have little or no experience, so a step up into something new to you is not the biggest hurdle. Lenders tend to focus on the various financial obligations associated with aircraft ownership, and this is especially true when considering a student pilot for an aircraft loan. When someone is new to aircraft ownership, lenders will look closely at the applicant’s financial picture. Not only in terms of the monthly payment, but also taking into consideration the costs of completing pilot training, operating the aircraft, storing the aircraft, and building a maintenance and repair reserve. 


Aircraft insurance is another cost that is required when financing an aircraft. Insurance can be quite expensive depending on the type of aircraft, purchase price, and the time in type for the pilot.  It’s best to check on the availability and costs of insurance early in the process and build that cost into your budget. It is not uncommon for insurance to be the deciding factor between different aircraft models. As mentioned above, it’s not uncommon for lenders to finance an aircraft in which the pilot has little to no time. For student pilots, both lenders and insurers may be concerned if the target aircraft appears to be more than a student can handle. This could mean that the aircraft appears to be too complex for the average student pilot, or too expensive to purchase and operate for someone with no aircraft ownership experience. Some pilots want to make their first aircraft purchase their one and only aircraft purchase. While this may work for some, it doesn’t work for everyone. Similar to other types of purchases, it often makes more sense to “ladder up” as you progress in your aviation journey. For example, your first purchase may be something like a Cherokee 140 – something relatively inexpensive to own, operate, and insure. Once you have built up some time or are ready for your next rating, you may want to move to something like a Cessna 182. As your proficiency increases and your needs change, you may move on to an A36 Bonanza, and then up to a Piper Mirage, and so forth.


Lenders typically aren’t interested in dictating what you can and cannot purchase if you meet the credit, income, and liquidity requirements. However, if you're a student pilot buying your first aircraft, they do have an expectation that your first purchase will be something relatively simple. After all, nobody buys a Ferrari while still on a learner’s permit.


Do you have a question about aircraft financing? Our team has the answer for you! Submit your questions here. Great terms. Helpful and responsive reps. Those are the reasons to turn to AOPA Aviation Finance when buying an airplane. If you need a dependable financing source with people on your side, call 800.62.PLANE (75263) or click here to request a quote.

AOPA Finance Team
Knowledgeable and friendly aircraft finance professionals you can trust to find the best terms for your financing needs. Our goal is to make aircraft ownership more affordable and accessible to pilots.
Topics: AOPA Aviation Finance Co, Financing

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