Joint ownership is the purchase or lease of a complete aircraft by a few owners, often through a partnership or limited liability corporation. This agreement allows the cost for each company to be exponentially lower than just buying their very own aircraft outright, yet still allows them to use the aircraft as needed. Think of it like an airplane time-share.
Let’s say that two people decide they want to buy a private light airplane, but neither can afford to own one individually. They decide to buy an aircraft together, and each puts up half of the money to buy the aircraft. The happy new owners have only spent half of what they needed to buy their own airplane, and they are both now able to enjoy the freedom of flight at much less of an initial expense.
Legal documentation is something that should be drafted in the event that a number of individuals or companies are considering joint ownership of an aircraft. This will ensure that if the aircraft is accidentally damaged by one partner, then the other members of the group will not need to pay for it. It also helps to prevent pitfalls with financing or the case that one owner sells the aircraft without the others’ consent or knowledge. It is important that all parties involved in the ownership of an aircraft each have their own insurance policy to cover loss or damage while the aircraft is under their control. The documentation should also allow another member to "buy in" to the group, or, if one owner would like to purchase the others’ shares in the future, he will be allowed to do so (with the other owners’ consent, of course).
Joint ownership is not only cheaper, but more efficient as well. If each member only has time to use the aircraft for a maximum of 100 flight hours per year, then for the remainder of that time, the aircraft will just sit around in the hangar. In a joint agreement, the aircraft will be used much more frequently, will have a better maintenance record, and possibly additional features that one owner wants to add with his own money.
Joint ownership is a much more affordable way for people to enjoy the thrill of flight and own their own aircraft. Many people and organizations have joint ownership of aircraft for these reasons. Organizations such as the Experimental Aviation Association can help people looking to invest in joint ownership through the location of partners or aircraft.