Tips on Buying Used Aircraft

From aerial firefighting and surveillance to passenger and personal transportation, there are many reasons to purchase an aircraft. Nevertheless, purchasing an aircraft is nothing like any other acquisition you will make in your life and should not be taken lightly.

To shed some light on how to go about purchasing a used aircraft, here are some things that you should consider.

5 tips to keep in mind when buying a used aircraft

Modern aircraft are especially sophisticated machinery equipped with advanced machinery, fly-by-wire controls and state-of-the-art avionics. In short, if you have never bought a plane before, this is like no other purchase you have ever made in your life. To ensure this purchase is a solid investment and not an accident waiting to happen, here are some important things to keep in mind.

1. Don’t make your decision based on price

Prices for used airplanes can be very different even for the exact same make and model of plane. This can make it tempting to use price as a leading factor in your purchasing process, but this would be a mistake.

The value of a used airplane is based on the age of the airframe and the number of hours it has been flown. After being flown for many hours, a plane must be put through the standard D-check which involves everything being removed including seats, cabins and galleys so that skilled engineers can inspect every square inch of the frame and exterior— twice.

This is an especially costly procedure especially in older planes and quite possibly the reason the plane is being sold in the first place. So, consider that a cheaper plane may include a scathing upcoming price.

2. Check operating costs

There will be many costs involved with properly maintaining and operating a plane and this should be calculated into your plans. Smaller airplanes are costly enough, but a larger option, like a Gulfstream G450, can be as high as several million dollars a year.

Make sure you have fully researched the operating costs involved with keeping your aircraft in perfect operating conditions.

3. Ensure the aircraft is professionally appraised

You would not buy a car without getting a professional inspection performed and if you haven’t the experience a smart buyer will seek expert advice. The same goes for an airplane and this is even more important. A professional inspection will help you figure out if engines will need to be rebuilt, airframes adjusted and reveal any other potential issues.

4. Establish how the aircraft will be operated

Flying an airplane is nothing like driving a car. You will need to have a clear idea of how the airplane will be operated on a day-to-day basis. There are several ways that this can be done, but many owners find that working with a professional management company is the most ideal route to precision operations.

A good management company will ensure that only professionals of the highest caliber are permitted to maintain and operate your airplane. Most of these management companies will have hangars and a base of operations to perform this important task.

5. Are you going to charter the aircraft out?

Many new aircraft owners consider that chartering the aircraft is a good way to offset the high costs of owning and operating an aircraft. This is a good idea but not always suitable for every situation. For one, this means that hours will be added to the flight log and this can affect resale value.

In conclusion, an airplane all of your own can open up a world of opportunity for you, but it comes at a considerable cost that must be properly assessed. If not done properly, the investment will only pull more and more cash while limiting your capacity to use the airplane as intended.

Chris Greenwood
Chris Greenwood
Chris is the owner of the Greenwood Group, a Hubzone approved business, which specializes in leasing aircraft to local, state and federal government for a variety of purposes.