Planning On Buying A Used Aircraft? Things To Keep In Mind.

One of the most obvious advantages of buying a used aircraft is the significantly lower price compared to its brand new counterpart. However, another lesser-known benefit is that a well-maintained used plane has a proven track record (FYI, factory-fresh planes are not always more reliable than well-maintained pre-owned ones).


What is the most important thing when buying a used aircraft?

Always perform an in-depth pre-purchase inspection because it reveals potential flaws that may cause thousands of dollars to repair. Also, knowing the “real” condition of the aircraft allows you to renegotiate its price, taking into account the repair and replacement costs you need to spend. 


Another thing to keep in mind is the “time between overhaul” or TBO. In general, the more hours the aircraft has been flown, the more money you need to spend on the engine in your first 200 hours of ownership. 


Other things you have to scrutinize:

  • Engine and airframe logbooks
  • Airworthiness Certificate 
  • Weight and balance data
  • FAA-approved aircraft flight manual/owner’s handbook
  • Placards
  • Aircraft equipment list


What are the factors affecting the price of a used plane?

To help you with your buying journey, Knisley Welding, a company that repairs and manufactures PMA- FAA-approved aircraft exhaust systems, shares the factors that affect the resale value of a plane. 


Engine hours.

The closer an engine is to its recommended TBO, the lower its value. Also, make sure that the aircraft has a good maintenance program that ensures its components are in good condition. 


Airworthiness Directives.

This FAA-issued document tells aircraft owners to correct an unsafe condition. Check the reasons for ADs and determine if they are a recurring issue or just a one-time problem. Visit the FAA website to learn more about this issue. 


Add-on equipment.

AC units, deicing gear, leather seats and other upgrades can double the value of some used aircraft. 


Exterior and interior conditions.

Scrutinize the paint to ensure it’s not used to hide corrosion under the surface. Also, check the interior items to make sure they are in good condition. 


Damage history.

A damage history, especially relating to accidents involving major components, negatively affects any aircraft’s resale value. So if you’re considering buying a used plane with a not-so-stellar history, make sure that it has been properly fixed in accordance with FAA regulations and other best practices.


Pro tip: 

You may want to rent the type of aircraft you’re interested in before you buy your own. The idea here is to determine if it meets your requirements and you’re not just falling into the trap of buying features you won’t need. 


If renting is not an option, at least try to ask the teller if you can fly the aircraft. In this way, you can check if all the equipment and systems are functioning properly.


What kind of insurance do you need?

An experienced aviation underwriter can help you determine the coverage you need, preventing you from falling into the trap of under- or over-insuring. When shopping for a provider, consider not just the premium cost but also their reputation and financial stability. 


Also, consider having title insurance, which is just a small fee that can protect you from claims against a plane’s title. 


Other financial- and legal-related tips:

  • Make sure the aircraft you’re buying doesn’t have a lien; you can do this by searching its title. 
  • All the terms and conditions must be included in the sales contract. To avoid legal issues in the future, work with a lawyer when drafting this document. 
  • Determine which tax applies to your purchase. 
  • Some states require that you register your aircraft, which is a process that comes with fees and taxes. 
  • To finalize the purchase, have the seller execute a bill of sale with their name signed. 
  • Do not allow any party to submit ownership documents involving your interest in the plane. 


Additional tips you need to know

You need to hire a reputable mechanic who can conduct a thorough inspection and provide you with a written report about the aircraft’s condition. A professional inspector can also help you review the logbooks and other records such as the FAA Form 337, aircraft/component serial numbers, AD compliance, etc. 


Because planes come in all shapes and sizes, make sure that you select a mechanic who is well experienced and familiar with the type of aircraft you’re interested in buying. 


And last but not least important is to consider your aircraft’s spare parts. If the replacement parts are difficult to get or cause a lot of money to outsource, you may end up grounding your plane. Fortunately, Knisley Welding designs and manufactures custom exhaust systems that meet the PMA and FAA standards. 


To learn more about exhaust system spare parts and repair services, please leave us a message here