Today’s varied aircraft market leaves buyers with a dizzying number of options. Each make and model has different performance specifications, characteristics, and price. Buying the right aircraft can mean the difference between useful, long-term transportation and a veritable dust collector. Therefore, it is pivotal to complete a successful, pre-purchase inspection. Below, we explore why pre-purchase inspections are an essential step in aircraft acquisition.
Aircraft Acquisition: Top Questions to Ask
Before buying any aircraft, it is important to know as much about the make, model, and condition as possible. To best gauge the aircraft’s value for purchase, consider these reflection questions below:
- Is now the right time to buy an aircraft?
- What are all my available aircraft options?
- Is the pricing for this specific aircraft appropriate?
If you still feel confident in this purchase, it is best to make sure you know the most current information concerning the aircraft’s condition and completed maintenance tasks. Ask the seller the following:
- Who performed the last annual inspection?
- Who performed the overhaul, and are they reputable?
- Are all A.D.’s complied with?
- Is there a damage history on the aircraft?
- Are there any liens against the aircraft?
- What financing is available?
The Value of Pre-Purchase Inspections
Pre-purchase inspections are a pivotal component of aircraft acquisition as it determines the legitimacy and value of the transaction. The money spent on a pre-purchase inspection can be well worth the price compared to the size of your investment and the potential for loss.
Although sellers may be wary of a pre-buy inspection, buyers should undoubtedly insist on one to avoid unexpected expenses later. With the full reports, the buyer then has the liberty to decide whether to require the current owners and make any repairs before taking the final delivery of the aircraft. After the close of a transaction, buyers are unlikely to convince previous owners to pay for repairs.
Who Performs It?
It is crucial to request your pre-purchase inspection from an unbiased yet trustworthy mechanic. As a cardinal rule, do not have the pre-purchase inspection conducted by the mechanic who currently or previously maintained the aircraft. There is no incentive for the current mechanic to point out problems with their existing customer’s aircraft.
Have the inspection done at a neutral facility by a trusted inspector who is interested in protecting you. Additionally, find a mechanic familiar with the make and model of the aircraft up for consideration. Doing so will help generate a more thorough inspection that will catch more potential pitfalls.
What Does a Pre-Purchase Inspection Include?
Although the buyer can request a simple or comprehensive pre-purchase inspection, we recommend completing the following steps to gather the most information before solidifying your investment.
- A complete aircraft visual inspection, nose to tail (equivalent to an annual-type inspection).
- A borescope inspection of each engine followed by a disassembly if any questionable findings need to be verified.
- Logbook chronology search: all records are in possession from birth to current.
- A complete logbook verification for each inspection required by the inspection program recommended by the manufacturers of the aircraft, engines, propellers, and appliances.
- Logbook verification for airworthiness limitations, recommended overhauls and replacements of components, and parts of the aircraft.
- A complete logbook verification for all FAA Airworthiness Directives, including appliance ADs, applicable to the aircraft.
- Paint and interior verification of all burn certifications for interior components replaced since the aircraft was new. All flight controls removed and balanced following paint, and all interior and exterior placards installed as required by the type certificate data sheet for the aircraft.
- Complete logbook verification to find any possible damage to the aircraft that could affect the value (gear up landing, corrosion repair, major skin damage repair, etc.) as well as proper documentation (FAA form 337), including instruction for continued airworthiness, for every major change to type design (major alteration) or major repair.
What Happens if the Aircraft Fails the Pre-Purchase Inspection?
Our ultimate desire is for all aircraft acquisitions to be a seamless transaction in which the aircraft passes the pre-purchase inspection without any hesitation. However, in the event the mechanic reports a failing inspection of either the aircraft’s condition or documentation, you might be wondering what is next.
Simply put, it is better and safer to restart the aircraft acquisition process by searching for other alternatives. If an aircraft looks great from nose to tail but you discover that it has untrustworthy documentation, it may not be worth the investment only to later discover you are breaking compliance and facing severe fines. As a final rule of judgment, investigate any issues to determine if there lies an easy fix or if your time and resources are best spent elsewhere.
Aircraft Acquisition Services at J.A. Air
When looking through the numerous aircraft for sale in the marketplace, wouldn’t it be nice to know the cost to install the latest and greatest avionics equipment, or what ADSB equipment is most compatible with the aircraft you are looking at? What about what it would take to replace the carpet and do sidewalls? How do you know if the wing bolts really need replacing? From single-engine piston aircraft to small jets, the value of having an experienced and qualified staff is important. With J.A. Air, we become your partner in the process. Our team is knowledgeable, licensed, and factory-trained.
Contact us today for any of your aircraft acquisition and inspection needs, questions, or if you are looking to have a new avionics system installed. We are excited to work with you and get your plane ready to fly the skies in no time!