Buying an airplane or a helicopter? Here are 20 questions you should ask yourself.
The details in buying an airplane or a helicopter involve a very complicated and time-consuming process and many questions arise at different points on your path to purchase.
- Do you know the performance specs, characteristics and operating costs of a broad range of aircraft that could suit your need and budget?
- Are you aware of the sometimes subtle and significant changes airframe and engine manufacturers make to their product line across various models through progressive model years and serial numbers and their effect on sales price and resale value?
Are you familiar with aircraft available on a worldwide basis and can you evaluate which of those aircraft/helicopters to avoid due to questionable maintenance and other factors?
- If you currently own an airplane/helicopter will you be better off selling it yourself using the airplane/helicopter as a trade-in on a new purchase or contracting with an aircraft sales company to dispose of it for you in a simultaneous purchase/transfer?
- Have you considered the alternatives between a turn-key, ready-to-go airplane vs. an airplane with mid-time or run-out components and the cost-value advantages or disadvantages of each situation?
- Do you know about refurbishment and maintenance options, cost and how to evaluate price vs. value between competing interior, paint and maintenance facilities?
- Do you know the real difference between competing aircraft dealers and aircraft brokers vs. “part-timers” and their motivation in effecting a sale?
- Have you checked and confirmed the substance and references of the aircraft dealer or broker you have decided to do business with?
- Do you know how to determine if you are really negotiating with the owner of what you are really interested in or are you unknowingly working through one or more middlemen?
- Are you prepared to evaluate maintenance requirements, time-life items, calendar and other recurring inspections and the current mechanical and legal airworthiness of the airplane/helicopter you are interested in?
- Are you prepared to differentiate between significant maintenance problems vs. normal wear and their effect on price, value and resale of the airplane/helicopter you may have already located?
- Have you located various sources for approved parts, modifications, paint maintenance, interior and other vendors who may be able to provide significant savings in your new airplane/helicopter operating project?
- Do you know the questions to ask, what to expect and what is expected from you in a pre-purchase inspection?
- Can you determine the limitations as well as the expertise of the organization or facility performing your pre-purchase inspection?
- Are you familiar with the variety of financing methods and sources available today, and can you decide the type of financing that will best expedite your purchase?
- Are you aware that the purchase agreement you may sign may be the single most important document among dozens or so documents sometimes required and which specific items should be included in a proper agreement?
- Are you familiar with all the closing documents and procedure?
- Can you ensure that both you and the seller have all the necessary documents at closing so the transaction will not be delayed?
- And are you familiar with the legal specifics those documents will bind to the buyer and the seller?
- Do you know how to arrange for flight training and the various customized individual, on-site training options as well as the large formal training schools?
Do you know the ins and outs of aircraft title work and how to deal with clouded titles and obtain a valid release of lien?
- Are you prepared to make the time investment to deal with the misrepresentations, nuisance calls, curiosity seekers and solicitations from “part-time” dealers and others simply trying to get a “piece of the action”? And are you aware how that effects the ultimate price you pay for the airplane / helicopter?