Do have a pre-buy inspection. It could save you thousands of dollars over time. People passionate about airplanes find it easy to fall in love quickly with a particular airplane. What’s more, if we don’t act quickly and say „yes“ to the buyer, then the one-and-only airplane for us will be sold to someone else. Slow down and be smart. First, have a pre-buy inspection.
Even if the airplane belongs to your best friend, and even if the airplane you want to buy is one that you have flown before, you need to know more about the total health of the airplane. A pre-buy inspection will reveal issues such as corrosion that would not readily be visible. That’s why the best advice I can give any airplane buyer is to have a licensed A&P perform an independent, non-biased inspection of the airplane.
And now for a “don’t.” Don’t choose the existing mechanic or shop of your potential new airplane. Use another shop that has no ties to the airplane. Sure, it’s convenient to have the local shop at the airport where the airplane is based perform the inspection. It’s probably cheaper, too. However, the shop working on the airplane may be too quick to praise its work and tell you the airplane is in great shape. Even if you have to pay to have the airplane flown to another local airport, it’s a good investment. You want a mechanic who has no attachment to the airplane to give a thorough inspection using a fresh set of eyes.
Here are a few “dos” for selecting the right mechanic or shop. Use the shop you intend to have maintained the aircraft once it’s yours unless that shop is the one that’s been doing the service. Choose a shop that specializes in the type of aircraft you’re purchasing and frequently works on an airplane like the one you’re thinking about buying. For help selecting a shop, check out the online owner’s forums. These forums have a wealth of information for potential owners of a particular type, including which shops are the best.
Don’t rush the process. Slow down and take your time. Make sure you give yourself enough time for the pre-buy inspection and that you are not rushed as the proposed closing date approaches. Typically a pre-buy inspection takes one or two days—but we know how that works. Build in some extra time, so you don’t feel pressure.
Do use your best judgment when analyzing the results of the pre-buy inspection. Realize that there’s no such thing as a perfect airplane; you must know what you are willing to accept and what you won’t. Unlike buying a house when the buyer can often pressure the seller into paying for repairs as a condition of the sale, that’s typically not the case with airplanes unless it’s an airworthiness issue. Be reasonable with the seller and remember that perfect doesn’t exist. Have the mechanic spell out the differences between airworthiness directive (AD) items and non-AD items. Have the mechanic explain the items with high importance and urgency to fix and those that may be “nice to fix.”
As a side note, if you purchase an airplane with minimal use by its current owner, do expect that the pre-buy inspection may uncover many items that will take time and money to fix. Give yourself enough time to remedy these items. Also, aircraft that have sat for some time may often have squawks not immediately apparent or uncovered during the pre-buy.
And, finally, be willing to walk away from an airplane. That’s the toughest piece of advice to give. There may come a tipping point in your mind when the work necessary to bring the airplane legally to standard and personally to your standards becomes too high. Remember that at any given time, there are thousands of airplanes for sale. Just like the adage, “Marry in haste, repent in leisure,” you can buy an airplane in haste and repent in leisure as mounting mechanical bills makes flying inaccessible.
Great rates. Great terms. Helpful and responsive reps. Three good reasons to turn to AOPA Aviation Finance when buying an airplane. If you need a dependable financing source with people on your side, call 800.62.PLANE (75263) or click here to request a quote. Have a specific aviation finance question you would like to see in future articles? Submit it here, which may be highlighted in an upcoming content piece. Source: ‚Adam Meredith on the Website of AOPA USA‚.
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