Before you shop around for an airplane or jet, you need to know how all 4 elements decrease aircraft value. It’s been said before that an aircraft deal that looks way too good to be true likely is, so it’s critical to do your research before making any quick decisions – especially in a hot market.

You should have an aircraft that has even the smallest amount of damage due to earth, air, fire, or water appraised by a professional appraiser. This is because a fresh coat of paint, upgraded avionics, and new upholstery cannot completely get rid of signs of elemental damage.

Knowing what’s actually going on by having a comprehensive appraisal report will make your job easier and investment safer when it’s time to buy.

Have an aircraft that needs a diminution of value appraisal? Reach out to get started.

Aircraft Depreciation & How All 4 Elements Decrease An Aircraft’s Value

Walk through all 4 major elements and their damage potential to learn more about making an informed buying or selling decision.

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Earth’s Hazards

Natural materials on Earth impact both the exterior and structure of an aircraft – especially when it comes to all-metal airframes with materials like steel and aluminum. While they are incredibly durable, they are not indestructible.

Corrosion due to the Earth’s elements can cause extensive damage to an aircraft over time. In the worst instances, corrosion can cause an aircraft to go out of service for safety reasons. And not all corrosion looks the same.

There are a few types of corrosion you should know about including…

Crevice or deposit corrosion occurs in the smallest of spaces where moisture or pollutants can build up. Lapped skin joints or rivets occasionally fall victim to corrosion.

Filiform corrosion appears in painted steel, aluminum, and magnesium surfaces that aren’t properly prepared before painting. The result is thin raised lines (worm-like) in the paint where it pulls away from its metal surface. As corrosion progresses, the metal underneath becomes increasingly exposed to the elements.

Intergranular corrosion or an intergranular attack is a particularly aggressive type of corrosion. It is sometimes seen in specific metals or alloys. As these materials heat up under treatment or high-temperature conditions between 887°F and 1,598°F, the grain boundaries of the metal are destroyed. This usually looks like inconsistency within the metal itself. However, most people do not notice intergranular corrosion until it appears to be flaking and falling off. By this point, it’s too late to correct.

Stress corrosion leaves scratches or surface marks on aircraft parts that are used most often like landing gears or engine crankshafts. In extreme cases, cracking appears on the metal itself.

Uniform surface attack is the result of chemical changes within metal when it’s exposed to oxygen for too long. Uniform surface corrosion is common in metal airframes, leaving metal looking dull, rough, or with a frosted look.

Atmospheric Conditions & Air Particles

Oxygen causes uniform surface attacks on metal surfaces. But there’s more than oxygen in the air that can damage an aircraft. Pollution and airborne particles can cause aircraft corrosion as well, especially when they contain chlorides. This includes elements like salt or saltwater droplets with electrolytes as they damage metal materials.

It’s also important to properly maintain and care for your aircraft when it’s located near saltwater like a beach or marina. Even in heavily industrial areas, partially oxidized sulfur compounds combine with moisture causing corrosion.

Fire & Heat-Related Incidents

Fire, of course, is capable of destroying an aircraft of any size. And while it can happen, it doesn’t happen as often as simple heat damage that begins during the manufacturing process. Heat damage of this type includes actions such as machining, forming, welding, or other forms of heat treatment. If damage is done due to improper heat treatments and left unnoticed, all of the residual stress can cause cracking or stress corrosion.

The sun is another major heat source that can cause extra wear and tear over time. Depending on just where your aircraft is located also factors in. If you have an aircraft in Arizona, for example, you should prepare for temperatures reaching as high as 119℉ in the summer. If a heat advisory is present, it may not be safe to fly your aircraft at all.

Water Damage

The chloride ions in saltwater make it corrosive for aircraft. However, it is also hazardous when mixed with industrial waste contamination. Harbors are susceptible to combining these factors to create the ideal conditions for corrosion. Freshwater may seem innocent, but if it contains added chlorine or fluorides, it can create the perfect corrosive environment.

Microbial corrosion is also a possibility regarding water-based aircraft damage. This includes bacteria, fungi, or molds. Each of these can develop much faster in moist conditions and when it is left untreated.

RELATED READ: The Difference Between The Diminution Of Value And The Cost To Repair An Aircraft

Aircraft Care & Preservation From The Elements

There are a few measures you can and should take to better ensure the safety of your aircraft from the elements including:

  • Safe storage
  • Timely maintenance and inspections
  • Enrollment in a maintenance program

Not every aircraft owner wants to spend more money than they must to keep and maintain a safely operating aircraft. Even so, many aircraft owners, organizations, and individuals end up joining a reliable maintenance program for insurance coverage and convenience.

Remember to shop around for a flight program that aligns with the Federal Aviation Association’s (FAA) definition of a maintenance program:

“The performance of tasks required to ensure the continuing airworthiness of an aircraft, including any one or combination of overhaul, inspection, replacement, defect rectification, and the embodiment of an alteration or repair.”

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From business aviation transactions and aircraft valuations to post-accident damage and beyond, VREF is a trusted choice for the community and aviation professionals.

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