Aviation for Sale: 6 Questions You Should Ask Before Buying a Plane

By Jason Zilberbrand

September 15, 2020 Appraisals

There is a long list of advantages to owning your airplane. Some are easily quantifiable, like how much faster it is to travel to certain places or the fact that private planes are safer than traveling by car.

Other advantages of owning a private plane are harder to describe. The incredible experience of flight and of taking the pilot's controls. The visits you can make to friends and the people you can take with you on your flights.

More and more people are looking into items in aviation for sale. That means there's more and more need for people to learn about how to judge an airplane's value and quality. You can find helpful FAQs to assist with your needs.

Read on to learn some of the big questions you'll need to find answers to before buying your first airplane!

1. What Kind of Used Airplane Matches Your Operational Experience?

One of the main reasons people buy their plane is so that they can enjoy the beauty of personally piloting the aircraft. Purchasing an aircraft, especially your first one, is exciting, scary, and emotionally exhausting at times. Research rarely ever comes to an end, and you will find yourself confused with several varying opinions on what to buy and when to buy it.

Buying an aircraft beyond your expertise is probably a bad idea, but you should have some time under your belt before deciding what aircraft to purchase. Most new pilots dont truly understand what they desire from an aircraft in terms of performance until they spend some time flying. Where you go and with whom will be a significant factor in picking the right plane.

When you do decide on the right aircraft, then its time to start looking for the right one. That's where VREF will help you. NOt only will VREF appraise your aircraft and assist in reviewing the records, logbooks, and historical data, but we can also help you pick the right plane too.

2. What Kind of Performance Are You Going to Need Out of Your Airplane?

What exactly do you intend to do with the airplane? Are you going to fly for personal use, or are you going to use it as an extremely efficient form of transportation? Will you be expecting others to fly it, or will you be the only pilot?

Operations and who will be flying is one of the most critical decisions before making a purchase. However, it's also one that people tend to ignore. Instead of having a detailed and precise list of necessary performance specs in their prospective aircraft, they have only a vague sense of what their plane will need to be able to do. Some potential buyers are already committed to a purchase and have not come to a conclusion the aircraft they have a deposit on won't allow their wife or kids to join them, much less their bicycle and hunting gear.

You want a plane that satisfies most of your flights!

3. Are the Insurance Costs for This Model Airplane Unusual?

Consider your insurance requirements before you decide to buy them. Let me repeat my self, contact your insurance broker before you spend a dime, or make one phone call about buying someone's aircraft. I can not tell you how many times I have seen a buyer's dreams ripped into a million pieces because they did not know how much insurance is going to cost.

Insurance is a hot topic and one that seems to be challenging even the most seasoned operators. Ask our friends for referrals, talk to us, or ask your flight instructor, but start this process early and avoid significant disappointment.

4. What Kind of Storage Do You Need for Your Airplane?

It goes without saying; you can't merely store an airplane in your garage or your backyard; well, that's not entirely true. I have appraised several experimental aircraft that was sitting in a garage. You have two real options. You can rent space in a hangar, or you can rent space on a ramp. Naturally, if you live in an area with bad weather, you only have one option, so how do you find a hangar?

If you plan on having multiple aircraft or using your hangar to store your other toys, then it might be worth looking into getting your own. On the other hand, if you're going to stick to just one airplane, for now, it's probably more efficient to rent out a single space at an FBO.

However, knowing what you want isn't the end of the story. Even if you decide you want to rent space from a local airport, you'll have to find out if they even have room for you! The trick here is to call and visit as many places as possible. Access is essential, as is local maintenance. Finding the right hangar might be difficult in more popular airports—my best advice figures out where you need to be and start making calls.

5. Airplane Maintenance

Without the right A&P mechanic, no airplane will maintain itself, let alone be safe to operate. On the plus side, if you find your mechanic before you buy a plane, they can be an invaluable source of information on maintenance expenses.

Start by finding someone who owns a similar aircraft, or by asking for referrals in your region. YOu might not always have someone local, so maybe you should consider an engine maintenance program like PistonPower to assist in your aircraft maintenance. At the same time, they will ensure your aircraft from unscheduled events and pay for your scheduled maintenance. What's better is you get a dedicated tech support staff to troubleshoot even the most minor of repairs.

6. How Much Can You Resell This Airplane for Later?

In the majority of cases, airplane owners will eventually want to sell their planes. Maybe they want to buy a new one, or maybe its time for an upgrade. Regardless, it's essential to plan and think of the resale value of your plane.

Rely on all the experts at your disposal and try to find out which planes depreciate the least. In particular, remember that planes that emphasize short-term performance are only the right choice if you don't expect ever to resell the craft. In any event, you'll want to call VREF for all of your valuation needs; that's why the AOPA has been a partner of VREF for almost two decades.

We hope that this article has been helpful to you as you navigate finding options in the field of aircraft for sale. To learn more about how you can find expert appraisals and evaluations for your potential aircraft, check out our other pages. Remember, for your safety as well as your bank account's, buying an airplane is one of the most crucial times to go the extra mile to do your due diligence! If you need help, be sure to contact Jason Zilberbrand at Jason@Vref.com.