Prop Strikes & Aircraft Resale Values

By Jason Zilberbrand

April 22, 2022 Educational

You’re currently looking at what you think is the perfect aircraft. In some ways, it all matches up regarding pricing, operating costs, performance, make, model, and year. You even have the logbooks handy and ready to pore over. But you notice an entry that says “prop strike” as soon as you open the logbook. You pause and consider what this means for the aircraft you’ve already fallen in love with. However, if you look into it more, a prop strike may not be as damaging to value as you think.

Instead of writing off your dream aircraft, understand what a prop strike means and why it may not be a big deal. If you’re a seller, the information here can also help you determine whether a prop strike will affect your plane’s value.

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Different Ways A Propeller Strike Can Impact An Aircraft’s Value

Seeing a prop strike record in the logbooks of an aircraft you’re interested in? Or maybe you’ve experienced one yourself in the past and are now looking to sell your aircraft.

So, how much does a prop strike impact its value? The short answer is not much, but it depends.

What is A Prop Strike?

You might think that a prop strike is when the propeller blades hit something. But there’s a little more to it. Each major engine manufacturer provides specific directives on what constitutes a propeller strike and what maintenance steps are required post-strike.

As an example, Lycoming defines a prop strike as:

  • Any incident, whether or not the engine is operating, where repair of the propeller is necessary.
  • Any incident during engine operation where the propeller impacts a solid object. This incident includes propeller strikes against the ground. Although the propeller can continue to turn, damage to the engine can occur, possibly with progression to engine failure.
  • Sudden RPM drop on impact to water, tall grass, or similar yielding medium where propeller damage does not usually occur.

Always refer to your manufacturer’s recommendations if you experience or suspect a prop strike.

Prop strikes are far more dangerous in flight because they can lead to engine failure. This being said, it’s important to note that a prop strike is considered an accident or incident, but it doesn’t have to be detrimental to your aircraft’s value.

Resolve Prop Issues Before Selling Or Buying

Ultimately, you can resolve a prop strike by replacing the propeller entirely with a brand new or overhauled one. Depending on the level of damage, a new propeller will serve much better than a repaired one. It should not take away any of the value of your aircraft, and you can proceed to sell as you planned; this is assuming there was no other damage to the plane. Chances are different parts or components, even maybe the engine will be impacted, but for this article, we will assume just the prop was damaged.

However, attempting to straighten or fix your propeller and failing to maintain its record is illegal, and it’s dangerous and can cause life-threatening imbalances and other in-flight issues. Furthermore, you can be heavily fined if caught doing so.

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Why Logbooks Are Critical To Aircraft Value

Discussing prop strikes naturally requires a conversation about logbooks. An aircraft’s logbook is essential to its value. T More specifically, an aircraft logbook tracks:

  • Airframe time

  • Condition and airworthiness of the aircraft

  • Certification dates

  • Date of inspections

  • Engines

  • Repair history, including Form 337s

  • Propellers

  • Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)

  • Related parts and STCs

This is key because many aircraft may be in service for several decades. Without this information, you’re left in the dark regarding faults, maintenance, etc. In general, buyers will be wary of an aircraft without logbooks because there’s no record of the truth behind its history. It could have severe damage such as corrosion, engine failure, and other aircraft-killing issues.

Additionally, a professional appraiser won’t be able to make a complete analysis without an aircraft’s logbooks intact. Smaller aircraft may only have a few logs, while larger aircraft may have multiple large binders or digital records. Missing even one logbook can more heavily affect your aircraft’s value than a prop strike, and missing logbooks can diminish an aircraft’s value by 30 to 50%. And if you plan on buying and selling that same aircraft in the future, it’s essential to keep that in mind.

The Federal Aviation Administration & Logbooks

The FAA requires that you keep up with logbooks to show “compliance with the general aviation maintenance record-making and record-keeping requirements of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts 43 and 91.” It’s imperative to adhere to FAA rules and regulations for the safety of yourself and others.

Additional Tips

You might be thinking about buying an aircraft with a prop strike on its record. Or you might be wondering if you’ve taken the necessary steps to ensure your aircraft’s safety after a prop strike. The following are a few questions you should know the answers to if asked:

  • Was the propeller overhauled?

  • Was the propeller replaced entirely?

  • How was the engine affected?

  • Was the engine rebuilt?

  • Was there any other damage to the aircraft because of the prop strike?

  • Who fixed the aircraft, and are they reputable, qualified, and adhering to FAA requirements?

Knowing the answer to these questions will ensure that you’re making the right decision when buying or setting a price for your aircraft.

VREF Is An Official Guide Of The AOPA

When purchasing a plane with a prop strike or two on record, you should always get a professional appraisal and look at its logbooks. Only then should you feel comfortable and confident that you’re purchasing an aircraft that is safe, reliable, and worth your money.

Talk to the professionals at VREF when you need an appraisal for single and twin-engine aircraft, business jets, helicopters, and more.


Photo credit Suderman Prop Strike