Are you buying a used aircraft? There are some things you need to know.

Buying a used plane is a big deal. There’s a considerable amount of money involved, so if you’re not confident in what you’re doing, a lot can go wrong.

Today is your lucky day. In this post, we’re going to give you a few tips on buying your first aircraft.

Deciding to buy an aircraft, especially your first, is stressful, but once you close, there’s nothing more rewarding than having your plane. Follow this guide and get the best one for you.

Research and Aviation Regulations

Before diving into your search for an aircraft, it’s essential to consider what your needs are. Look at what types of flights you’ll be taking it on, how many passengers you’ll be bringing, and how far you might go. Try to accurately match up this information with the correct class of aircraft. The flights you plan on taking is known as your mission profile, and it’s critical to buy a plane that meets the majority of your flights. So don’t buy more aircraft then you need because of that one or two trips outside your anticipated operations.

Your mission profile will help you narrow down your search and help you start to funnel down the data you need to make a final decision. Buying an aircraft is overwhelming because of all the data out in the market. Visiting forums and owners groups online is a great way to get familiar with what you should be looking for in a specific model. Remember, there is no substitute for flying an aircraft for a while before you start down the rabbit hole of modifications and upgrades. Know what you want and why you want it, and then try to find that equipment in an aircraft that is already for sale.


The financial side of purchasing a plane is one of the more essential aspects of potential ownership. There are a lot of sellers out there, and some are honest and transparent, and some are not. As an inexperienced plane buyer, you could be taken advantage of, so consider hiring a broker to protect your best interests or better yet hire VREF. That’s why it’s crucial always to get a VREF appraisal or Verified report done on any aircraft you’re interested in purchasing.

A VREF Report will allow the buyer to see if the plane is appropriately priced. The following things are taken into account during an aircraft valuation:

  • Engine hours and time between overhaul (TBO). Engine conversions, modifications, and maintenance.
  • Installed equipment on the aircraft, such as avionics and optional equipment. Items like float kits or EFIS will add value.
  • Condition of the interior, paint, avionics, and when was the last time it was refurbished?

If your prospective aircraft matches up well to the VREF valuations, you can move on to the fun part, negotiating on the purchase price.

This process can move quickly or take weeks; it just depends on the personality and urgency of the parties. Some buyers will agree to forgo a prebuy to save some money, but please don’t!

Pre-Purchase Inspection

First thing’s first, you should always test-fly an aircraft before buying it. When you do so, ensure that you check that all of the equipment and systems are functioning normally.

Have a trustworthy A&P mechanic perform an aircraft inspection before you close. They’ll check things like the compression on the engine and go through the aircraft condition checklist to make sure everything is in airworthy condition, and if it’s not, don’t worry, the deal is not dead. The discrepancy list can be another step in the negotiating process, or if awful things like corrosion are uncovered, then you can thank the lucky stars you were fortunate enough to discover it before you own it.

Use your mechanic, even if the seller suggests their own. It’s always better to have a third party verify the condition of the aircraft.

Clear the Title and Close

After you’ve done the pre-purchase inspection and the squawks have been repaired, its time to set the closing. If you are not using Escrow, please think twice. Escrow will cleat title and make sure your aircraft is lien-free, because once you buy it, well, you own the liens as well. Escrow will disburse funds, and make sure all documentation is stamped and sent into the FAA.

If you need an aircraft valuation, visit us at VREF, the Aircraft Valuation experts, for all aviation needs.