Buying an Airplane: Top Tips for Experienced Pilots and Novices Alike

Have you ever heard of the 90/10 rule when making a purchase? You might wonder how this is related to buying an airplane but read along to understand.

It’s a rule that will come in handy when you are shopping around for the perfect plane.

Upon taking their first flight, many pilots get a strong urge to become plane owners. There might not be a cure for this itch, but to save up and buy it. However, the process of finding one that fits into your lifestyle is not as easy.

If you no longer want to pay for private jet trips, here are top tips to help you when buying an airplane. They’ll make the process less intimidating and more fulfilling.

1. Apply the 90% Rule

One of the biggest mistakes that occur is buying a plane that fits the hoped-for mission. Instead, you should go for one that meets your real purpose. Avoid buying an aircraft that you’ll end up underutilizing.

Here’s how the 90/10 rule applies. Go for a plane that meets your needs 90% of the time. For the other 10% of the time that it does not meet your needs, hire one.

For example, if you’re considering a six-seater for family use, consider the 90/10 rule.

It’s very likely that 90% of the time the plane will only carry you and a friend. To a great extent, the airplane will end up underutilized. It’ll only meet 10% of your needs, which can be met by hiring a plane.

To be more realistic, list what you’ll do with the plane, and the frequency.

Some other factors to consider are trip distance, typical flight loading, and conditions of flight.

2. New or Used?

The difference in aircraft value between a new and used one can be baffling. It may cause you to decide to have a used plane. Before you make the decision, consider some factors.

Buying a new airplane will see you pay lower interest rates, subsidized by the manufacturer. You’ll also have a more extended period to finance the aircraft. It’s also possible for you to enjoy some tax relief.

Buying a new airplane will provide you with an opportunity to calculate maintenance costs. The costs may be lower than for a used craft. You’ll have peace of mind as the first owner of the plane.

It’s easier to qualify for a loan to buy a new plane than a used one. The down payments are also lower. With all these factors at hand, it’ll make more sense to buy a new airplane.

3. Examining the Aircraft

Once you’ve decided on the first two steps, it’s time to do a thorough inspection. Some of the things that you should look at are:

  • How the plane is sitting on its gear
  • Is the rising of the antennae appropriate?
  • Is there consistency in the paint?
  • Are the N numbers even in style and size on both sides?
  • Is the registration and airworthiness certificate present on the door?
  • Is the ownership listed on the registration and airworthiness certificates the same?

Check to ensure that the flight manual matches what you learned at the TC. You also need to check if there’s new equipment that has been installed. If so, does the craft still maintain balance?

As an example, a new radio might weigh more or less than the original one. Its new weight could affect the useful weight and load.

Once you’re satisfied that the airplane is what it’s supposed to be, bring in a mechanic. It’s advisable not to make the decision alone no matter how qualified you are. A mechanic will check into the more delicate details and conduct a pre-purchase inspection.

He’ll explore even the less visible parts that might have escaped your attention. An engine inspection is of utmost importance in addition to the struts, flaps, doors, and windows. A good mechanic also examines the seats and floor mats for undue wearing out.

4. Do a Test Flight

If you’re satisfied with the visual inspection, it’s time for a practical test. Consider hiring an instructor for the testing if the model is new to you. Some of the things you’ll be checking as you fly are

  • The ease of starting the engine.
  • Proper functioning of the engine instruments
  • Unusual shimmy in the nose gear
  • Turn and bank indicator. The needle and ball should remain at the center without pressure control.
  • The condition of the radios
  • The airspeed indicator at various settings
  • Presence of oil leaks after landing

If you’re satisfied with all the checks the mechanic recommends, it’s time for the next step.

5. Time to Negotiate

At this time, you should have an idea of what your ideal airplane will cost. Protect yourself from buyer’s remorse by determining a budget and sticking to it. It’s a common mistake with many buyers to get influenced to spend what they don’t have.

Avoid spending beyond means. As you are buying an airplane, look for one that falls within the range. Remain realistic because the more you ratchet up your figure, the more you’ll end up spending.

Before you commit your money, research the history of your airplane. The internet’s an excellent resource. You want to be sure that your inspection has provided you with the right details.

Buying an Airplane – Final Thoughts

Buying an airplane is a process that takes longer than buying your conventional car. There’s much you need to check before you sign those papers. This guide is just an outline of what you need to do.

It provides you with a clue of the process. If you’re unsure of any part of the inspection, it’s recommendable to work with an expert. A pilot with more experience or a mechanic with experience in airplane purchases will do.

The physical inspection is as necessary as the test flight. A second pair of eyes and hands will come in handy to identify possible problems. When you finally decide to buy, ensure that you’re getting value for your money.

Avoid the mistake of overbuying. This happens when you overestimate the purpose of the airplane.

You can continue reading our blog for more information about business travel.