Buying an Airplane

Are you looking to buy an airplane? Currently, it’s a buyer’s market among aluminum aircraft sales. I sold and purchased a single engine aircraft in 2013, and I’m writing to share my thoughts and experiences with the process.

Step 1 – Evaluation

AOPA LinkedIn Forum – This week I observed a fellow pilot use the AOPA LinkedIn forum to gather information on a plane he was considering to buy. I joined in the discussion. It’s a great tool to hear from pilots that just a few years ago was not available.

Aircraft clubs – Type clubs are another good source of information. Evaluate comparable models. Don’t forget to ask club members about models that compete with their aircraft. Individual perspectives are helpful.

VREF Subscription – I found the VREF subscription to be a good additional point of reference to market prices. A one-year subscription is $195 or you can purchase a shorter term.

GAMA.areo – You should review the General Aviation Manufacturer’s Association Report. The information is available online at no charge. I’ve summarized a number of GAMA.areo reports for single piston engine aircraft on this website.

Internet – Search for articles. Online content is growing at a fast pace.

Mission – Most pilots are matching a particular model to the most typical mission that they want to fly. If you fly distances longer than an hour-half, you should take a look at turbos. Design advances have made a dramatic difference.

At first, I discounted the idea of a turbo and focused on the normally aspirated engine. But after further evaluation, I purchased a Cirrus SR22TN-G3 turbo. Now, I would not go back to a normally aspirated engine.

Step 2 – Purchase

Your second step is the actual purchase process. Do you have an existing plane to sell? Consider doing that first. You’ll learn a lot about the current market and refresh yourself on the sales/purchase process.

A lot of information is available online at sites like AOPA.

Consider a flying partnership if you’re on a budget.  A partnership provides an opportunity for 50% – 75% discounts on your general aviation expenses.  But finding the right partner will take some time and effort.

Step 3 – Transition Training

The third step is to have a good transition training plan. The first 100 hours is the most critical time for transitioning into a new aircraft. You should outline a plan and put a time-line on it.  Cirrus Aircraft has an excellent Technically Advance Aircraft transition training plan.

In summary, you should have a basic 3-step plan: Evaluation, Purchase and Transition.

Related articles:

  • Guidance Pre-Owned Market for Cirrus Aircraft click here
  • How to Sell an Airplane, Part 1 of 5 click here

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