How to Sell an Airplane, Part 5 of 5

Complete and well-organized records can help sell an airplane. How significant are they to marketability and value? What is a good inventory check list for aircraft records?

You should have place holders for at least the following: current registration, airframe logs, propeller logs, current engine log, all previous engine logs, invoices, warranties, maintenance yellow tags, Supplemental Type Certificates (STC’s), FAA Forms 337, Airworthiness Directives (AD’s), Special Airworthiness Information Bulletins (SAIB’s), Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) with current weight & balance, all avionics manuals, and current loan documents if applicable.

A pilot recently shared with me that he was not going to spend time making copies of his aircraft logs.  He told an interested buyer that he’d send a copy of the last annual but that was all. That same pilot, after several months of trying to sell his airplane, told me he was going to let the local FBO handle the sale.  Check your temperament (see How to Sell an Airplane, Part 1). Today’s buyers are not going to travel all the way to you just to check logs.

If you want the sale then make it easy to evaluate your airplane. Serious inquiries will want to see at least the last few years of airframe and engine logs.  It should take about an hour to get the minimum documents into an electronic copy.  You can create a PDF file or photograph copies  i.e. with an iPhone.

You should expect the request for records and use it as an opportunity to build trust with your prospective buyer.  The prompt call, timely email and delivery of requested information begins to reveal how you’ll handle other aspects of a potential transaction.

You can put aircraft records online with your advertisement or respond to requests.  To save time, I’d put the records on a site like Photobucket and offer a link by email. I chose the latter because I wanted to speak with prospects interested in that level of information. It’s a two-way street.  This process also gave me an opportunity to get to know them.

The buyer’s pre-purchase surveyor of my plane was an A&P, former Fixed-Base Operator (FBO) and a retired FAA inspector.  While the buyer and I flew the airplane he reviewed the aircraft records.  When we returned to the ramp he said to the buyer “These are the most complete and organized records I have ever seen.”  That comment helped to close the deal and the review of the aircraft went well. I don’t take his remark as a blanket endorsement of my record keeping as much as a commentary on the lack of effort he’s seen with other aircraft records over the years.

Put at least the following records on your closing checklist when you sell an airplane: aircraft registration FAA Form 8050-1, Bill of Sale FAA Form 8050-2, statement of occasional sale form, Section 151.304 Texas Tax Code (review your State tax code), bank wire for payment, insurance carrier notification, and avionics subscriptions cancellation.

You must notify the FAA if you sell your aircraft.  Notice should be given by returning your aircraft registration Form 8050 to the Aircraft Registration Branch of the FAA in Oklahoma City, OK.  Complete the appropriate information on the back of your aircraft registration card, then sign and date the document before mailing.

Your aircraft record keeping should help not hinder the sale of your airplane.  Don’t leave a sale with missing records. If you know how important aircraft records are from the first day of ownership it will be a smooth transition to landing a sales deal on the last day.

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2 thoughts on “How to Sell an Airplane, Part 5 of 5

  1. Excellent set of articles. Very comprehensive. I must admit that as I was reading it, I started thinking that using a broker may be the best way to go. Should I decide to sell my plane myself referring to these articles will certainly be part of my process.

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