Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Top 20 Tips For Buying An Airplane


Preparation is the key to getting a great deal in today’s buyer’s market



14 CAREFULLY CONSIDER INSURANCE. Familiarize yourself with the differences between liability and hull insurance. Know that you can shop for insurance in two ways: through a broker who deals with several underwriters, or by shopping through the Internet. While the web is certainly convenient, professional aircraft dealers suggest that you use a broker. One reason is that, in the event of an accident, a qualified insurance broker will represent you and assist with the claim. Insurance purchased online won’t afford you that direct, personalized service. Buyers should arrange insurance early in the process. Get insurance quotes and learn about aircraft insurance through websites such as www.aopaia.com, www.eaa.org/insurance and www.avemco.com.

15 USE VALUATION TOOLS. There are online sources for aircraft valuation, but most charge a fee. Valuation services accurately price a particular aircraft, based on several variables. The resulting value should be used as a general range when shopping for an aircraft. AOPA members can get Vref price guide information free at www.aopa.org/members/vref. Nonmembers can purchase valuation reports directly from www.vrefpub.com or www.aircraftbluebook.com.

16 CONSIDER SHARED OWNERSHIP. To put it simply, owning an aircraft with just one other person will cut all costs in half. Because most of us don’t use an airplane every day, or even every week, splitting ownership costs with a partner makes good financial sense. There are many flavors of shared ownership, from corporate structures to simple partnerships to fractional ownership. An emerging idea is that of “cooperative” ownership, where inexpensive aircraft are shared at both low-entry and low-usage costs. LetsFly.org and the Aircraft Partnership Association (www.theapa.com) are innovators here, and there are traditional fractional-ownership programs from manufacturers, such as Cirrus Share, and scores of third-party shared-ownership programs.

17 FACTOR IN THE COSTS OF ACCESSORIES. Buyers frequently forget the cost of accessories when purchasing aircraft. These add-ons could significantly push up your final price tag. For example, that shiny, new, aerobatic-capable plane will require a couple of parachutes, which can easily cost up to $3,000 each. Avionics, safety add-ons and comfort features all add significant cost. Perhaps you’re outfitting a four-seater with top-quality ANR headsets for all passengers—that’s a $4,000 price tag. Accessories are great assets, but be sure to factor in the cost beforehand.


Real Stories Of Aircraft Buyers

Classic Airplane

Buyer: Dean Siracusa
Airplane: 1966 Meyers 200
Airport: Hawthorne Municipal Airport (KHHR)
Profile: Dean is a knowledgeable buyer who owned a Cessna Skyhawk and was flying about 200 hours yearly before acquiring his Meyers 200. He was looking for a fast airplane for frequent trips to see his family in Texas. One of his prime decision factors was safety. The Meyers he found was one of only 100 built and was owned by an 80-year-old who was the original owner.
Typical Mission: Frequent flights from California to Texas; most with just two people. Dean didn’t want to sacrifice safety for speed.
Why This Airplane?: Nobody ever sells a Meyers. It’s a very safe airplane (no ADs issued on the airframe—ever). The aircraft was in excellent condition, and it fit his mission needs.
Intended Vs. Actual Use: He flies more often than he did before his purchase. The aircraft fulfills his every need, and he considers it to be the perfect airplane.
Best Flight: Flying to and around Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for Burning Man each year. He loves the remoteness and the adventure.
Top Tips: Be patient, ready and prepared to “pull the trigger” when you find the right deal.





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