Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Buying Your First Airplane

Navigating the purchase maze

The Downward Ownership Cycle

Buyers of used aircraft should be aware of how the airplane was used or not used during its last year or two of ownership. Typically, aircraft are used less and less, and the maintenance follows the same trend. So think about the following guidelines.

• Most airplanes are owned in a three- to five-year cycle. The first year is full of activity, and the airplane is well maintained.
 In the second to third year, use typically drops off dramatically and the airplane starts to suffer the effects of lack of use—seals begin to dry out, and corrosion gets a toehold because moisture isn’t regularly “flown out.”
 In the third to fifth year of ownership, it becomes harder to justify the expense, and the airplane suffers even more from lack of use. The result is that maintenance is often (but not always) postponed.

The buyer needs to study the maintenance history of the aircraft, and know when to walk away or when to build in a healthy budget to cover a spike in maintenance.

Piper Aircraft matches new purchasers with possible co-owners in their area. PiperMatch specialists look for a fit between Piper enthusiasts who share location and financial wherewithal and have compatible profiles.

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