Buying a Jet? The Seven-Steps to Completion

What should be on the checklist of every buyer of a pre-owned business aircraft? David Wyndham shares a seven-step roadmap to help clarify the process and keep an aircraft acquisition on course for completion without needless hassle...

David Wyndham  |  04th May 2023
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    David Wyndham
    David Wyndham

    David Wyndham has extensive expertise in aircraft sales and acquisitions, asset management, cost and...

    What are the steps to buying a private jet


    Unless you are an aircraft sales professional, buying a business jet is usually done very infrequently. An aircraft transaction is no place for the uneducated or unprepared. It’s important to know the different stages of the transaction thoroughly and keep close tabs on everything. Following are seven steps to put you on a path to completion.

    If you are to ensure a smooth transaction, it’s best to follow three basic tips:

    1. Don’t go it alone, get a team of pros who know the steps and can advise and guide you. This should include an aircraft sales professional  and aviation legal and tax representation.
    2. Be honest with that team to understand the process and manage expectations.
    3. Control your emotions. There is a lot of money involved in the transaction. Jumping on a deal because you are developing an attachment to that specific one aircraft against the advice of your team will probably cost you.

    This article will provide a seven-step roadmap to completion with a focus on tips one and two.

    Step 1: Build Your Aircraft Acquisition Team

    Before you even get to the transaction process, you should have identified your needs and desires, developed a budget to acquire and operate the aircraft, and done your due diligence in identifying your preferred aircraft acquisition professional.

    If you don’t have a qualified aviation attorney, this is the time to get one. There are many technical and legal terms that can play significant parts in the transaction, and having good legal advice will protect you as the buyer.

    Once the jet for sale you wish to purchase has been identified, you should plan on about six to eight weeks for the process to unfold.

    If you plan on placing your aircraft with a management company, get the agreements in place and the management team involved early. Aircraft insurance, crew training, support equipment, and possibly a different hangar will all need to be coordinated.

    Step 2: Letter of Intent

    The initial steps in an aircraft transaction will involve the Letter of Intent (LOI) and scheduling the Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI).

    The LOI is a non-binding document that sets up the buyer’s intent to purchase, the price, and conditions of purchase. Depending on the transaction and your aviation legal advice, it may be short and general, or it could be lengthy and detailed.

    Try to cover the general terms of the purchase to include what sort of PPI you will accept, and where and when you desire to close. The delivery location should involve tax planning as well as any operational considerations. The LOI will ultimately set the tone and pace of the process.

    Step 3: Placing Funds into Escrow

    The LOI, assuming it’s accepted, precedes the placement of funds into Escrow. The terms of the release of funds need to be clearly specified and understood by both parties and the Escrow Agent.

    Upon placing funds into escrow, a title search and International Registry Application will be started. The title should be clear of any liens or encumbrances.

    Step 4: Purchase of Sale Agreement

    Next, the Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA) will be due. This is typically prepared by the buyer’s legal team. Financing (if needed) is addressed here, as well as the final acceptance terms for the aircraft.

    The PSA will determine who of the buyer and seller will pay which costs, where the closing will take place, and what terms are needed in the upcoming PPI for a successful sale. The PSA should also address payment for any discrepancies arising from the PPI.

    To continue reading, click on the button below to view the article in the AvBuyer May 2023 digital edition.

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    David Wyndham

    David Wyndham

    Editor, Ownership & Operating Costs

    David Wyndham has extensive expertise in aircraft sales and acquisitions, asset management, cost and budget analysis and finance fundamentals. With several decades supporting aircraft owners and operators in making fully-informed decisions about their aircraft needs, his expertise spans from the flight department to the executive boardroom.

    David is the founder of David Wyndham + Associates, and previously he was a Co-owner and President of Conklin & de Decker where he consulted with large corporations, individuals, and government agencies on their aircraft needs.


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