The Amazon/eBay shopping environment has irrefutably enhanced our access to buy and sell many things online, asserts Jet Tolbert, American Aircraft Sales. While access to the fleet of business aircraft ‘for sale’ is also greatly enhanced, there’s good reason to take more care over your buying decision…
Generally speaking, online goods are shopped in a matter of seconds and the online purchase of retail items is typically based on price alone, with little or no consideration towards the product location. After all, if the buyer is unsatisfied, they can ship it back for a refund at little or no cost.
It may seem surprising to have to say, but this is not the attitude to take when considering the acquisition of a corporate aircraft. That low-cost option that Jack from accounts found online is not necessarily a good airplane, and could end up costing your company a fortune. You can establish that the aircraft is genuine, and is indeed for sale by only using reputable sites offering aircraft listings (such as AvBuyer.com) who work with verified dealers and offer full specs and location details, then further research is required before a decision to buy is made. Let’s look at some of the factors a buyer needs to consider that an online search alone won’t reveal…
Location, Location, Location?
The environmental factors an aircraft is exposed to greatly affect the amount of wear and tear on the airframe and engines. Prolonged exposure to a harsh environment, for example, might lead to costly repairs that materially affect the value of the aircraft, and put the uninformed buyer in potential jeopardy.
Let’s consider an aircraft that Jack has spotted based in the warm, salty surroundings of Indonesia. What will not be immediately evident is that the aircraft may have a higher incidence of corrosion on the airframe and internal engine components if it has not been maintained properly.
During the seller’s ownership period, the aircraft needs to have been monitored with increasing frequency of deep inspections checking for corrosion, and as any sign of corrosion appears, the effected parts should have been repaired more substantially, or even replaced per the OEM’s recommendation at an OEM-owned (first tier) or approved (second tier) maintenance facility during the seller’s ownership period.
If the seller has increased the inspection frequency, or made these repairs at a first or second tier facility it will show in the maintenance records.
Inspection history and repairs can be assessed by a knowledgeable buyer - or the buyer’s representative - to determine whether there is an impact to the value of the aircraft.
Sometimes corrosion can be overlooked in tougher climates as a fact of life, and a genuine problem could go unnoticed or unrepaired, potentially leaving the uninformed buyer in a very precarious situation. Be alert to this and show due diligence.
Aircraft acquisition is a time-consuming, costly process. Whether you are experienced or inexperienced in buying aircraft, you will want to source a good representative to help you do your homework on an online offering. Many uninformed buyers incur significant legal fees, pay for aircraft relocation, and other costs only to discover problematic maintenance issues during the inspection.
In some cases, they may discover that the seller is unable to proceed with the sale due to the cost of repairs, or come to the terrible realization that even if the repairs are made, the real value of that aircraft would be significantly lower than they have committed to paying.
In some instances, the uninformed buyer may choose an inadequate facility to perform their pre-purchase inspection and then find themselves owning an aircraft which subsequently needs to be taken out of service for months while costly repairs are made, no doubt lowering the intrinsic value of the corporate asset and disrupting operations.
Ask Yourself This…
Would you buy an aircraft cheap, knowing that corrosion had gone unnoticed and required attention? If you knew in advance that the aircraft Jack from accounts spotted requires a high level of repairs, would you have agreed to pay the price, or worked with a professional to either negotiate or find a better alternative?
Would you use the price of an aircraft for sale in a highly corrosive environment and with an unknown maintenance and operational history as justification for not buying a premium aircraft in the local market unless the price is matched? Conversely would you ignore a fine-tuned machine with impeccable CAMO supervision from outside your local region based solely on its location?
There are many questions to ask beyond the price you see on the internet.
The great news is that there are experienced professionals with global networks that can help navigate these complex issues and find you some great values far beyond what you see in the listing.
Buying an aircraft in the global marketplace can be a tremendous opportunity - with the right knowledge and market experience!