Tips for a Great Aircraft Deal

How can a seller and buyer work best with their broker?

Jet Tolbert  |  28th March 2016
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Jet Tolbert
Jet Tolbert

Jet Tolbert is president of Florida-based American Aircraft Sales where he oversees all aspects of aircraft...

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With market conditions becoming more difficult, there is an even greater need for aircraft dealers and brokers to manage buyer/seller expectations, notes Jet Tolbert… What customer service should a buyer and seller look for today?

With every aircraft entering the market there is a degree of speculation and an ‘unknown’ when it comes to predicting a final sale price, even with the most insightful market intelligence to hand. Unlike the real estate market, there is no public record of aircraft transaction prices and insider comments regarding ‘final prices’ often should be taken with a pinch of salt.

One can estimate the value of an aircraft based on recent transactions and the current pricing of similar aircraft on the market, but there are still unknown variables within the equation.

Access to JETNET or AMSTAT data, for example, helps track the transfer of bills of sale, and an inquiring mind can ascertain which LLCs and shell companies transacted an aircraft title, which serial numbers/registrations were sold, the region each aircraft was sold from and where they arrived with their new owner. These data, however, do not provide verifiable selling prices.

Additionally, one should keep in mind that included in the list of transactions are (for example) sales to related companies, or those undertaken with the sole purpose of an operating lease – factors that only muddy the water. So what should an aircraft seller seek to help give them clarity in a cloudy market?


As the second-generation owner of a nearly 50-year-old aircraft sales company, experience has taught me that the best promises made are those I can deliver on.

It’s essential for the client consultation to focus on the specifics of a marketing plan and what needs to be done to sell the airplane on the basis of market realities.

A broker with the ability to leverage established industry experience of a particular market provides a seller with the best market intelligence available, giving them an informed prediction as to range of a selling price.

Pricing Strategy

Be realistic – listen to the broker who should help manage your expectations rather than promise you top buck and instant success. Focus on a current evaluation at the time of aircraft listing with an understanding that the market could change. (Unexpected events, such as ‘fire sales’, can impact the market for your aircraft, and it can take some time for recovery to more usual levels afterwards.)

You may think dealers and brokers have it made in the shade, but the fact is that even in a relatively soft market there are still plenty of expectations to be managed. Work with your broker and be realistic for the best outcome.

Invest in the Deal

Here’s one for the buyer… Good airplanes will always command a premium price. Getting a bespoke aircraft with the right combination of cabin configuration, low airframe time, good maintenance history and personal preference of color, along with service bulletin upgrades – all at a good price in-line with expected market trends – requires a lot of research and patient negotiation.

Even with inventories seemingly overflowing with aircraft, however, buyers are quickly frustrated with the process of trying to find that ‘right’ airplane with everything on their wish list already packaged and ready to go!

You’d stand a far greater chance of finding ‘the one’ at a great price if you’re ready to listen to the advice of your broker and apply some willingness to make some upgrades after closing in order to experience the satisfaction of a truly bespoke aircraft.

Once the buyer realizes this and begins to consider more aircraft on the market, they start to realize an increase in bargaining power.

Essentially, whether you’re an aircraft buyer of seller, you’d give your prospects of getting excellent value from a deal a boost if you pick the dealer with a track record for your aircraft and listen to their advice…


Bombardier Global 6000 1
Bombardier Global 6000
Deal pending
Airbus/Eurocopter AS 355N 1
Airbus/Eurocopter AS 355N
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Piper Navajo Chieftain 1
Piper Navajo Chieftain
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United Kingdom
Canadair CL-605 1
Canadair CL-605
Please call
United Kingdom
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