So you’re thinking about purchasing an aircraft. You’ll soon discover that purchasing an airplane can be a more arduous process than buying your first home. In fact, there are a lot of similarities…you want to make sure you are getting the most value for the money you are spending, and you want to make sure the airplane is in the condition the seller has described it to be.
The answer to both your money being well spent and guaranteeing the condition of what you are buying is a good prepurchase inspection. The aircraft prepurchase inspection contains basically two elements: the audit of the maintenance logbooks and the physical inspection of the airframe and powerplant.
The audit of the maintenance records is paramount not only in determining whether or not all of the Airworthiness Directives, mandatory service bulletins, and annual inspections have been complied with, but the way the logbooks have been maintained say a lot about how the aircraft has been maintained. I don’t think I’m going out on too far a limb by saying I would feel a little more confident purchasing an aircraft which, after completion of a Beechcraft phase inspection had a detailed account of the work performed on the aircraft during the inspection, than a single line which read, “Performed Phase 3 Inspection. Everything looked good.” (by the way, I actually saw this signoff by an I.A. in an airframe logbook !!!). A good maintenance records search is also able to provide you a list of what inspections and maintenance may be coming due after purchase for your early budgeting purposes.
As far as the physical inspection of the aircraft, the more detailed the inspection, the less chance there is of surprises after the purchase is completed. The annual/100 hour inspection for smaller aircraft, as well as the Beechcraft King Air Complete Inspection or a Phase 1-5 Inspection on a Cessna Citation, are intended to be nose to tail inspections of the aircraft, and are the perfect tool for an aircraft prepurchase inspection. Not only do they cover an extensive inspection of the aircraft for purposes of your purchase, but they also start you out with a fresh inspection on your aircraft after the sale. As a note, if the cost of an annual inspection is a little out of reach for where you might be in the buying process, there are groups of aircraft owners such as the American Bonanza Society who have designed prepurchase checklists which both entail a detailed inspection of key aircraft components and systems, but also keep the labor hours at a minimum.
Advancetech Aircraft Maintenance, Inc. is your aircraft prepurchase inspecion headquarters. If you might be considering the purchase of your first aircraft, or you are looking at upgrading your current aircraft and need a totally unbiased and expert look at the aircraft, I would love to speak with you about letting Advancetech take away some of those worries and concerns, before they turn into the airplane buying blues.