How to Evaluate A Used Aircraft

Buying a used aircraft is incredibly fun but also requires appropriate due diligence. Too many buyers end up with a faulty aircraft and that means considerable repair costs. Instead of dealing with an aircraft that’s below-par, inefficient, and unsafe, why not invest in something that’s going to fly beautifully?

A quality used aircraft doesn’t have to be a difficult purchase as long as you’re patient with your approach and learn as much as you can about your options. There are so many choices to go with and it always comes back to your willingness to do research. When checking out an airplane for sale, keep in mind the following factors.

1) Engine Hours

This is important as an older aircraft will have been through a lot before it’s put up for sale. You want to go with something that doesn’t have a high number of engine hours as that can be a sign of pending issues and unforeseen future costs. Instead, you want to avoid such planes and only go with something that has lower hours. If you do decide to purchase an engine with high hours, then it’s best to see how the repair work has been by checking the records.

2) External Wear and Tear

Just like anything, an aircraft will also go through wear and tear. It happens all the time and that’s not the owner’s fault. However, it’s important to make sure they have managed the aircraft and kept an eye out for these things. Otherwise, you may be in for a surprise when rust stats to appear and things fall apart. This is why you want to check every angle of the aircraft, especially from the outside. This is where major mistakes are made.

3) Operational Cost(s)

What are the operational costs to run such an aircraft throughout the year? Is it going to be reasonable for you or is it costly?

Unless you are operating an unusual, or specialty aircraft, operational costs are a part of the process and you shouldn’t invest in something that will be impossible to pay for later on. Be smart right now and look at another used aircraft as that will ensure you don’t end up with deadweight on your hands.

4) Flying Performance

Just like a car, you need to go for a test ride and that is absolutely essential when it comes to a used aircraft. You cannot purchase an aircraft that you haven’t flown, as many issues reveal themselves when you go through a test flight. Pay attention to how well it flies, then look for any issues that you might suspect.

5) Spare Parts Availability

Yes, natural wear and tear will happen and that means replacement parts will be necessary. Most modern planes come with a plethora of spare parts but that doesn’t have to be the case with a used aircraft. If the aircraft is older in age, it is going to have minimal spare parts if you’re not careful. Look into this and continue to monitor how many suppliers sell these spare parts. Otherwise, you may be left with a troubled aircraft and no OEM replacement parts in the market.

As long as you are looking out for these details, the used aircraft will end up being a wonderful addition to your collection and is going to be a brilliant buy. It is always important to recognize the value of patience and how it can lead you to a tremendous aircraft. For anyone that is rushed or thinks this is an easy purchase, you shouldn’t force yourself to buy because that’s often a mistake. Continue to look at all of the metrics and features before diving in so you are assured with the purchase that’s made.

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Alan Carr
Alan is a pilot and aviation enthusiast with years of experience in aircraft sales, and is an owner of, one of the largest online marketplaces for aircraft buyers and sellers.