Flying on private jets or any other private aircraft has always been perceived as a luxury afforded to the affluent. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic had everyone looking for more convenient and, most importantly, safer ways of travel. Statistics display astounding growth, with forecasts predicting 6,362 to 7,300 new jets within the next decade, thus an exponential rise in aircraft sales.
Flying private eliminates the usual interactions with strangers at the airport and considerably reduces travel time while offering privacy, flexibility, and comfort. These benefits are becoming necessities than they are luxuries, thus expanding the private aircraft industry to a broader market.
Factors to Consider Before Purchasing an Aircraft
You will be forgiven for thinking financing was the biggest challenge when purchasing an aircraft. Buying a private plane is expensive, but the experience can be much worse. There are a lot of details that require your attention, especially for first-time aircraft buyers. Here are some significant considerations to add to your checklist.
Type of Plane
It is easy to dream big when it comes to private planes. However, It is vital to research the most affordable and reasonable options to suit your needs. Generally, private jets are divided into seven categories: Very Light Jet, Light Jets, Midsize Jets, Super Midsize Jets, Heavy Business Jet, Ultra-Long Range, and Executive Airliners. The bigger the plane, the larger your budget is likely to get.
Age and Condition
Airplanes can age gracefully depending on how well they are maintained; therefore, it is common to find planes as old as 30 to 40 years on the market. Age can be a red or green flag, depending on how everything else operates. An overall check starts with checking for flaking spots and rusty parts on the exterior and interiors. These simple things are indicators of poor maintenance and the potential for more problems.
Cost of Ownership
A plane is a long-term investment requiring frequent financing on top of the initial purchase price. Aircraft ownership means consistent payments, including insurance, storage fees, maintenance, etc. You must include all these costs when gauging the affordability of the aircraft.
While mileage is a metric to determine the longevity of vehicles, engine hours are the best way to know how much an aircraft has endured. In this case, the more the number of hours, the lower the value of the aircraft. It is also worth noting that the plane’s age determines how long it has flown. Finding a newer plane with more engine hours than an older one is possible. In that case, maintenance should be the most crucial concern.
Most private jet owners are willing to splurge on fancy equipment, some from the factory while others included as modifications over the years. Major equipment to look out for include controls, air conditioning, avionics, and deicing equipment. These systems are highly regarded during an aircraft’s valuation; the plane can do well without some of these customizations and fancy detailing. Therefore, you must determine what you need and what is with your money.
Damage and Repair Records
The damage history and repair records can show how much wear and tear the airplane has gone through and how it was handled over the years. Significant repairs must be done in adherence to strict FAA guidelines and regulations. While the authorities ensure the plane is airworthy, these maintenance reports can also affect its valuation, thus determining how much you should pay.
Should I buy an old or new aircraft?
New or old, what determines the best option is your budget. You must dig deeper into your pockets to get a new one. Nevertheless, a pre-owned aircraft can serve equally well, if not better, as long as it meets all the safety standards. A professional aircraft sales company should have all the pre-purchase inspections done, thus cutting on higher maintenance costs.
What are the legal considerations for purchasing a private aircraft?
Everything about an aircraft requires high-level specialized knowledge; thus, aircraft sales must also comply with federal laws implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration. The first legal requirement is qualified professionals, including a technical inspector and a licensed attorney. The team will develop a purchase agreement that includes all the agreement terms, including buyer protections, contingencies for a title, all mechanical and technical items, etc. The signing of the agreement is followed by a due diligence investigation and a pre-purchase inspection by the FAA before closing the deal.
Who should I consult before purchasing an aircraft?
There is no easy way out when it comes to purchasing an aircraft. While it is an expensive commitment, prospective buyers can seek the assistance of knowledgeable and licensed aviation consultants and brokers.
At what stage should I test the aircraft?
A test drive in your prospective aircraft is significant to the decision-making process. Unlike a vehicle, aircraft sellers will need more than your word before letting you fly. They will likely ask for a letter of intent and, often, a refundable deposit in escrow to show your commitment.
The easier route would be to charter a similar aircraft or even different models before deciding the best fit.