Answers for Pilots: Great time to buy!

April 1, 2011

Great time to buy!Have you have been spending your winter weekends reading aviation classifieds for airplanes, researching aircraft types, and deciding which flying machine might be right for you? Your dream of owning an aircraft can become a reality.

If you’ve got questions about buying an aircraft, AOPA has answers for you! AOPA’s staff of technical aviation specialists answers thousands of aircraft purchasing questions each year. We can help you determine a fair value for the aircraft you have in mind, and talk with you about costs, financing, insurance, inspections, aircraft records and all the other considerations that go into making an informed decision to buy.

The first big decision is deciding on the type of aircraft to buy – determining which aircraft meets the majority of your flying needs. It’s sometimes a battle between what you want and what you need. Think about where you will fly? How often? VFR or IFR? Do you usually fly alone or do you often carry passengers. If you fly solo most of the time, perhaps you don’t need a four or six seat aircraft. Of course, with a one-seater, you’d lose the ability to bring others with you, but maybe a small aircraft with two seats would be enough. If it’s only once every couple of years that you carry more than one passenger, the cost savings might be well worth considering.

Speaking of cost, AOPA can help you determine the fair price of an aircraft for sale by running a Vref aircraft valuation for you. All you need to do is call us (800-USA-AOPA) with the aircraft information, including its condition, and equipment and we can discuss it with you. It’s a free service for AOPA members. Once you have a particular aircraft in mind, the good folks with AOPA’s Aircraft Financing Program will be able to discuss your loan options. Remember, though, that there’s not just the monthly loan payment to consider. Remember to include maintenance costs, fuel, and insurance, among others. AOPA has a cost calculator to help you figure out what you can reasonably expect. You may want to discuss insurance options with AOPA Insurance Agency.

AOPA does recommend a prepurchase inspection and flight. Ideally, the mechanic should have experience with that type of aircraft. Before you put a deposit on the aircraft, consider contacting AIC Title Service, LLC. They can run a title search and check for liens, generate a report of the aircraft’s major alterations and repairs, and facilitate the paperwork and the closing. In fact, AOPA and our partners can help you with every step of the purchase process.

Because this is a topic of high interest to so many of you, AOPA will be hosting a Webinar on Aircraft Purchasing on April 20. We’ll have two sessions: one at 3:00 p.m. and one at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time. You can sign up online by visiting. And, as always, if you have an immediate question, give us a call, 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672).