Answers for Pilots: Aircraft Purchasing - there's help for you here

Members have tremendous resources available for aircraft purchasing and ongoing ownership

August 1, 2012

Vref - what is that aircraft worth?

This time of year there’s a lot of talk about buying and selling aircraft. For some members, it’s a first-time purchase. Others are selling what they own to buy something bigger and faster. And some don’t want to go fast anymore and are downsizing from a family-sized flying machine to a two-seater, kicking back to fly low and enjoy the scenery. Whatever your dreams are concerning aircraft ownership, AOPA has the resources to help you – both with your initial purchase as well as with your ongoing experience as an aircraft owner.

After you’ve given some realistic thought to the kind of aircraft best suited to your needs, and perused various listings of aircraft-for-sale ads, you will have some idea of what you may be interested in purchasing. You may want to explore Vref, an online database providing average value and aircraft-specific information on every general aviation airplane—free for AOPA members. A call to AOPA’s Pilot Information Center (800-872-2672) can help you estimate the added value of specific equipment. ( See July’s Answers for Pilots).

AOPA has an Operating Cost Calculator to assist you in estimating the operational costs of ownership.

Once you’ve decided on the airplane you want to purchase, you can inquire about financing through AOPA Aircraft Financing and insurance with AOPA Insurance Agency. You’ll want to have a prepurchase inspection done and complete a thorough review of the aircraft logbooks. It’s a really good idea to have a title search AOPA Title Services (AIC Title) to ensure there are no liens, check airworthiness reports on the aircraft, and verify the accuracy of all the documents. AIC Title can do this for you, as well as submit all of the necessary documents, along with the recording fee, to FAA. If you need escrow services for money handling, they can assist you with that, too.

AOPA's new Pilot Protection Services (PPS) will help you with your purchase. The Basic PPS ($39/year) includes an hour of legal counsel, which could be used to review your purchase documents - the Plus PPS ($99/year) gives you two hours. Or, you could use your hour or two to have a lawyer review a hangar or tie down lease agreement, or an aircraft  leaseback agreement. Compare that to the going hourly rate for an attorney and you can see the bargain. And, in addition, you have protection in the event of an FAA enforcement action.

You may have several airports relatively close to your home, and if so, you’ll want to research which airport would be best for your base of operation. Will you rent a hangar or a tie-down spot? What about sales and use tax in your state? Give us a call—800-USA-AOPA (872-2672)—if you have questions about what to expect.

Since aircraft purchasing questions are among the most frequently asked by AOPA members, we typically hold a webinar on the topic each year. If you missed the one we held in the spring, you can view the recording online. It covers all of the topics mentioned here.

As an AOPA member, you have tremendous resources available for aircraft purchasing and ongoing ownership. Check them out online or call AOPA, 800-872-2672.