Answers for Pilots: What's that airplane worth?

Vref database provides average cost valuation - free to members

July 1, 2012

Vref - what is that aircraft worth?

Shopping for an aircraft? Find the approximate list price for aircraft that pique your interest with Aircraft Value Reference (Vref), a database providing average cost valuation and aircraft-specific information on every general aviation airplane, free for AOPA members. When you have narrowed your selection to one or two, get a more detailed valuation for those specific aircraft by customizing your search to include equipment and condition.

When you open the program, Step 1 prompts you to choose an aircraft by manufacturer, make, and model. It’s summer—and a great time to fly to those grass strips, so let’s use an Aviat Husky as an example. (We are all wondering who will be the lucky winner of the AOPA 2012 Sweepstakes “Tougher Than a Tornado” Husky to be given away in October at AOPA Aviation Summit in Palm Springs, Cal.). After selecting the aircraft, select the year and model–in this case the choices range from 1987 to 2012 and the corresponding models manufactured in those years.

The next page brings you to performance specifications and engine data. You will need to enter Airframe Total Time (AFTT) and Engine Time Since Major Overhaul (SMOH) if you have it, or leave the default times as they are. You can click to add the non-standard equipment the aircraft may have, and there is a place to manually add equipment that isn’t listed in Vref’s option list. You can search for other aircraft to compare specifications and prices. Easy enough.

Remember, though, the calculated value is average–not specific to a particular aircraft. The condition of the aircraft, as well as other variables, affects the price, sometimes dramatically. For instance, AOPA recently helped a member with an aircraft valuation for a 1983 Beech Bonanza A36, which had a base retail price of $150,000. Calculating the value of the non-listed add-on equipment added $60,000 to the base price.

That member was one of thousands who call AOPA each year for assistance with Vref, particularly for help with estimating the value of a specific aircraft’s equipment. Of course, you can begin the search by yourself, but feel free to call us should you have questions, 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672).