Buying an aircraft: ‘As is’ can cause a lot of pain

April 28, 2013

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Kathy Yodice

Kathy Yodice

  • Attorney, Counsel to AOPA 
  • Former FAA attorney 
  • Has assisted AOPA members for more than 13 years 
  • Pilot since 1994, owns a Cherokee 180 

In aviation, we see many terms. One that I find can often be misunderstood or subject to interpretation and debate is the term “as is,” and it is a term commonly used in aviation sales and lease transactions, whether it’s an airplane, an instrument, or a hangar. In our legal practice, we find that it is almost always after the fact that the import of the term is truly understood by the parties. Therefore, it is important to understand what the term may mean to you before signing on the bottom line.

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In the eyes of the law, the term “as is” means the item is coming to you as you see it, in its present condition, and as it exists, with no implied or expressed representations or guarantees. There is risk in presuming any representation as to the quality or quantity of the goods. Before executing any agreements, take care to have a meeting of the minds as to what is actually being bought or sold. When buying or selling an aircraft, specify in writing what is and is not part of the sale. If it is not obviously a part of the aircraft, and it’s not specifically listed in any agreement, it may not be part of the deal and you will likely have little recourse to reconstruct the deal to include it. Specifically discuss and document what representations have been made and relied upon, including in particular any airworthiness issues. Review the aircraft logbooks carefully but understand that entries in the logbook do not necessarily constitute representations or guarantees from the seller. This is why it is important to uncover any maintenance discrepancies during the pre-purchase inspection. The seller is not likely to be responsible for a dispute over an entry after the sale.

Members of AOPA’s Legal Services Plan/Pilot Protection Services are entitled to the review of an aircraft purchase or sale contract each year. (For basic members, AOPA will pay for one hour of attorney time and two hours at the plus level).

There are many ways that parties to a transaction can protect their interests. Knowing the scope of how the term “as is” applies in a particular transaction is one way to help protect both parties against after-the-fact wrangling.

Kathy Yodice