Already a member? Please login below for an enhanced experience. Not a member? Join today
We will be performing maintenance on our systems Sunday 9/19 from 12am to 6am ET. During this time, you may experience intermittent service outages. We appreciate your patience.

Why a Pre-Purchase Inspection is Crucial

Peace of Mind & No Surprises

You’re so close to making that airplane your own. You’ve spent hours of research, lined up your financing, and rented the hangar. Your airplane buddies are back home waiting for you to arrive with your new airplane. You’ve flown the aircraft, with the previous owner and alone. You’ve travelled several hundred miles to the seller’s airport. You’re so close to the deal. You want to take your new baby home, not wait a week or more for an inspection. Plus, you’ve spent enough money as it is. You trust the seller so maybe it would be safe in this case to forgo an inspection. Right?

Wrong! Avoiding a pre-purchase inspection could be one of the worst – and most costly – decisions you’ll ever make. Once the deal is done, you will likely be unsuccessful to do anything about a mechanical problem that you hadn’t known about. Corrosion could be eating this airplane alive and once you buy it, it’s your problem, not the seller’s.

So, as anxious as you are to start flying your “new” airplane, you must take the time, and spend the money, to have a pre-purchase inspection. Of course, you know the make and model of the airplane you’re buying, but a pre-purchase inspection will give you findings and recommendations so you can make that last informed decision about whether this particular airplane is the right buy at the price you’re paying. Remember that the average age of a GA airplane is 30 years, and a lot can happen to an airplane in that time.

As the buyer of the aircraft, you have the right to have an inspection done. If the seller tries to discourage you away from an inspection, that should be a red flag waving in your face. Same with who does the inspection. The seller’s own mechanic or the seller’s own shop is not going to be on your side. You wouldn’t use the same lawyer as your opposition, and it’s the same philosophy here. The seller could be an Eagle Scout, 100% honest and trustworthy, but even the seller may not know mechanical problems that have developed since the airplane’s last annual. Use your own mechanic and give your mechanic detailed instructions as to what you want. 

Before your mechanic even gets to the airplane inspection, they will conduct a thorough examination of the airplane’s paperwork. That includes a valid airworthiness certificate, aircraft registration, pilot’s operating handbook, maintenance logs for the engine and the airframe, and proof of compliance with airworthiness directives. Be sure to have this paperwork ready in advance. Reconstructing any of these is costly in terms of time or money so you want to have a neat stack of all appropriate documents.

Then your mechanic will spend time doing a thorough inspection of the airplane – from the engine to the empennage. Details get down to seat tracks and seatbelts. AOPA has prepared a checklist of items that should be examined which you can share with your mechanic. This checklist is yours to use by clicking here..

The results of a pre-purchase inspection could lower the price of the airplane. If your mechanic finds a problem, the cost of fixing that problem might be deducted from the purchase price. It’s all negotiable. And what if your mechanic gives your new airplane a clean bill of health? Even though you’ve spent time and money, that’s the best possible scenario. Now you have peace of mind that there should be no surprises as you fly and enjoy your new purchase.

Are you considering aircraft ownership? If so, AOPA Aviation Finance wants to make your purchase experience as smooth as possible. For information about aircraft financing, please visit us at or call 800.62.PLANE (75263).

AOPA Member Products staff

AOPA Member Benefits Staff members takes great care to ensure every product we provide is valuable, relevant, and in the best interests of our members.
Topics: AOPA Aviation Finance Company, Financing, AOPA Products and Services

Related Articles