Steps to Aircraft Ownership

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Aircraft ownership might seem like a dream for the average pilot, but those who have gone through it know that buying an airplane can be a real nightmare! Here are a few tips to help you navigate your way through the aircraft buying process.

Determine Your Budget

First and foremost, you’ll want to determine a budget to stick to. It’s extremely easy to overspend and there will likely be costs that arise that you didn’t plan for. The best thing to do is create a spreadsheet of your own or use an online cost calculator. Members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association can access a reliable cost calculator on www.aopa.org.As you may know, there’s more to aircraft cost than just the purchase price of the airplane itself. You’ll need to purchase an insurance policy, hangar or tie-down rental, fuel, oil, parts and maintenance. And don’t forget the accessories: Passenger headsets and engine covers might seem inexpensive, but these costs add up quickly.

Know What You Need (Not What You Want)

Are you a weekend pilot or a business pilot? Do you fly mostly fair-weather flights in the local area, or do you log hours on long cross country flights in instrument meteorological conditions? The type of flying you do will largely determine what kind of airplane you will need and what features and capabilities it will need to have.

Every pilot wants a brand new technologically advanced airplane with a great paint job, a high cruise speed, and the latest GPS. But a private pilot that flies a few hours on the weekend won’t see the benefits of higher horsepower and retractable gear. Instead, buying a fast, complex airplane just means a higher price tag (and more costly insurance premiums) for the same type of flying. On the other hand, a business pilot, flying cross country three days a week might find it beneficial to invest in a complex or turbocharged airplane to save time and carry more passengers or cargo.

Get Pre-Approved Financing

If you’re a serious buyer, you may want to get a pre-approved loan from the bank. If you choose to do so, you will likely be approved for a certain amount of money and for a specific class aircraft. Of course, it’s helpful to know your budget and what type of airplane you’re looking for in this case.

You’ll show a seller that you’re serious when you show up with the financial situationalready take care of. The seller will probably be more interested in working with you and you’ll have peace of mind knowing you will be able to follow through. As a bonus, pre-approval should speed up the closing process.



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