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Thirty years ago it was unusual for a pre-buy inspection to be accomplished as a part of the aircraft acquisition process. As aircraft get older and as corporations have bought and sold more aircraft, a pre-buy inspection is now the norm, and rightfully so! Since there is a very high degree of financial risk associated with the purchase of an aircraft, it is vital that you select the most effective inspection regime for the dollar amount that you are willing to spend.
Advice is available to you on this subject from a variety of sources: your aircraft broker, the chosen inspection facility, operators of the same aircraft, the OEM, and owner groups, to name just a few. All suitable inspection facilities have an ‘in-house' checklist that they use to provide you with a pre-buy quote and to use while conducting the pre-buy or technical survey. Some checklists are excellent and some are downright pathetic.
It is imperative that know and understand what all of the critical and most important checklist items are for the model of aircraft that you are attempting to buy before you finalize the checklist that is to be used. To start with, the terms Airworthy and Flightworthy are extremely subjective and may be interpreted differently by all. To eliminate any possible conflict later, the pre-buy checklist that you select should include all of the items required by a standard phase or periodic inspection. This ensures that the inspectors at your chosen facility can apply a known standard to their determinations and rulings of Airworthiness.
If this is not possible, then at least demand that the facility compare their checklist to the maintenance schedule for the aircraft to ascertain what scheduled inspection and maintenance items can be cleared and signed off as complied with at after the pre-buy and closing. In many cases it is will only be necessary for you kick in an additional $500 or $1,000 dollars to pay for Lubrication Items only, to get a normal scheduled inspection signed off. Remember, it is normal for a seller to NOT allow any upgrades, modifications or changes to be made to the aircraft until after the transaction is closed.
However, if you are able to orchestrate having an inspection signed off prior to the closing, the seller will be more willing to allow this to occur, than the re-painting of the aircraft or any other more significant change items. Don't be surprised if the seller say's a very definite NO when you request that a C Inspection (due every 72 Months on a Falcon) be signed off as a part of the pre-buy, especially if the aircraft is not actually due for this inspection for another 24 Months or so. The sellers reasoning is that if you don't accept the aircraft and close, you have now put their normal budgeted maintenance schedule out of sequence.
The absolute best way to minimize your risk and exposure during a pre-buy is to hire a professional aircraft broker at the very beginning of the acquisition process. Thus before any aircraft is taken to pre-buy, your broker would have exhaustively searched the market for the specific model that you desire, selected three of the most suitable candidates, compared them and then your broker would have physically gone out to view both the candidate aircraft and their records prior to you making any offers on any aircraft. This ensures that you are buying an aircraft for the very best possible value and that you will have the least problems with it during and after the pre-buy inspection.
It should be the standard modus operandi of the broker that you have selected to represent you, to stay with all aircraft all-through-out the pre-buy inspection process, regardless of whether you are the buyer or the seller. This approach to the acquisition of an aircraft ensures that your interests are always held foremost during this potentially disastrous and expensive process.
We have all been through a Pre-Buy Inspection that has gone down the tubes (myself included, though I won't admit it) and those who read the discussion board want to know more before it happens again. Reply to this discussioin and let others know about your experiences. Good or Bad!