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By Mike Saathoff – Director of Estimating and Paint and Interior Sales
Whether you are buying or selling an aircraft, a pre-buy can be a hassle; but it shouldn’t be if you secure a solid, non-biased MRO. Just as you would when you buy or sell a house, pre-buy inspections are a must to protect both parties in the transaction. There are a few key items to help make the process smoother. Whether you are the broker, buyer, or the seller, keeping the sale moving forward is important. Paperwork, airworthiness, scheduled items and coming to an agreement are all part of the pre-buy process. Let’s discuss these key items and how to keep all parties in mind.
Choosing a Broker:
Be selective and do your research when choosing an aircraft broker. Do they have integrity? Can you trust them? Will they have your best interest in mind? Find a broker you are comfortable with and one you can trust. Look for someone with experience and knowledge of aircraft sales. This person should be able to see all sides and assists you with the best possible outcome.
Choosing a Maintenance Provider:
Ensure the facility that is performing the pre-buy inspection or any facility that maintains the aircraft has industry longevity, as well as experience in executing pre-buys for the type of aircraft you are purchasing. Make sure the facility has a history of working on the aircraft model. As a buyer or seller, competitive pricing plays a role in your pre-buy inspection. Always keep in mind that cheaper doesn’t always mean you are getting a deal. Make sure the facility you are working with is using solid quality standards to ensure they are keeping the aircraft airworthy but not going to extremes. Either extreme can be very costly to the buyer or seller. Trust in a company to do a thorough inspection in an acceptable downtime is key.
The Pre-Buy Inspection:
Keep the sale moving. To ensure a sale continues to move forward, reviewing logbooks is a meticulous effort. Having all necessary paperwork in order can help the process along and is highly beneficial. Knowing who maintained the aircraft, if the aircraft always stayed on schedule, how many hours the aircraft has flown per year, and has the aircraft sat idle or extended periods of time are all questions a pre-buy inspection addresses, and this helps to ensure airworthiness.
Other items to be completed during a pre-buy are any scheduled maintenance events. Next, the facility needs to determine if there are burn certificates for the interior, if new paint is due, if the aircraft is on a current inspection program; these are all questions that must be answered. If the current warranty allows, a thorough engine review is done both on paperwork and a boroscope. The facility should conduct an external review of the aircraft for any obvious defects, specifically windows and boots. Brake wear checks and fuel tank external leak checks are other items performed.
Most importantly, you want to find a non-biased facility who will ensure the aircraft is properly inspected and repaired in accordance with maintenance standards, but not one looking to “rebuild” the aircraft.
Lastly, it is up to the buyer and seller to come to terms on an agreement of who should pay for what necessary or optional items. A solid, non-bias broker will be highly beneficial in this process and assist with maintaining what would be fair to all parties.
Mike Saathoff has been with Elliott Aviation since July of 1996. He has performed various roles within the company, including Maintenance Team Leader, Assistant Chief Inspector, Maintenance Sales Manager, Director of Maintenance Sales and most recently Senior Director of Sales. Mike Saathoff is currently our Director of Sales Support and Paint & Interior Sales.