When a Deal Gets Technical

Do you have the Resources?
Jim Odenwaldt of Elliott Aviation, Aircraft Sales Manager

As aircraft brokers, we represent both buyers and sellers and it is common to be tasked with finding a fair resolution on a technical issue while in the middle of a deal. For the most part, in today’s economy, the prebuy inspection can be difficult to manage. During the prebuy, technically referred to as a survey, the buyer must specifically request inspections deemed important. In recent years, the typical prebuy has become a full inspection (I-V, A-G, etc.) and engine bore scope inspections. It is commonplace for an airplane to have had a recent major inspection, completed by the seller per the normal hourly/calendar schedule, and a buyer’s prebuy, repeating the inspection at a new facility.

If this is the case, the seller is usually comfortable with the request since the buyer is paying the flat rate. I always stress, no matter how recent the previous inspection, the prebuy will reveal a new list of un-airworthy items. Although maintenance teams all use the same guidelines and the system is highly standardized, some issues are subjective. In addition, the airplane is in a new shop, being inspected by a whole new set of eyes. The service center may also have a new motivation…a new customer. In any event, the airplane will be subject to special scrutiny. As a broker, it is essential to manage this part of the deal objectively. This often takes substantial technical resources.

A major value of a highly experienced broker is that they will work through every minute detail on a squawk list. These can be high dollar items and resolution can be highly technical. Is the blade sulfidation stage 3? Is that inlet screen corroded? Is that skin gouge beyond 10%? Is that windshield really un-airworthy? It should come down to what is allowable according to the tolerances. Most of the time, I call in the help of an objective specialist. This is typically a technician who is assigned by the manufacture of the particular component in question or a third party engineer and they are required to document their findings. This will dictate our course of action and keep the sale moving forward.

Brokers, shops and pilots alike all want to deliver a perfect airplane to the buyer. Ideally, the airplane will fly along to the next scheduled inspection with no squawks. This makes happy customers who stay in our industry and buy more airplanes. An ownership experience starts with a prebuy for a buyer and also serves as the end for a seller. It is our job to manage this process efficiently and equitably.

Jim Odenwaldt has extensive flying and technical experience with all Beechcraft products and sales expertise with all models of Hawker/Beech, Citation and Gulfstream. After graduating from Embry-Riddle in 1989, Jim worked as a CFI and maintenance technician. While with American Beechcraft Company, he was responsible for aircraft sales in the mid-Atlantic region. In addition to his ATP, Jim is an A&P and type rated in the Beechcraft Premier.

Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA).