Posts Tagged ‘mechnical’

When Buying a plane what’s a good deal and why?

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Are you ready for a diamond in the rough or a piece of coal you thought was a diamond?

Well maybe my experiences, which by the way help start will help you save some money or let you spend your money for the right things.

I was a first time plane buyer and hopefully like most pilots I did my research.  Now speed, range, payload, roominess; those are all givens which we have made it easy for you to determine what fits your lifestyle or needs, but it is the ‘subjective’ that will really come to haunt you. 

Well I did my research, narrowed it down to a couple of type of aircraft that I wanted and then began searching for airplanes. Now all of us like a good deal and we can see the advantage of a fixer upper. BEWARE it is not just the beauty underneath when you are a novice looking for your first plane to own. It is what is right there in front of you that you may miss that can really be costly!

You can look at three of the same airplane from the same or close to the same years and find that they may differ in price by several thousand dollars. The first reason you probably know is Total Time on the Airframe (TTAF) the second (TBO) Time before overhaul or engine time may be a little less clear and after that it really gets hazy. 

What’s important to you or your wife if you must make the pitch on why this is such a great investment and how it will help in your business and the family can take trips…really is less about knowing how to overhaul and engine, that’s why there are airplane mechanics, and more about the whys and whats.

As they say “paint the right side and put in a new interior and you got a sale!”

I mean hey you get in the door on the right and boy it looks nice and Wow that interior is a 10 and gee this airplane is only a couple of thousand or so more than that other one that looks like it has been flown hard and left on the ramp for years.  Here lies the issue of What matters most. Can you look past the dust or the shine to what truly matters on that future bird of yours?

Here are the basics– First a good solid engine will keep you in the air and a corrosion free airplane will make sure your wings stay on which coincidentally also helps keep you in the air.  After those two what you know about while you are in the air becomes real important and the kind of flying you will be doing will dictate that as well, so Avionics comes in as a top three choice? 

Did you notice the beauty of the paint and the smell of new leather haven’t come up yet?!

Doing your homework maybe easier now with, but knowing what to do with your new found information is ‘a whole nother ball game!’ Okay so back to your dilemma the airplane with nice paint and interior vs the one that doesn’t look so good. 

First off one of the top two things you should be concerned with and incidentally may not be reflected in the price is how many hours are left on that engine? This one factor is directly proportionate to cost or at least it should be or will be something to bargin on. I mean you get a guy who spends $10,000 to $15,000 on an interior he wants to recoup some of that and he/she should be able to, but if it looks great and you have an engine with 1950 hours and it is due to be overhauled at 2000 hours, well guess what you get to spend at least a minimum of $15,000 to $20,000 on a new engine, pretty darn quick on even the most basic plane. So look at the engine estimates and talk to a mechanic and see what an engine will cost on the plane you are looking at buying as well as what an “average annual” might cost on your plane. 

The next item I consider to be a given as it is really the number one item going into your final decision and definitely most always not an easy fix. I am going to make the assumption that you will find a good mechanic who will check all the AD’s (Airworthiness Directives) for the plane and will thoroughly check out the wings, tail and so on to make sure there hasn’t been something causing the plane from a “dry climate” to start corroding because someone forgot to put an access panel screw back in and during the rainy season the wing started to corrode inside, granted it may take a little more than that, but corrosion has to start somewhere.

So on to number two or three depending on how you are counting. These planes all have about the same time on the engine, but there is still dispairity, why? Avionics, they cost a fortune, but when you got good ones in it is definitely worth it! Buy them already installed if you can, this can be the best value you find in buying an airplane. However if the avionics stink or stink for “your kind of expected flying” I am here to tell you most people like their plane (baby) the way it is and think everything about it is great for their flying, maybe not yours and maybe not everything is completely done right, but wait till that first annual and you’ll find out.

“I mean hey buddy I flew it this way for the past 10 years the avionics work fine and the plane is legal and airworthy!”

So know what is good and what you need, do your research here too. Out dated radios-NO you will have to fix that! Autopilot-YES if you plan to fly IFR much you must have one! HSI, Stormscope, GPS, etc. those are up to you depending on why you are buying the plane. It is a whole lot cheaper to buy a plane that is well equipped on avionics and then decide you want to add a large map GPS in the panel than decide gee I need to invest another $25,000-30,000 in avionics to get what I want in this bird, because like that pool you won’t really get it back.

Hopefully my story of my experience I muddied the water for you a little bit or a little bit more.  As our forums expand you can find mechanics, feed back on mechanics and much that will probably help, if you have input or experiences, sign up and blog it here or join in a discussion in or forums section.