8 Top Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Plane
Buying a plane is a huge decision. To some it might even be daunting once they realize the amount of viewing and test flying and paperwork involved. You have a lot to consider from operating costs, maintenance requirements, storage and insurance. And especially if you’re a first-time buyer it is important that you take the time to investigate the process, learn about the market and ask A LOT of questions. But in efforts to make that decision a little less stressful, we’ve compiled a list of the 8 most important questions to ask yourself before you purchase a plane (new OR used).
- What’s your budget?
This might seem self-explanatory. but first time buyers especially should take a detailed look at their budget. You might think that you can afford that expensive airplane, but there are many hidden costs associated with aircraft ownership that you might not be considering. You’ll need to think about the loan payment, insurance, maintenance, operating costs, hangar or tie down fees, and other surprise costs that might occur out of your control like mandated avionics upgrades.
- What kind of plane are you able to fly safely?
There is something really enticing about a bigger, faster airplane, but it’s important to consider the types of planes that you have experience flying. Look at airplanes that you’re comfortable flying safely and with features that are currently within your skill-set. Even a slightly more powerful engine, or just a slightly larger airplane can handle much differently than their smaller counterparts, and avionics that are more advanced can make you feel like a caveman really quickly if you’re not careful. Buying a plane that you’re not familiar with can lead to buyers remorse, or a dangerous situation.
- What’s the purpose of the airplane?
What are your reasons for buying an airplane in the first place? What kind of aircraft is the best for your specific needs? If you take a really close look at what you’re wanting in an aircraft, you might find that the aircraft you had your eye on might not be the best fit. If your main focus is local weekend joyrides, then a powerful engine with top of the line avionics might be ovwerkill. If you travel long distances for business or even pleasure, a speedy aircraft with retractable gear might suit you better. You’ll want to avoid buying an aircraft based solely on emotions or ideals. Just because it has a powerful engine and advanced gear, doesn’t make it the best aircraft for you!
- How much will it cost to insure this aircraft?
Insurance is multi-faceted. Buying aircraft insurance isn’t as easy or affordable as buying car insurance. Make sure you’re aware of the possible insurance costs before you start looking into air planes to purchase. It’s not great fun to to buy your dream plane the company requires you to attend expensive training classes and gather a certain amount of instructional hours in your new plane. only to learn that insurance will be double what you initially thought it would be. And that’s after. These are to be expected, but they can be nasty surprises if you’re not prepared prior to purchasing.
- Have you considered storage options?
Are you planning on purchasing or building a hangar? Would you rent a hangar from the airport? Does your local airport even have hangar space available? Do you have a back-up plan in place in case your hangar owner decides not to renew your lease? You’ll definitely want to make sure you have storage figured out before you buy the plane, and you’ll need to budget for those costs.
- Who provide maintenance?
Choosing a provider for your aircraft maintenance is probably the most important decision you’ll make as a new aircraft owner. But you want to make sure that you have this figured out before you make your purchase. Finding a trusted mechanic that you can depend on will save you money in the long run. A great mechanic will help you with pre-purchase inspections and will be able to provide you with some suggestions for a plane that will suit you. And after the purchase, your mechanic will need to be your go-to person for providing maintenance in accordance with the FAA and manufacturers standards. Norfolk Aviation can be your one-stop shop for your purchase AND maintenance. We have an Aircraft and Power Plant technician on staff who can assist you with all your maintenance needs.
- What kind of avionics will you need?
Knowing what kind of technology you’ll need is a very important part of the aircraft buying process. Make sure you know what is absolutely necessary for your flying needs, which functions or features you’re willing to sacrifice and how much you can expect to spend on conveniences and other technologies. You might be able to look at older aircrafts with avionics that are not the most state-of-the-art if most of your flying is done in uncontrolled airspace or really great weather. However, if you frequently fly in Class B airspace, or mostly on IFR flight plans, you’ll definitely want to invest in updated and modern avionics.
- What is the resale value of the plane you’re considering?
You’ve heard the term, “Nothing lasts forever,” and if this is your first aircraft, there will likely come a time when you’re ready for an upgrade. If you do some basic research about your ideal aircraft make and model, you’ll be able to determine your ability to easily sell it when you that time comes. You need to know if there are any known mechanical problems for that particular make or model. Will the avionics still be relevant in 10 or 15 years? Is there a complete and accurate logbook? Has the aircraft been well-maintained?
There a many factors that go into purchasing a plane, and that is why its important to make your purchase through a trusted and reputable company like Norfolk Aviation. Our full time sales team is ready to help you answer the questions above. And once you’ve made your purchase, we’re here to make sure your aircraft’s maintenance is completely taken care of. Call us today for a no strings attached consultation!