Aviation Articles

Getting a great deal when you buy aircraft

November 9, 2015


Great aircraft deals




“I’m looking for a really great deal.

Can you send me any aggressively priced aircraft in good condition that meet my specific make, model, avionics, and equipment needs?”


We have received thousands of inquiries from potential aircraft buyers over the years. Without a doubt, one of the most common statements we hear is “I’m looking for a great deal.”

Can we help you find a great deal? Absolutely. Will it be the great deal you envisioned? That depends.

To help you find the “great deal” you’re looking for, we need to better understand what you’re hoping to achieve. For example, are you looking to buy the plane that meets your travel needs with the lowest cost of ownership over a set period of time? Or, are you looking for a bargain on a perfectly pristine aircraft with very specific avionics, equipment, maintenance history, and more?

Here is what we see: good deals are out there, but you will rarely find the plane you really want priced well under the market with the avionics, paint scheme, maintenance history, and more that you are looking for.

Reasons include:

1. Modern technology has opened up a worldwide market. 

Gone are the days when aircraft stayed at the same airfield their entire lives. In a matter of minutes, we can post a plane for sale that will be seen online by thousands of aircraft buyers and dealers.

The advantage of marketing planes online is simply too powerful for sellers to ignore, and any dealers who are not openly advertising “great deals” on aircraft are only doing so to benefit themselves.

2. If you think it’s a great deal, so will everyone else.

If you look at an aircraft listing and say “wow, this looks like a really good deal,” we can guarantee that several other aircraft buyers are thinking the exact same thing. That “really good deal” will probably be under contract within hours of being posted, so you need to act fast.

Landing a great deal on the plane you want requires more time than most people realize. You’re also competing with dealers, who actively monitor the markets daily and rearrange other commitments quickly when a good deal surfaces.

Buyers who are able to snag the plane they want below market value often find themselves jumping through additional hoops, as the selling party becomes the “customer” who needs to be served. This can result in the buyer trying to make everything easy for the seller and taking on extra costs, unexpected risks, and shortened timeframes.

3. There might be a good reason it’s priced so low.

What looks like a good deal on the surface may end up costing more than you realize after you get it under contract. Damage history, missing logbook entries, corrosion, and below average condition (cosmetic or mechanical) can make a significant impact on the value of an aircraft. Regrettably, many sellers display only a handful of photos and very little supportive information in their online listings, leaving buyers to find out for themselves why the plane is priced so low.

Because the buyer is typically responsible for many costs associated with pre-purchase inspections, it is wise to review as much information as possible prior to making an offer. Look for: complete logbooks; high quality photos of the exterior, interior and panel; video footage showing the condition of the plane’s surfaces; and detailed, accurate aircraft specifications.

4. Off-market deals are not always great deals.

A small percentage of aircraft do not hit the open market. Instead, they get sold to a friend, family member, or other local individual. A personal relationship can lead to a good deal, but it is very rare to find the aircraft you want being sold off-market by someone you know.

On occasion, we have seen deals between acquaintances where the buyer trusts the other party and believes they are getting a great deal, but they end up overpaying for a plane without doing their due diligence. Without a proper pre-buy inspection, title search, or understanding of the aircraft’s true market value, buyers can take on unexpected lien issues, maintenance problems, and other financial woes.

5. A great deal on a great aircraft might involve paying full market value.

If your goal is to buy the plane you actually want to own (with your desired avionics, equipment, condition, and timing), your “great deal” will very likely involve a transaction at or around full market value.

Nobody ever calls us and says “I want to overpay for an airplane.” And conversely, most sellers don’t want to give their planes away. Most of the time, a good deal is a deal that is fair to both the buyer and seller.

A great deal is really a matter of perception. Are you more interested in finding the right price or the right plane? A plane that meets your business and personal needs, falls within your budget, and is enjoyable for you to fly might be an excellent deal for you, even if you are not able to purchase it well below the market.


Want a little help finding your next aircraft?

We’d love to hear from you! Contact us today by calling 402-475-6000 or emailing aircraft@flyperformance.com.


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