Maintenance Does Matter »

With the average GA airplane now in its thirties, it's hardly surprising that more and more sales of used aircraft are being roadblocked by disputes over maintenance discrepancies that show up during the pre-purchase inspection. Professional aircraft appraiser Brian Jacobson warns sellers to stay on top of the maintenance of their aircraft, and not to let the repair of seemingly inconsequential or cosmetic squawks slip, lest they create an obstacle to sale of the aircraft. As for buyers, Jacobson advises demanding an appropriate price reduction to compensate for squawks that show up during the pre-purchase and, if the seller doesn't agree, just walking away from the deal. More

Prepurchase Inspections Revisited »

You've found the aircraft of your dreams and are ready to buy if it survives the prepurchase inspection. But how extensive does that inspection really need to be —a quick once-over by the A&P, a full annual inspection, or something in between? Who should do the inspection? How much should it cost? If squawks are uncovered, who will pay to fix them? AVweb's Brian Jacobson answers these and other questions that buyers often ask. More

How Much Will It Cost to Fly? »

When scanning the pages of Trade-A-Plane looking for an airplane to buy, don't be seduced by the seemingly bargain prices on older-model aircraft, particularly twins and high-performance singles. The purchase price doesn't matter if you can't afford to fly the thing. Gene Unterman who has bought and sold thousands of aircraft offers an easy rule-of-thumb for estimating operating cost based on just two variables: fuel burn and age. It might help you to avoid buying a money pit. More

Aircraft Makeover »

Thinking about buying a cheap "fixer-upper" and sprucing it up with new paint and interior, and maybe some fancy new state-of-the-art avionics? That might not be such a smart move, warns AVweb's Brian Jacobson, because only a fraction of what you invest in such a refurbishment project will be reflected in higher market value. Unless you're sure you'll be keeping the aircraft for the next decade, says Jacobson, you'll almost always be better off paying a higher price for one that meets your needs without major upgrades. More

Before You Buy, Get It Appraised! »

Not many people would be dumb enough to buy a used airplane without getting a pre-purchase inspection done first. But it's disturbingly common for airplanes to be bought and sold without the benefit of a professional appraisal. An AVweb contributing editor (who happens to be a seasoned appraiser himself) explains why relying on a do-it-yourself aircraft valuation can come back to bite you. More

Ask the Appraiser »

As a professional aircraft appraiser and moderator of Trade-A-Plane's online "Ask The Appraiser" forum, AVweb contributing editor Brian Jacobson receives hundreds of questions from pilots contemplating the purchase of an aircraft. In this article, Brian offers expert answers to some of the most frequently-asked questions he's received from prospective buyers. More

Lessons Learned the Hard Way: How Not to Buy a Used Aircraft »

AVweb reader Lee L. Schroeder is a 3500-hour pilot and experienced aircraft owner who has bought and sold a number of airplanes. Nevertheless, Schroder's recent purchase of a 1968 Beechcraft Baron turned into an absolute nightmare involving allegations of misrepresentation and fraud, lawyers, tens of thousands of dollars in nasty surprises, months of unplanned downtime, and even a threatened enforcement action against Schroeder by the FAA! Dr. Schroeder offers a play-by-play of how this mess transpired and the lessons he learned the hard way. More

What Should You Pay for That Aircraft? »

Buying an aircraft is not like buying a house or an automobile, and establishing a fair price can get rather tricky. For instance, how does damage history affect market value, particularly if it has been properly repaired? What about a recent paint job whose design or color scheme is ugly? Or an interior that, while in excellent condition, looks as dated as a '57 Chevy? AVweb's expert on aircraft appraisal tackles these and other tough questions in this illuminating article. More

Using Your Airplane for Charter »

It might sound like a great idea for generating revenue with your airplane when you're not using it for business or pleasure. But the requirements of Part 135 are so complicated and demanding nowadays that by the time you learn what's involved, you might wish you hadn't asked. AVweb's Brian Jacobson takes you for a quick tour of the FAA's Air Taxi regulations. More

Is a Leaseback Good for You? »

First-time airplane purchasers are often tempted to offset the high cost of aircraft ownership by leasing their airplane back to an FBO, flight school, or charter operator. Such leaseback arrangements typically look great on paper, but are fraught with pitfalls for the unwary aircraft owner. An expert explains how to avoid getting stung by doing your homework. More