SPONSORED CONTENT — Steve Pope, an aircraft sales counselor at Raleigh, NC-based Lifestyle Aviation, is a man who knows his market. He and his colleagues have eschewed the lower rungs of the used- and new-aircraft market to focus on what he likes to call “the modern side of aviation.”
“We don’t typically put customers into aircraft that aren’t new or at least newer,” Pope says. “We won’t normally list anything that’s older than, say, the year 2000. And it must have an updated panel.”
His company is the largest dealer of new Diamond aircraft in the world, and they also represent sellers of other high-end piston aircraft and turboprops like the TBM 900 series or the Pilatus PC-12. They just took in a Cessna M2, at $5.5 million, still the low end of the vaunted CJ line. Like its CJ cousins, the M2 is rated for single-pilot operation, joining the Honda Jet, the Phenoms, the Eclipses, and Cirrus Vision Jet to be so designated.
Pope and company are therefore concentrating on the leading edge of general aviation, but they are also attracting a different kind of buyer—and here’s where it gets interesting.
“Surprisingly, we have a really high number of brand-new pilots entering this market. They are in their mid-40s or mid-50s, they have done well professionally, and when COVID hit, it started to drive these people toward general aviation,” Pope says. “They needed a personal mobility solution.” This category of pilot is ready to absorb every piece of aviation information they can get their hands on, including the news and features available each weekday morning in AVweb.com five-times weekly e-letter Flash.
Pope, who is the former editor-in-chief of Flying Magazine, says that easily 50 percent of his clientele are brand-new students, or they’ve just cleared the PPL hurdle. “They have an intense passion for aviation,” he says. “Our purpose is to help these people reach their goals. They have been dreaming about becoming a pilot. And now is the time.”
Lifestyle Aviation advises on everything from where to keep that new acquisition—be it a Diamond DA40 NG, DA50, DA42 or DA62, or a G5 or G6 Cirrus—to selecting an aircraft that suits the new, low-time but professionally accomplished owner. The company helps with financing and insurance, leads the charge on training through its network of partner flight schools, and helps fit the pilot-owner into this modern aviation ecosystem.
Pope finds the Diamond line is a perfect match for the new pilot who fits this profile. “The stall-spin resistant wing and other safety features on a Diamond are important selling points, and when our pilots get a bit more experience, they find hand-flying a Diamond is very satisfying.” Pope also offers a nod to late-model Cirruses for this new crop of buyers, but he stresses the importance of flying the airplane the Cirrus way, with a vigilant eye on airspeed, especially in the traffic pattern.
Regardless of one’s financial resources, everyone is always interested in price, and market trajectory. “In March of 2020, things got very quiet as the stock market dropped and lockdowns took effect,” Pope says. “But the phones started ringing in April of that year and they haven’t stopped. New or emerging pilots with families were asking about the Diamond DA62. There was a lot of interest from flight schools. By June we needed more airplanes in our sales inventory.”
Demand caused prices to increase and backlogs to stretch. It also meant owners with a high-end, high-tech airplane to sell might see offers that exceeded their original purchase price, Pope says.
“Airplanes in this category are now highly sought after and prices are not really softening,” he says. “We are seeing that right up the line into Cessna Citations.”
So, if you are a seller of a modern airplane with a glass panel, expect your steed to sell quickly and for a handsome premium. Consider listing it on classifieds.avweb.com, where you’ll find buyers with the passion, the inquisitiveness, the drive and the resources to make aviation an important pillar of their lifestyle.
The classified system goes live at the end of June, but AVweb is taking early listers now. The first two-months are free, and the clock starts June 30. If you’re a broker with multiple listings (each one also gets two months free) contact AVweb publisher Tom Bliss ([email protected]).