Sky Aircraft Maintenance

The Ultimate Aircraft Pre Buy Inspection Guide

If you are thinking of buying an aircraft, be sure and read this aircraft pre buy inspection guide first to be better prepared for your purchase!

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    Uncovering Hidden Problems Before You Buy

    Regardless of your expertise, purchasing an aircraft can be a daunting process. From scouting the right jet to obtaining financing and making an offer, owning a plane entails complex steps that are often time-consuming. One critical stage in the journey is conducting a thorough Pre-Purchase or Pre-Buy Inspection on your desired aircraft; this assessment will uncover any covert issues related to its value or safety while offering assurance that you’re investing in quality machinery!

    What is a Pre-Purchase Inspection?

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    Pre-purchase aircraft inspections involve a comprehensive examination of an aircraft to assess its current condition and determine any pre-existing issues such as previous damage, probable maintenance problems, and airworthiness directives.

    Depending on the complexity and age of the aircraft, pre-purchase inspections may include airframe inspection, engine logbook review, structural evaluation, corrosion checkup, systems and instrument analysis, preflight test flight performed by a qualified pilot, and more.

    All findings from the pre-purchase inspection must be documented in an aircraft pre-purchase inspection report, which serves as an official reference for the buyer, seller, and other stakeholders.

    When Do You Need an Aircraft Pre Buy Inspection?

    Every aircraft owner thinks their plane is in pristine condition, that’s why pre-purchase inspections are critical for aircraft buyers when purchasing any type of aircraft – whether it’s an Experimental Aircraft (EAB), Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), or a private jet for sale. If the pre-purchase inspection is not performed before purchase, you’ll be blind to pre-existing issues that may affect the aircraft’s value and/or safety; this knowledge enables you to negotiate an equitable price with the seller and make an informed decision regarding its purchase.

    Though pre-purchase inspections can add costs to your overall investment in owning a plane, they are well worth the peace of mind of knowing that it will arrive safely and perform as expected. Make sure to invest in pre-purchase inspections when shopping for your next aircraft!

    The Benefits of Pre-Purchase Inspections

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    The goal of these inspections is to determine the condition of the aircraft and to identify any issues that may affect its value or safety. Pre-purchase inspections offer buyers several advantages that assist them in making a more informed decision regarding their aircraft purchase.

    Firstly, pre-purchase inspections provide buyers with an in-depth evaluation of the aircraft’s current condition and any pre-existing issues that may affect its value or safety. These findings serve as an important negotiating tool for the buyer to establish an equitable offer with the seller.

    In addition, pre-purchase inspections help to eliminate buyer regret down the line when they are not made aware of pre-existing conditions that could have been prevented had they known prior to purchasing the plane.

    Let’s sum up the benefits of a Pre-Buy Inspection:

    1. They provide an in-depth analysis of the aircraft’s current and pre-existing issues revealing its true value, safety, and reliability
    2. It’s a negotiating tool
    3. No regrets!

    Pre-purchase aircraft inspections provide an invaluable service by uncovering pre-existing issues that may otherwise remain hidden and unknowable until after purchase. Invest in pre-purchase inspections before you buy a plane to ensure quality machinery and optimal performance!

    Consider The Purpose Of Your Pre-Buy Inspection

    When choosing to perform a pre-buy inspection, the best way for a prospective buyer is to think about the why or the purpose of this inspection. Many of us get caught up in the small things and they become chicken feed and distract us from the big-ticket items.

    The purpose or reason for the pre-buy may also determine the cost of it. Depending on the scope of research you want to be done, will depict the timeframe, work that goes into it, and costs associated. There are those that may have a mechanical background and decide that they only need a quick inspection done on the structural assets. Or there are those that have no idea what they are getting into, so they decide to do a full-blown inspection.

    You may request guidance from a prebuy manager or your sales advisor.

    Tasks Involved In Pre-Purchase Aircraft Evaluations

    Aircraft Inspection

    An aircraft pre-buy inspection is performed by a qualified aircraft inspector and consists of several steps.

    Some of the important things and tasks involved include:

    • Physical Inspection
    • Log books Review
    • Flight Test
    • Systems and Components Testing
    • Evaluation Report
    • Other Documentation

    To truly comprehend the dimension of an inspection, let’s examine what is entailed in each task.

    Physical & Airframe Inspections

    A thorough physical inspection of the aircraft is performed to identify any visible signs of a leak, wear and tear, corrosion, damage, or maintenance issues. This includes inspecting the airframe, fuselage, fuel tank, landing gear, engines, systems, and components to check for any signs of damage or wear.

    Some of the things that will appear on the physical inspections are any pre-existing corrosion, dents or damages to the exterior of the aircraft. Any areas that have been repaired or replaced will be noted as well. The inspection also includes checking for any indications of water damage and signs of structural fatigue. For private jets, additional attention is given to the interior components such as seating, carpets, and fixtures.

    Aviation Log Books Review

    A logbook is an important document that provides a detailed record of an aircraft’s history, maintenance history, damage history, upgrades, and flight activity. Logbooks can span decades and help pre-purchase inspectors assess the airworthiness of an aircraft.

    Logbooks contain pertinent information about the aircraft such as the total time in service, total flight hours, any major maintenance or repair work that has been performed, and other records related to the aircraft’s operational history. Reviewing logbooks is an essential pre-purchase inspection task because they provide inspectors with detailed information about the aircraft’s condition and performance.

    For pre-purchase inspections of private jets, logbook reviews are especially important since these aircraft often have complex operating histories. By carefully reviewing all available logbook entries, inspectors can gain a better understanding of the aircraft’s condition and determine if there are any issues that should be addressed prior to purchase. Additionally, logbook reviews help purchase inspectors identify safety concerns that may not be evident from a visual inspection alone.

    If the inspector cannot find or gain access to the aircraft’s logbook, then this can have a direct impact on both the cost and safety of the aircraft. Without being able to review the history of repairs and overhauls, it is difficult for purchase inspectors to determine whether any potential issues have been addressed or need to be addressed. As a result, purchase inspectors may find it necessary to perform additional inspections and evaluations to ensure the aircraft is safe for operation and that no major repairs or modifications are needed.

    The lack of records can also have an impact on the reputation of both the owner and the aircraft. If potential buyers know that the aircraft pre-buy inspection was unable to access the aircraft’s maintenance records, they may be hesitant to purchase it. It leads to questions such as “What else did the owner not maintain?” or “Are they not disclosing something?” This could lead to a decrease in confidence in the deal and the value of the aircraft.

    It is therefore important that pre-purchase aviation consultant or inspector is able to locate and gain access to an aircraft’s logbooks in order to provide an accurate evaluation of the aircraft’s condition and safety.

    Airworthiness Flight Test

    A flight test is performed to evaluate the aircraft’s airworthiness, handling, performance, and systems. This includes checking the aircraft’s handling, engine performance, and systems such as navigation, communication, and avionics.

    On the pre-purchase aircraft flight test, the inspector will assess various performance aspects of the aircraft, such as its responsiveness to control inputs, engine power and fuel efficiency, speed and climb rate, range, and maneuverability. The inspector will also evaluate the aircraft’s systems for proper operation, including navigation equipment such as GPS and radio systems, autopilot and auto-throttle systems, avionics, and any other instrumentation. The inspector will also check for any pre-existing issues that may affect the safety or performance of the aircraft.

    For private jet pre-purchase inspections, the flight test should always be performed by a qualified pilot who is certified to fly the specific make and model of aircraft. This will ensure that the pre buy inspection is thorough and that any issues are identified before the purchase is complete. The flight test should also be conducted under ideal conditions, such as calm winds so that the inspector can get a true evaluation of the aircraft’s performance.

    Flight tests are one of the most important pre-purchase aircraft inspections and should be conducted carefully to ensure that the aircraft is safe and reliable. By conducting a pre buy inspection, potential buyers can have peace of mind knowing that their private jet purchase is in the best condition it can possibly be.

    Avionics Systems and Components Testing

    Specific systems and components may be tested by specialists. For example, an avionics specialist may test the navigation systems, while an engine specialist may perform a compression check on the engines.

    It is important to have a system and components testing completed by specialists for pre buy aircraft inspections because it ensures that the aircraft is in safe, airworthy condition. This type of testing helps identify any potential issues before they become more costly or dangerous problems down the road.

    By having a specialist perform the testing, the inspector can rest assured that the tests were performed correctly and that if any issues arise, they will be handled accordingly. Additionally, specialists are usually experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to areas such as avionics or engines, so they are able to accurately identify and diagnose any mechanical or operational defects in an aircraft. This lets potential buyers know exactly what they’re getting into when buying a pre-owned private jet.

    Evaluation Report

    After the inspection is completed, a comprehensive evaluation report is generated that includes a summary of the aircraft’s condition, any issues that were identified, and any recommendations for repairs or maintenance.

    The pre-purchase aircraft evaluation report is typically submitted electronically to the client in a PDF format. This ensures that the report is securely transmitted and easy to access by all involved parties. Additionally, the report is generally accompanied by a detailed analysis of any discrepancies or issues that were identified during the inspection.

    The pre-purchase aircraft evaluation report will also include a comprehensive assessment of the aircraft’s condition. This includes an examination of the exterior and interior components, as well as any structural integrity tests that may have been performed. The inspector will also provide detailed descriptions of any major or minor repairs that may be needed and their estimated cost of repair. Furthermore, if there are any safety concerns, these should be listed and discussed in detail with the potential buyer prior to closing on the purchase agreement.

    In addition to providing a detailed summary of findings from pre-purchase inspections, sometimes an aircraft inspection report will also include a list of recommendations for further maintenance or repair work that may need to be completed before flying begins. This can include suggestions for replacing certain parts or systems due to age, wear and tear, or general negligence; verifying airworthiness documents; performing scheduled maintenance checks; replacing fuel filters; and much more.

    Finally, pre buy aircraft inspections typically involve an extensive review process before they are finalized and submitted. During this stage, all findings are reviewed by specialized inspectors who must approve them before they become part of the official pre-purchase aircraft evaluation report. Once this process is complete, then it can be safely assumed that the pre-purchase aircraft evaluation has been properly conducted, adhering to industry standards, and providing reliable information about the condition of the private jet being purchased.

    What To Do & What Not To Do

    Aircraft Pre Purchase Inspection

    There are things that you should and should not do when it comes to your pre buy inspection. 

    Some of these items may seem obvious, however, sometimes our emotions get the best of us and we tend to leave small details out. 

    Store these do’s and dont’s in your memory so that if anything arises, you are familiar with what to do (or not to do).

    DO NOT use a mechanic or facility that has any previous relation to the aircraft or even the seller

    Do not use the mechanic or maintenance facility that is currently maintaining the aircraft to perform the pre buy inspection. You want the inspector to be unbiased. If they are currently signing off on the maintenance, then they are more than likely to consider the aircraft in good condition, therefore misleading the buyer. Or if they have a relationship with the seller/owner, they may be inclined to “help” the seller close the deal. Though this is not ethical, we are still human and our conscience does not always guide us in the right direction.

    DO hire an inspector that is an expert in your type of aircraft

    When it comes to inspecting the aircraft, you want someone that is an expert in the make and model aircraft as well as the type of aircraft. This person needs to have a lot of experience with the same make and model of aircraft. The mechanic will only have a limited amount of time, so it is important that they know exactly where to look for problems. This kind of knowledge comes with experience with the particular make and aircraft model. Ideally, the pre buy should be done at a place that is authorized by the factory or a specialty shop that deals with this type of aircraft.

    DO NOT request a pre-buy far away from the aircraft location

    The pre-buy should be done close to where the aircraft is located. Not many sellers will be comfortable having their aircraft flown far away for a pre buy, and not many buyers want to spend a lot of money on fuel flying an aircraft long distances when they’re not yet sure they will be buying it. The guideline we use is that the pre buy shop should be within one hour’s flying time from the aircraft’s home base.

    The pre buy and any ferrying expenses should only be paid for by the buyer. Never agree to split the costs of the pre-buy with the seller, because then, the seller will want to control the location and scope of the pre buy.

    DO halt the pre-buy exam if a big-ticket item arises

    As the evaluation is being performed, a big ticket item may arise. The big ticket item may be something that is wrong with the engines that may cost the buyer hundreds of thousands of dollars in upcoming maintenance, which may entail many hours of service. When the plane is grounded, it is no good to the owner.

    It is a good idea to stop the inspection and consult the seller on how they want to proceed. If the seller is willing to fix the issue, then the buyer may be willing to continue with the purchase. If the seller is unwilling to fix the problem, then this may lead the buyer to end the inspection and move on to the next aircraft. Saving everyone time and money.

    Uncovering Hidden Problems Before You Buy

    Aircraft Landing Gear Inspection

    Ultimately, pre buy aircraft inspections are essential for safety and financial reasons as they help determine whether an airplane is worth investing in or not. Consider it a small investment that can help you avoid much larger costs down the road.

    By having a specialist evaluate the condition of the plane and generate an evaluation report prior to closing on the sale agreement, buyers gain an in-depth analysis of the aircraft, a negotiation tool, and assurance that their investment is safe from any hidden problems or issues that could arise in the future.

    Knowing what you’re getting into before buying a private jet ensures peace of mind and allows potential owners to make informed decisions when it comes time to invest in an aircraft.

    Ready to buy an aircraft?

    If you are in the private aviation market to buy a Beechjet, Learjet, or Citation aircraft, look no further than Sky Aircraft Maintenance (SAM)! Our team is armed with extensive knowledge and experience in these types of aircraft. 

    We are here to provide you with the information necessary for making a well-informed decision when it comes to your big purchase. With us on your side, you can purchase in confidence and enjoy peace of mind. Use the form below to email us to schedule an aircraft inspection or any questions you might have.

    Contact Sky Aircraft Maintenance

    People Also Ask

    When buying an aircraft, there are several common mistakes that a potential new owner should be aware of in order to ensure that they make a wise and informed decision. Some of these mistakes include:


    1. Not researching the aircraft and its features thoroughly before making a purchase. Aircraft can vary widely in terms of size, capacity, performance, and cost, so it is essential to understand the features of the aircraft you are interested in before taking the plunge.

    2. Failing to thoroughly inspect the aircraft and its logs before purchasing. It is important to check for evidence of previous damage or repairs and to make sure that the maintenance records are up-to-date and accurate.

    3. Not understanding all of the associated costs beyond the initial purchase price - such as insurance, fuel, storage fees, maintenance costs, etc.

    4. Not seeking expert advice from an experienced private aviation consultant who can provide valuable insight into the aircraft selection process.

    5. Neglecting to properly protect your investment through insurance coverage or other forms of protection such as warranties or service contracts.

    6. Thinking a pre buy inspection is the same as an annual inspection.


    By avoiding these common mistakes, buyers can reduce their risk and maximize their chances of finding the right aircraft for their needs at a reasonable price.

    The cost of an aircraft pre-buy inspection for an airplane usually depends on the type and size of the aircraft. Generally, the buyer of the aircraft is responsible for paying for the inspection, although in some cases the seller may agree to cover some or all of the cost. It is important to note that an independent inspector should be used to conduct the inspection, as this will ensure impartiality and accuracy in evaluating the condition of the aircraft. Additionally, it is recommended that buyers obtain quotes from multiple inspectors before selecting one to perform their aircraft pre-buy inspection.

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