Pre-Purchase Inspections

Limited Pre-Purchase Inspections

Are you considering forgoing the pre-purchase inspection on a private jet?  After all, why spend the time and money investigating something that looks perfectly fine?    Consider a recent example: Jet Advisors conducted a pre-purchase inspection on a large-cabin private jet with exceptional maintenance records.  It had been maintained by a reputable shop and there was nothing to indicate any issues such as foreign object damage.   Jet Advisors started the inspection with a test flight, and the test pilot reported a clean bill of health for the aircraft with only a few minor discrepancies. Jet Advisors continued with the inspection according to schedule and discovered Foreign Object Damage (FOD) on the #2 engine.  A foreign object had damaged over two hundred turbine blades.  Although the engine was repaired and reassembled by the manufacturer, it never did produce as much power as it did originally.

Just because a private jet looks nice and was serviced by a respectable repair shop doesn’t mean that it hasn’t sustained significant damage.   Furthermore damage history, even when properly repaired, can greatly decrease its resale value.

Pre-purchase inspections must be thorough.  A damaged part can be hidden beneath a seldom-opened panel or a new paint job.  Initially you should check for a good maintenance history.  The service shop is scrutinized for its maintenance procedures and repair history.  All parts of the airplane are carefully inspected to look for damaged or over worn parts, corrosion, or other body damage.  Inspections also check for optional service bulletins and optional maintenance procedures that were performed.

Even the kind of damage history of a plane is important.  Static damage history designates damage that was incurred while the plane was stationary.  This kind of damage usually results from ground handling, equipment handling, mechanics, and falling objects.  Dynamic damage history includes only damage incurred while the plane was being powered by its own engines.

Although the FAA requires that all major repairs and modifications to an aircraft be reported with a Form 337, but not all damages are recorded.  It is important to conduct an inspection of the plane yourself since official damage history reports are not always enough.  A reputable service center can install a new part without filing a 337 form.

Failing to be aware of damage history can be costly.  Unforeseen maintenance procedures can be expensive, and minor damages that go unchecked can cause much larger problems.  Damage repair is, almost without exception, very expensive.  For example, in the case of a windshield that has been delaminated beyond tolerance, replacement could cost $100,000.  Corrosion can cost much more.

Unfortunately, spending lots of money to repair damage won’t improve a jet’s value, it will only reduce it.  A $1 million corrosion repair will not impress future buyers, it will only raise more questions: if one part of the plane needed expensive repairs, will the rest of it? Is the plane just unreliable? Will it need more repairs as soon as it is purchased? Even if a buyer decides to purchase a private jet with damage history, the sale process slows considerably and the jet’s value is seriously reduced, generally by 3% to 15%.

Unknowingly buying a plane with damage history is very costly mistake. Unforeseen repairs can cost $100,000 or more, and the resell value of a damaged jet is significantly lower than an undamaged one. The direct and indirect costs of buying a damaged jet are high enough to justify getting outside help. Hiring a firm with experience and knowledge of maintenance history and the inspection process is cheap insurance policy against the costs of buying a damaged jet.