The idea of getting a new plane is exciting. Once you have an idea of the aircraft you want to purchase, then the real work begins. Many people will skip performing a full aircraft pre-purchase inspection, particularly if a scheduled inspection and maintenance was recently performed. However, experience has taught us that having a thorough pre-purchase inspection will ensure that you have an airworthy aircraft, rather than one that ends up costing you more money. One effort that needs to be done is to choose the right and right fleet engineers.
The cost of an aircraft pre-purchase inspection is covered by the buyer. Therefore, selecting an experienced company to perform the inspection is very important, not only to ensure airworthiness and safety of the aircraft but to also ensure you receive the greatest value. And what needs to be considered when going to buy a plane is how to aircraft maintenance. Interview maintenance providers with the following in mind:
- Do they have an outstanding reputation?
- Do they have extensive knowledge of the make and model aircraft you are considering?
- Is the mechanic performing the actual inspection an expert on the aircraft?
Once you have chosen the maintenance facility, there are additional steps you want to take to ensure you are appropriately covered in this process. First, make sure there is no bias either toward or against the aircraft you want to purchase. Second, get the entire scope of the inspection in writing so you know upfront exactly what services are being delivered.
Before you start the aircraft inspection, make sure you perform a thorough evaluation of the records, including aircraft maintenance logs. Additionally, ensure accurate records showing compliance with the manufacturer’s Service Bulletins are available and up-to-date. Many are tied to the aircraft’s scheduled inspection program and may affect how you maintain the aircraft going forward. The type of aircraft that requires adequate maintenance is 787 FMS.
All STCs, 337s, and major repairs require review for completeness and to ensure incorporation of Instructions for Continued Airworthiness. While many business jets are on a manufacturer-approved maintenance program, it is still worth the time to verify that the aircraft is on the correct program for the serial number and modification status.
Remember that any errors made by previous owners will become your problem after the purchase, including the assessment of fines or even loss of your license. Therefore, ensuring a thorough and professional aircraft pre-purchase inspection is performed is critical.
Pre Purchase Inspection Process
Once you start to perform the physical inspection, look for signs of accidents or incidents that may not be reflected accurately in the records. Also, make sure the maintenance facility aircraft pre-purchase inspection encompasses all areas, starting with critical inspection points first. These include checking:
- Fuel system, integral and bladder tanks for leaks, corrosion, cracks and microbial growth detection
- Engine mounts and major structural attachment areas for damage and corrosion
- Wing attachments, vertical pylon and horizontal stabilizer areas with a 10-power glass for crack indications
- Floor panels and lavatory areas for corrosion
- Engines and APU for leaks and drips with a borescope
Next up is a visual inspection. During this phase, look for patches and panel repairs, examine exterior paint for shortcuts, and extend all control surfaces to look at the condition of brackets and drain holes. Check windows for scratches and distortion. Finally, ensure all the 337s from your paperwork review match up and review the associated workmanship.
A robust aircraft pre-purchase inspection checklist will include a thorough evaluation of the following areas:
- Propeller & Engine
- Engine Start
- Engine Runup
- Taxi Test
- Flight Test
Having a detailed aircraft pre-purchase inspection will uncover any corrosion, poor maintenance, and structural issues that you want to know before completing the purchase. Once you have determined that the aircraft maintenance logs are in order and are satisfied that the aircraft passes the inspection, you will have the peace of mind to continue the purchase process.