In most aircraft transactions, the buyer should have a pre-purchase inspection performed on the aircraft. Why? To make sure the buyer knows what the buyer is getting before the buyer closes on the purchase. The pre-purchase inspection allows the buyer to confirm that:
- The aircraft is in an airworthy condition;
- The aircraft has a current, valid, and effective standard category airworthiness certificate issued by the FAA (FAA Aeronautical Center Form 8100-2) without restriction or limitation;
- The aircraft is in compliance with its type certificate;
- All of the aircraft’s airframe, engine and/or propeller logbooks, as well as the maintenance records, are original and complete;
- The aircraft’s engine(s) and all other systems and installed equipment are operating in a manner that is consistent with the standard specifications, limitations and requirements of the applicable maintenance and/or operations manual;
- All of the aircraft’s calendar, cycle and hourly inspections per the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance program are completed and current with no extensions or deferrals, and with no non-standard or recurring inspections required outside of the standard manufacturer’s recommended maintenance program;
- All mandatory service bulletins (or equivalents) and airworthiness directives applicable to the aircraft have been completed and/or are in compliance and current, without recurring incident if such terminating action is available;
- The aircraft doesn’t have any undisclosed history of material damage;
- The aircraft doesn’t have any corrosion outside of manufacturers’ in-service limits;
- All aircraft and engine maintenance and/or warranty programs are current and fully paid;
The purchase agreement (which should be used in all aircraft transactions) can specify who will perform the inspection, what qualifications that individual must possess and where the inspection will take place. Although the buyer is usually responsible for the expenses associated with a pre-purchase inspection, the agreement should address which party is responsible for what expenses related to the inspection.
Also, the buyer should make the agreement contingent upon the buyer’s satisfaction with results of the inspection. If the pre-purchase inspection discloses that the aircraft isn’t as represented by the seller or as expected by the buyer, then the buyer should have options to either get out of the transaction or to require that the seller correct any discrepancies. It is much better to discover discrepancies before the buyer pays for the aircraft than it is to find out at a later time when the buyer’s recourse may be limited.
So, if you are an aircraft buyer and you want to make sure you are getting everything for which you are paying, make sure you have a pre-purchase inspection performed by a mechanic or repair station you trust. It is worth the expense.