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Buying A Jet: What’s Really Behind a Jet’s Price Tag


One of the most common issues in buying used aircraft is identifying incorrect pricing. And it’s easy to understand why: Aircraft pricing is a complex process that involves a lot of different factors. Many buyers fall into one of two common traps:

  • The “but-Joe-said” scenario — When buyers base their cost expectations on the recommendations of friends, coworkers, or industry professionals such as pilots, they can end up overpaying or over- or under-buying for their needs. The problem is that most people, even if they’re familiar with aircraft, aren’t well-researched in the entire market and all of the nuances that affect a jet’s fair market value.

Caveat emptor — Is the price too good to be true? Buyers might not know what’s hidden behind a low price: damage history, missing records, big inspections almost due, the need for engine repairs, or more. Unknown factors can shoot up future expenses in a jiffy.

  • Avionics — If a plane needs a new and updated radio, you could be looking at an additional cost of $20,000 or more.

  • Engine time — Engines have a limited life expectancy, which is defined by the Time Before Overhaul (TBO). This value is set based on when the average engine needs to be overhauled. If you buy a plane that is nearing its TBO limit, you need to factor in the cost to overhaul the engine.

  • Exterior and interior condition — Considerations such as exterior paint condition and corrosion or the need for an interior update can influence the price of a pre-owned aircraft by thousands of dollars.

  • Location transfer — Remember to figure in the cost of transporting your newly purchased jet to its new home.

All in all, the best way to get the best price is to have an expert’s assistance in the purchase process. Experience, knowledge, and working with a jet broker you can trust are the keys to avoiding pitfalls and making sure you don’t pay more than you should for the right plane.

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