Successful Pre-Purchase Inspections

With so many options on the market, purchasing your next aircraft is a big decision. Once you have finally narrowed down your search, here are a few ingredients that will help in completing a successful pre-purchase inspection.

  1. Log Book Research – The airframe, engine and propeller log books will offer you a vast amount of information. Things you should be looking for are: damage history and the repair logs, a continuous log book trail, dates of major repairs, alterations, annual inspection dates, total time on airframe, and time since major overhauls on propeller and engine. Be sure all major repair and alteration (337s) documents and supplemental type certificate paperwork are present in the logs. Take note of where the aircraft was maintained as this will give you a good idea of the conditions the aircraft has been operated under.
  2. Title Search – Order the title search on the aircraft. This is available through any aviation title company. Be sure to review the title search and check if there are any open liens or encumbrances on the aircraft and review the remarks listed. When you call to order a title search, you may want to order the CD of electronic files that is available. This CD will give you all major repair and alteration (337s) documents that have previously been filed with the FAA and a transit history of previous owners.
  3. Mechanical Inspection – This inspection should consist of airframe condition, engine overall condition and compressions, avionics review, and systematically that aircraft is functioning properly. Ask the seller for a test flight. Make sure the aircraft performs as it should per the POH, avionics are operational, monitor engine gauges and others, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. An overall cosmetic look of the interior and exterior should also be included.
  4. Inspection Facility – If you don’t have your Airframe & Powerplant License it is good idea to hire a maintenance facility to perform your physical inspection. This facility will be trained to find small problems that could turn into large problems later down the road. The more you know about the aircraft now, the less likely you will be to have unexpected expenses arise on your aircraft in the future.