If you are an airline, you have a team of people that really know the market of the 3000+ Boeing 737s or Airbus A320s out there. If this is the case, you don’t need help.
Not the same for us private and business folk. We’re in a smaller pool with much bigger swings up and down – and god forbid – sideways.
Leaky fuselage? Unknown service bulletin compliance? Sure, it’s just money, but damn… that’s a lot of money… like 5% of the purchase price.
Private jet prices aren’t in a world that is rife with consumer protection. There’s none actually.
The reality is, when it comes to appraising the value of a plane, you are on your own. So, consider the following points as a great starting point.
Make Sure Your Appraiser Knows The Purpose
Not all appraisals are created equal. An appraiser who knows why they have been sent to canvas all Gulfstreams is a more effective expert. You might be refinancing a loan or looking at an insurance policy value. Either way, the mandate is to provide a marketplace snapshot of what an aircraft might sell for. This is important …since all appraisals last forever (as a snapshot in time).
Down the road, appraisers may need to be able to justify what they said. That and when they said it, in the context of the ecosystem they were appraising the asset in.
Touch The Logbooks
Despite the fact that buying a home comes with the benefit of disclosure laws most buyers still retain the service of a qualified inspector. This is to identify conditions that may reveal anything from radon to a an aging water heater on its last legs. Knowing stuff that is small vs. huge is… well huge.
The same can be said for how you buy a private jet—but the stakes are higher. Amazingly, the technical review portion of this process is often not considered part of how you buy a jet. Some buyers accept the seller’s repair station (or “shop”) assessment. When you are local to the client and have a history – it is hard to get impartial findings.
Be sure the individual sent can read logbooks, technical data, and interpret the aircraft history. Where was it hangared? Was the environment corrosive? Does this or other questions lead to further questions? If that is not enough, consider this: There are jets for sale under 1 million USD. One small shortcoming can swing the value enough to make it a genuine boat anchor.
Get every detail.
It’s A Balance Sheet – That Flies
You don’t like Elvis? I don’t either, but the Elvis interior may not color the value of the airplane, since cosmetics are subjective. Components, times, cycles, and listed equipment aren’t subjective. When it comes to building a true balance sheet for the airplane, remain objective. Remain objective and you will see how the technical perspective via documentation is the cornerstone.
Beware The “Oh… I Know A Pilot” Referral
As a former air charter operator, pilot and charter broker one thing impressed me time and again. There are more brokers and “advisors” than there are actual airplanes or owners. An inverse market with more sharks than chum. When you meet the shark, you might hear the words “OMG… chum!”
When retaining anyone in the industry follow the common sense you know from the rest of your business acumen: Don’t hire a salesperson. If you do, be sure to understand the remuneration and their affiliations. Make sure the agreement for retention stipulates that you are paying them to be your eyes, ears and nose. Nothing more. They also represent that they have no connection to any conflict of interest. This means sales, management or manufacturer ties. And they want you to be at the closing so you can see the parties.
Why do we mention this? Too many closings happen without the real buyer or seller present. And when this happens you are likely leaking, if not urinating money.
It Is A Research Project – That Flies
You want to know the history of the caretaker, pilot, and the director of maintenance. Determine whether the logbooks tell a story of progressively staying ahead of problems. Or is it more chasing them after they caused an unscheduled event? Even more mundane are things like subscriptions to services, such as CAMP or equivalent tracking tools. These tools provide tremendous insight into the aircraft’s history, status, and upcoming spending. Money you’ll be laying out should be disclosed to the next owner. In the end, your appraisal process should provide a narrative of how the airplane got to where it is today. And how its history affects both its current and potential value.