Should I Conduct a Pre-Purchase Plane Inspection (PPI)?

Trever
Trever

Trever Rossini is the owner of Inflight Pilot Training and Citadel Aircraft Maintenance at Flying Cloud Airport (FCM) in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

One of the best decisions you can make before purchasing an airplane is to have a licensed Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) mechanic conduct an independent, unbiased inspection of the aircraft. This process is what’s known as a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI). A PPI will give provide many valuable insights into the overall health of the airplane. This inspection, when conducted thoroughly by someone who knows what they are doing, will reveal some deep-seated issues that may not be readily visible.

You should always perform a PPI before you purchase an airplane regardless of who you are buying it from. It doesn’t matter whether you are buying the airplane from your best friend or you have flown it before. It’s especially important to perform a PPI before you make any financial commitments. It’s easy to fall in love with a particular airplane, especially if you are passionate about flying – so don’t be hasty when buying one. Take time to make sure that you are getting your money’s worth.

Why are Pre-Purchase Inspections Important?

The goal of a pre-purchase inspection is to examine the airplane for damages or faults that may not be clear to an untrained eye. A PPI is not an annual inspection but a one-time exercise that helps the buyer make an educated guess vis-à-vis any maintenance issues that may arise in the future. Results of a PPI will obviously have an impact on the price of the airplane. For instance, if the PPI report uncovers a serious problem, the buyer will demand a reduction in the price to cover the cost of fixing the problem. That’s why many sellers may seem hesitant to perform PPIs. All in all, as the buyer, it’s in your best interest to insist on a comprehensive PPI.

Performing a Pre-Purchase Inspection

The pre-purchase inspection is one of the most important aspects of buying a used aircraft. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the perspective of both parties; the buyer and the seller. The process of conducting a PPI should start early, preferably at the Aircraft Purchase Agreement (APA) phase of the transaction. This is the stage that specifies the scope of the inspection and spells out details about the cancellation of the purchase should the PPI uncover any major discrepancies.

The success of the PPI will depend on the ability of both parties to agree on salient matters. For instance, the seller and the buyer must agree on where to perform the exercise. As a buyer, choose a facility that doesn’t have any pre-existing relationship with the seller. For instance, don’t select a facility that has previously performed any regular or scheduled maintenance for the airplane. Choose a neutral, independent facility and avoid any conflict of interest. This is the only way you can get an independent, unbiased PPI report.  

Experience Matters

When choosing a facility to perform the PPI, select one that demonstrates experience with the type of airplane you want to inspect. Ask for a list of references to get some insight on the quality of work being offered and confirm their experience. Although you should always try to get the best price for the pre-buy inspection, don’t compromise the quality of work. You should never choose a facility with less experience just because they are charging less for the inspection. The PPI isn’t something you can short-change, so beware.

The Scope of the Inspection

The scope of inspection is another area that comes up often and needs to be resolved at the APA stage of the transaction. The buyer and the seller must agree on the scope of inspection for a successful PPI to take place. Sometimes, both parties fail to agree on this matter. For instance, the buyer may want a more comprehensive inspection than the seller is willing to subject the airplane to. Naturally, as a buyer, you don’t want to pay for an unseen problem that could have easily been identified with a comprehensive PPI.

On the other hand, the seller is afraid that a more comprehensive PPI may reveal issues for which the necessary corrective action will eat into the value of the airplane. The process of buying a used airplane should be thorough, so insist on a comprehensive pre-buy inspection. Be extra careful when dealing with an older airplane or one that has been exposed to adverse conditions such as dusty environments or corrosive atmospheres. Also, if the airplane has some form of damage history, you need to make sure that it’s checked out carefully if you don’t want to face the same problems resurfacing in future.

Are you in search of a partner to perform your pre-purchase plane inspection? Contact the expert team of mechanics at Citadel Aircraft Maintenance today!

We service private and corporate airplanes in Minnesota, providing expert pre-purchase plane inspections to aircraft buyers around the state. We provide top-tier inspection services that will leave you with peace of mind knowing you’re buying a high-quality plane.

The experience we offer gives pilots confidence in their aircraft and sets future expectations for a higher level of service. At Citadel Aircraft Maintenance, we will always treat our clients’ planes like our own.

Get in touch with our team for a free quote on your aircraft’s maintenance needs.

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