Top Ten Questions to Ask Your Aircraft Broker

tips Mar 28, 2024
Top Ten Questions to Ask Your Aircraft Broker


Do I need to own an aircraft?

Owning an aircraft comes with expensive operating costs and liability. Aircraft ownership requires help from third-party vendors and providers to make it work.  Parking, hangering, maintenance, and fuel are just a few operating costs of owning an aircraft.  Be cautious because IT’S NOT CHEAP.  However, owning a plane can be the most economical option, depending on the circumstances. Research has shown that if you fly less than 100 hours annually, you are better off chartering an airplane than owning one. When chartering an aircraft, some negatives include being subject to the provider's operations and procedures, such as winter de-icing policy, pilots, maintenance, scheduling limitations, and service areas. While owning an aircraft allows better control and flexibility over your transportation, sometimes chartering is the better option to meet your transportation needs.


How much is your fee?

If you buy a pre-owned aircraft from someone other than the manufacturer, many fees are associated with the transaction. Usually, brokers complete a transaction with a team of people, and everyone wants their fair share. Asking a broker or firm upfront what fees you must pay is essential to your purchase. You only need to pay your team, as they act in your best interest, and the commission ranges anywhere from 1%-10% depending on the aircraft type. Sometimes, a set, fixed price is required for more significant transactions.  


Is this the right aircraft, and is it up to industry standards?

A good aircraft broker will inform you if the selected plane can support your desired operation plans. Factors such as how often, where, and how many people you fly determine the type of aircraft you purchase. Like a car, an aircraft has four main components: airframe, engine, interior, and avionics. Upgrades are only necessary if your planned operation of the aircraft requires it. Good brokers will understand the specifications and limitations of an aircraft and will use that information as leverage when negotiating a fair deal. It’s important to note that just because a plane is “ old “ does not mean it is not airworthy. Old planes can flawlessly support private ownership operations based on the previous owner's upkeep and longevity of maintenance.


Does the aircraft have any damage history?

Damage history for an aircraft is not a deal breaker. Depending on the accident's severity and what was done, damage history can be negligible if the owner completes all necessary repairs to restore the aircraft. When buying a plane with damage history, it is a good idea to get an appraisal and investigate what type of flying the aircraft has done since the accident. This will help you make a sound decision when evaluating aircraft depreciation due to an incident.   


What is the typical resale value of the aircraft?

This is an excellent question for short-term aircraft buyers. Planes are an equitable asset over time. It is crucial as an owner to fix the right things at the right time to keep your asset in resellable condition. Doing this will help you keep the resale value of your plane high when you no longer need it. While completing scheduled and unscheduled maintenance is required, preparing for an engine overhaul and “longevity maintenance” is also essential when owning an aircraft. When determining whether purchasing an aircraft is economical, you should decide how many years you will need the plane and the number of flights and mileage per year. This will help you understand and map out when to install new or overhauled equipment to keep your aircraft in resellable condition.


Do you have any experience with this type of aircraft?

It’s essential to ensure that your broker specializes in the kind of plane you are acquiring or selling. Brokers are not required to have any education or credentials to sell or buy aircraft. That said, dealing with a reputable broker specializing in the type of aircraft you buy or sell is critical to ensuring the highest quality of service. A strong broker usually has extensive knowledge of a singular aircraft type and knows all the tips and tricks for securing aircraft-specific investment.  


What are the operating costs of the aircraft?

Similar to how a car buyer considers gas mileage, so should you. Understanding the operating cost of the aircraft is essential for determining which one to buy. Jets and multi-engine planes use much more fuel and cost more to operate overall than piston and single-engine turbines. Before buying one, you should understand the operating costs and ensure that you can afford to operate the aircraft for the flying time and distances planned.  One of the worst things a buyer can do is buy an aircraft they can barely afford to run. Don’t let that happen to you.


Do you have any references?

The FAA does not require aircraft brokers to have credentials, certification, or formal aviation education. It might be worth researching your broker to ensure good industry standing. Researching a broker’s social media and asking for past client success stories and client references might save you from entering into a contract with the wrong broker.


After I own my aircraft, should I charter it?

Aircraft chartering is an excellent option if your aircraft is large enough and you are open to having other pilots and passengers on your plane. Chartering your aircraft can help you recover some of the third-party costs of owning an aircraft. This is a challenging process to set up initially, as the FAA requires you to obtain an approved charter certificate before you charter a plane for “hire or compensation.” This process involves extra time and effort, but you can retain an aircraft manager or other professional to set up this process.


How will I manage the aircraft once I have it?

Parking, maintenance, pilots, and logistics are all part of aircraft ownership, and these can sometimes become overwhelming and complex. Hiring an aircraft manager with a strong network in the aviation industry will help you take care of these logistics.  An aircraft manager can also help you make sound decisions about maintenance and what and when you need to replace parts.


Are you ready to take the next step on becoming an aircraft broker? Our online course equips you with the necessary tools and knowledge to run a successful aircraft brokerage and inspires you to become financially independent regardless of your experience in the aviation industry. 

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