Pre-Purchase Inspection

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Pre-Purchase Inspection
Pre-Purchase Inspection

Small Investment Now Could Preclude Major Expenses Later


Alpha Aviation Mission Outreach Center Inc. (AAMOC) provides personalized sales service: from listing your aircraft to personally showing your aircraft, to managing pre-purchase inspections.  Our sales team eliminates the confusion and stress often associated with aircraft transactions by managing the process for you.

AAMOC researches aircraft markets and performs a detailed market analysis of your aircraft. We identify and make comparisons to the current competition aircraft and present our client with a full market analysis and proposed marketing plan.

When representing our clients in the acquisition of the aircraft we look to identify and deliver the aircraft that best fits the mission profile.  Our market search capabilities allow for extensive research of aircraft on as well as off the market. Our consultation is ideal for first-time aircraft buyers as well as start-up flight departments seeking to  purchase their first aircraft.

services_iconAAMOC offers our pre-purchase inspection service with years of experience and knowledge to inshore you making a smart purchase on a new airplane.  Pre-Purchase Inspection is not an annual inspection, although the buyer and seller could agree to such an arrangement. The object is to examine the aircraft for damage and wear that might not be evident to an untrained eye and to form an educated guess as to maintenance problems that might arise in the future.
Obviously, the outcome of a pre-purchase inspection is likely to affect price. If a mechanic discovers a serious problem, the buyer is not likely to close the deal without a reduction in price equal to the cost of the repair. For that reason, the seller may be wary of such an inspection. Nevertheless, it is to the buyer’s advantage to insist upon one. The aircraft may be found to be un airworthy because of faulty equipment or lack of compliance with an airworthiness directive. Once the deal is closed and the buyer takes possession of the aircraft, it will be extremely difficult to force the previous owner to bear the cost of repairs that should have been performed before the sale.

The extent of a pre-purchase inspection depends upon the complexity of the aircraft and the wishes of the buyer. Because of the complexity of its systems, a late-model, turbocharged Cessna 210 requires a more thorough check-out than a simple Ercoupe. A wood-wing aircraft should be inspected for rotting or drying of the wooden components. Fabric-covered aircraft should be subjected to punch tests.

The buyer should specify the shop conducting the inspection or annual, but it is often the seller who rules in this decision. If that is the case, the buyer is well advised to evaluate the shop’s credibility and reputation. The inspection could amount to a “paperwork annual” in which the mechanic does his work looking through an office window, fingers attached to a coffee cup.

Poor annual inspections technically may not be fraudulent, but there have been incidents of improper repairs using stove bolts, hardware-store pop rivets, and other atrocities that cost a new owner with a fresh annual more than $5,000 to rectify. There is legal recourse in such cases, and the Federal Aviation Administration probably will be interested in a visit with the inspector, but the aircraft owner still loses money and use of the aircraft.

Following is a link to a printable checklist of items that should be covered on a thorough pre-purchase inspection. Many of the checks can be performed by the buyer, but a properly qualified authorized inspector (AI) or airframe and powerplant mechanic (A&P) should be retained to examine critical items such as the engine and logbooks.

Aircraft Condition Checklist

The following is a checklist that has been designed to assist you and your mechanic in evaluating the condition of an aircraft. A pre-purchase inspection can be as simple as a glance or as complex (and expensive) as an annual inspection. With this in mind, ALWAYS discuss your intentions and what you expect from the mechanic first. An unsatisfactory condition is not necessarily cause for rejection of the aircraft, but it should be treated as a point for further investigation and/or negotiation with the seller. The money spent on a pre-purchase inspection can be well worth the price when compared to the size of your investment and the potential for loss.

Paperwork. Check to see if the following are in order:

  1. Valid airworthiness certificate, current registration, operating limitations/placards, weight and balance with current equipment list, pilot’s operating handbook.
  2. Engine airframe and propeller logbooks. Check for complete maintenance history, airworthiness directive and service bulletin compliance, and also entries that suggest repairs due to an accident or incident.
  3. Title search. Insist on one to ensure there are no liens against the aircraft that may affect financing or your ability to sell the aircraft.
  1. Engine
    1. Is it clean and dry? Be wary of a spotless engine compartment that may have been treated to a “spray paint” over haul. Check the source of fluid leaks.
    2. Baffles. Eroded, misshapen baffles may be a sign of improper engine cooling over an extended period.
    3. Induction/exhaust systems. Check for corrosion, leaks, worn gaskets, and loose connectors.
    4. Cylinder compression check.
    5. Battery condition.
  2. Empennage
    1. Horizontal and vertical stabilizer attach points. Check for play and loose rivets.
    2. Elevator/stabilator attach hinges. Examine for excessive play in worn hinges. Replacing them can be very expensive.
    3. Rudder trailing edge. Look for dings (minor dents) or putty that would indicate hangar rash and potential control problems.
  3. Wings, ailerons, and flaps
    1. Look for wrinkles, warps, and chafing rivets. Pay particular attention to clean, freshly painted, or waxed aircraft. It may be more difficult to spot problem areas.
    2. Look for dings that may have to be repaired on leading edges of wings and trailing edges of ailerons and flaps. Check the undersides of wings near jack points for dings. Check wing-walks or strut steps for dents, corrosion, and worn-off rivet heads.
    3. Fuel caps and drains. Look for fuel stains around seams, rivets, and wing roots. This may indicate leaking tanks or bladders or, in a wet wing, leaking sealants.
  4. Fuselage
    1. Doors, hinges, and latches. Are all hinges in place and free of rust or corrosion? Do doors close easily and with a tight seal?
    2. Skin. Look for wrinkles or warping. Some “oil canning” is acceptable.
    3. Belly. Look for scrapes, dents, replacement panels, and patches that indicate a gear-up landing. While gear-up landings that result in minor damage need not affect the value of an aircraft, the logbook entries should reflect the repairs.
    4. Antennas. Are they properly located for best reception and transmission? Is the fiberglass coating eroded? Have all antennas been mounted properly?
  5. Landing gear
    1. Struts. Check for leaks, proper extension of struts, and integrity of hardware.
    2. Brakes. Check condition of discs and rotors. Don’t forget to test the brakes to see if they are effective.
    3. Tires. Are the sidewalls dried and cracked?
  6. Cabin or cockpit
    1. Seats, tracks, backs, seat belts, and shoulder harnesses. Check for wear.
    2. Instruments and avionics. Test them all thoroughly.

cake a smart choice and Contract us to do you pre-purchase inspection.