Buying a plane: what to look for

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Whisky Tango
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Buying a plane: what to look for

Post by Whisky Tango »

I've been looking around at places like www.controller.com and it would appear to be a buyers' market at the moment, with some great deals to be had out there. Or at least that how it appears to me anyway, as I don't really know what numbers I should be looking for. For example, if a plane's engine has 1500SMOH would that mean she'd need a new one to get a C of A in Ireland? How long on a new engine?

What are the guide figures to look for regarding Total Time, Engine time (SMOH/SNEW), Prop time, etc? What may seem to be a good deal could well turn out to be needing a whole lot of €uro$ spent on it before being allowed to fly.

Eg. take a look at these

airoshane
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Post by airoshane »

The two most important things are airframe time (TTAF) and engine time since new or factory overhaul (TTSN) (TTSO).

You need to know the time between engine overhaul for the engine you are looking at. Most engines are allowed run for about 2000 hours before overhaul. This figure can be extended by 20% based on engine condition. You need to find an aircraft with a few hours left on the engine or you may have to pay out 25,000 for an overhaul.

Avoid engines that are 10 years or older... The IAA will demand an overhaul.

Airframe hours are nice to know too. The lower the hours, the better.

A small example here;
Piper Cherokee TTAF 12,000. Engine lycoming 0-320. TTSO 1000 hours.

This aircraft has a mid-life engine and high enough air hours.
The engine has done 1000 hours since overhaul and has 1000 left as the time between overhaul for that engine is 2000 hours.

willo
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Post by willo »

What airoshane says is correct.

I beleive that the time life of most engines is 20 years, not ten, assuming you dont reach the 2000 hours.

Also, particularly with airframe hours, be wary of ADs that specify replacements at certain hours, so there may be a major mod required for a particular airplane at (say) 8,000 hours, even thoug it is only midlife. This will depend on plane to plane.

I would suggest to contact an Aircraft maintenance facility to check out any potential aircraft and to establish what mods/replacements are coming soon

Willo

ifty
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Post by ifty »

willo wrote:What airoshane says is correct.

I beleive that the time life of most engines is 20 years, not ten, assuming you dont reach the 2000 hours.

Willo
Is it not twelve years?
You pass this way but once, there is no such thing as normal. There is you and the rest, now and forever. Do as you damn well please or you could end up being a pot-bellied, hairless boring old fart.

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Post by cubpilot »

Don't overlook the Permit to Fly aircraft. The costs of ownership are way way lower than buying a fully certificated plane and you don't end up paying out on needless engine overhauls based on age.

permit aircraft come in two basic groups, homebuilt: many of these have far superior performance than standard spam cans, and orphaned Classic planes: vintage and classic production aircraft where the manufacturer has ceased trading and the type certificate is no longer supported by any organisation.

There are some limitations of use for permit aircraft, the main ones are that thay cannot be used for aerial work, eg flight training and that you cannot fly IR in them. You do also require permission to fly to other countries and the rules for permission vary country to country.

saying that i have operated a permit to fly cub for some 25 years and flown as far afield as spain hungary poland and finland without any difficulty.

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Post by holyflyer »

Whisky Tango - some of the american sales sites are very tempting at the moment given the exchange rates. There is also considerable scope for negotiation and discounting (US, UK & EU).

Be aware though that the shipping, re-registration etc from the US can add considerably to the cost.

For comparison some UK and EU sales sites :

http://www.afors.co.uk/
http://www.justplanetrading.com/
http://www.planecheck.com/eu/
http://www.gtaviation.co.uk/-/?pn=0&pv=1

Other US sites :
http://www.barnstormers.com/
http://www.trade-a-plane.com/

Always have an engineer with you to inspect the plane. Ensure all logs are available. If anything is withheld - walk away.

JoeMc
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Post by JoeMc »

Hi lads

This is something I have taken an interest in recently. I’m nearing the end of the PPL course and had a mind to buy something Group A for start of 2010. The prices are tempting and same as you I found the specs difficult to get a handle on.

However after much analysis and some very good and accurate advice provided by some of the members of this forum, I concur with CubPilot that permit aircraft seems to be the only realistic option (unless of course you have vulgar amounts of €€ or have something to blackmail your banker with) for the ordinary pilot. It seems the cost of acquiring a CofA craft is relatively low but the maintenance expenditure is just daft! The one question that I just cant justify is given the amount of time we spend on the ground looking at nimbus clouds would you get the value out of owning one?

The other option that seems very viable is to form (or join) a syndicate. These seem very popular in the UK and could open the door to a much more expensive machine. 4 or 5 could go together and acquire a good piper/Cessna with IFR capabilities etc. Engine funds / hangerage etc are also divided among the group so maintaining at least some control on wallet leakage. I reckon it would also easier to sell a share, rather that a full aircraft, if you had too in the future. Of course there is the obvious disadvantages, availability, double-bookings, Rows, but hey that’s life huh!

For me the romance of GA flying is to acquire a good L18c Cub (as per cubpilots advice) or similar permit machine. So watch this space as I might be looking for a couple of syndicate members in the new year (and a good cub to buy!!)

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Post by cubpilot »

years ago i too pondered the question of owning a plane v hiring and should i own outright or in a group. in the end i bought outright and have never regretted doing so. yes i do have to fund all the costs but there are ways to keep these in check. eg some insurance companies have a pay as you go scheme others will allow monthly or quarterly payments to spread the costs. as mentioned permit is cheaper than C of A. The final big cost is hangarage and you just need to shop about to find a decent place that suits your needs and does not cost an arm and a leg to house your precious machine. ie get out and about and find a farm strip near you or even find a farmer with a decent field who could do with some extra and regular income for an additional use of grazing land. planes can mix with livestock, particularly sheep. (cows do have a habit of eating planes)

if you have your own plane you will use it far more than you think. hiring from a club you tend to look at the budget in terms of cash per hour. with your own plane you look at it more like having a car, the fixed costs are paid and you just need to add fuel. your average classic permit plane more likely than not will run much better on mogas than avgas and for even cheaper flying when you cross the international border you can claim the duty back from the revenue.

a final point, most permit planes have retained their value but the lower cost C of A planes have dropped markedly recently as flying schools have begun shifting to mogas using rotax engined planes and private owners have been stung by the new Cof A fees.

flymo
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Few more points of note

Post by flymo »

Other couple of points to consider;
1. Has the aircraft got product support without this spare's, A/D compliance may be an issue along with the ability to get it on a c of a.
2. With a Permit to Fly aircraft that meets Annex 2 the engine can go on condition over 2000hrs as long as it is maintained and inspected as per procedures manual
Keep Your Tail in Trail

Glenn
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Post by Glenn »

Just a point im interested in which is a bit off track.

Regarding the C of A, how is this completed? Is it an engineer from the IAA who surveys the plane once a year and signs it off? How much does this cost?

Any answers much appreciated.

airoshane
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Post by airoshane »

The engine life is restricted to 10 years. This can be extended to 12 years if the engine is in good condition.

There is a list of things that need to be done during an annual inspection. Section 8 in this document shows everything.

http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP411.PDF

Expect to pay up to €6000 for an annual on a cessna 172/ piper cherokee depending on what condition its in. (not an exact figure! I'm going by my experience)

The IAA will inspect the plane after the maintenance engineer finishes working on it. They are interested in log books and paperwork.

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Post by stovepipe »

Hi there
A lot of that average 6 grand is down to man-hours.You'd surprised how many hours are taken up with dealing with easily-prevented corrosion and other basic neglect.If owners paid more attention to the basics, especially at every 50-hour, they'd reduce their maintenance bills.
regards
Stovepipe

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Post by avalanche »

Whiskey Tango, based on the fact you are looking at American sites and prices I resume you are looking at importing? I have imported 2 aircraft, both purchased on Branstormers .com, which i believe is the best site.

One option no one has mentioned is keeping it on the american registration as a number of GA aircraft operating in Ireland are. This would require no C of A and would mean the aircraft could operate without fear of the 12 year rule between overhaul that is mandatory on all newly imported certified aircraft with normal american engines (i.e. lycomings)to Ireland or the UK.


With regard to buying stateside, get it checked out by a local maintenance person first who specialises in the type you require. it is unlikely they will lie to you for fear of legal action being taken.

Both of the aircraft i have imported are aerobatic permit to fly types and as such are not subject to 12 year rule but both were checked out before purchase. as it is a buyers market there, you should have no problem finding someone to survey one or more aircraft for you.

hope this helps

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