Considering a new(ish) plane?
Have you thought about purchasing a new plane? Maybe not new like in the ‘fresh out of the box new’ sense, but certainly new to you. Whether it will be your first, second or third, many times the one that has your interest is the one that looks good on the outside – the one that has a certain look or ‘cool factor’ appeal that seems to scream, “BUY ME”.
However, when it comes to owning an airplane, where not only the expense but the safety aspects of your decision play major roles, it might be best to bring in an unbiased point of view to separate the emotional from the practical. The insight of an aircraft technician that is uniquely qualified to discern the good from the bad with regards to the mechanical and structural integrity of the aircraft can be invaluable.
Pre-Purchase Evaluations – The Whys and Hows
Understanding the mechanical and structural condition of an aircraft is pivotal in being able to make, or not make, the decision to purchase a plane. With safety as the primary objective, a visual assessment of an aircraft’s condition conducted by a qualified technician could offer you peace of mind. A Pre-Purchase Evaluation can also be a valuable tool to highlight potential areas of concern that may need to be addressed.
While every make and model aircraft is different, there are common recurring issues typical to many planes. Here is a short list of the hot spots that should be addressed:
- Check the Paperwork
FIRST THING’S FIRST. A thorough review of the paperwork including the AD reports and type certificate could reveal potential concerns before the evaluation of the aircraft itself begins. Any modifications need to be properly documented and will be revealed in this examination. Failure to have this PROPERLY IDENTIFIED can lead to VERY expensive costs later on when taking the plane through your first annual!
- Run and Test the Engine
Check the engine for proper starting and operation. Listen for irregularities. Check the mag’s for allowable RPM variation. Engine mounts and mounting structure checked for integrity. Spark plugs removed and examined for condition.
- Metal in the Oil
Reviewing the engine oil condition is important, but removing the oil filter to examine for metal shards – the presence of which could indicate that there is excessive wear in the crank case – could uncover a major problem just waiting to occur.
- Exhaust System
Is the exhaust baffling in good condition? Is it rusted through? A proper evaluation will provide insight into this common area of concern.
- Check the Flight Controls
Are the operations of the controls smooth and functioning? These should be checked through their range of motion.
- Airframe Integrity
A visual examination of the airframe by a trained eye may reveal signs of past or present damage. Are there signs of corrosion that could potentially be a safety issue?
- Wheels, Tires, and Brakes
Let’s face it; these parts are important as they are needed most when it comes time to bring you home. Wheels should be reviewed for corrosion, tire condition inspected for excessive wear, and disc brakes checked for allowable wear.
- Avionics and Autopilot
Operation of electronic components checked.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the items that should be looked at. A complete Pre-Purchase Evaluation will cover many more items, parts, and mechanical areas of your aircraft.
The peace of mind of an evaluation like this is certainly worth the relatively minimal expense in knowing whether or not further investment into a purchase should be considered. However, for a truly comprehensive review of any aircraft, we recommend that a complete 100-hour check or Annual Inspection be performed by a certified IA.
With years of combined experience from which to pool thoughts and ideas regarding the many different makes and models of aircraft, count on the Sky Manor Air Repair team of IA’s and A&P’s to offer a discerning review of the one that you would like to purchase.
To learn more –
Contact the Sky Manor Air Repair Team today!