Why Prebuy?

You've already made the decision to buy an aircraft. Now what? Before you make an offer, enlist the help of a knowledgeable and experienced prebuy expert. Your dream aircraft may have a few skeletons in the closet that you'll want to know about before signing the dotted line. According to aviation attorney J. Scott Hamilton, one of the biggest reasons for litigation over aircraft purchases is neglecting to perform an adequate pre-purchase inspection. While some sellers may deter you from performing a prebuy, it is your right as a buyer, and should be part of your purchase agreement.

Avweb reports the average age of the General Aviation fleet is 30 years old, making a comprehensive prebuy more important than ever before. The purpose of a prebuy is to help you determine the true value of the aircraft, verify the aircraft is legal to buy, and uncover defects and discrepancies that could affect the value or safety of the aircraft. Interestingly, prebuys are not required by the FAA, which is a major reason why they are often overlooked. However, neglecting to perform a quality prebuy could be the worst decision you ever make. While not mandated by the FAA, many lenders do require a prebuy inspection to secure financing.

Remember, once you've signed the dotted line, all the problems are yours. According to FAR Part 91.403(a), the owner or operator is primarily responsible for maintaining the aircraft in an airworthy condition, including compliance with all applicable Airworthiness Directives (AD).

Everything you need to know about airplane prebuys and aircraft pre-purchase inspections.


You're familiar with Pilot-In-Command, but what about Buyer-In-Command? If you want to take control of the purchase process, you must start with a detailed prebuy. When you enlist The Prebuy Guys, we will act as your mentor and agent during the buying process. We will help coordinate the prebuy and flight test as well as coach you through the negotiations. We come to the airplane, so there is no need to pay to have it flown to an outside mechanic or shop. If you choose, you or your mechanic can attend the prebuy to get a first hand look at the aircraft.

We will keep you informed during each phase of the prebuy process. Upon completion, we will present you with a detailed written report with our findings, as well as estimated costs of repairs and solutions to possible airworthiness discrepancies. The results of the prebuy will help you determine if you want to buy the aircraft. In many cases, the seller will agree to correct defects at their expense, or agree to renegotiate the sales price. 

What do your prebuys include?

Ultimately, you determine the scope, detail and complexity of the prebuy evaluation based on your requirements. However, our prebuys can include the following:

Prebuy vs. Annual Inspection

A question we often get is, "The airplane just had an annual. Isn't that an adequate prebuy?" While many prospective airplane owners think an annual will suffice for a prebuy, this simply isn't true. This is because annual inspections are not designed to find items that affect the overall value of the aircraft. In short, annuals and prebuys have different objectives, utilize different methods and yield different results.

Annuals are limited in scope and meant to find safety of flight issues - not cost of ownership issues. In most cases, annuals are organized by the seller, meaning there is no one there to represent you and your interests. Plus, the aircraft may have to be flown to a mechanic or maintenance facility which may cost you even more time and money. If you have annual done in place of a prebuy, the annual must be completed regardless of whether you decide the buy the aircraft - at your expense! Finally, the results of the annual inspection must be made in the aircraft's logbook(s) with an approval for return to service, and all airworthiness defects must be corrected.

On the other hand, a prebuy inspection is unlimited in scope and can be as comprehensive as you see fit. It is specifically tailored for the make and model aircraft and you may discontinue the examination at any time. Prebuys look for different things - How has the aircraft been utilized? Where has it been stored? Who possesses the title? How frequently has the aircraft flown? Are there signs of damage or major repairs? Has the airplane ever made a gear up landing? Has the airplane ever been on fire? Is the equipment listed on the specifications actually in the airplane? How does the airplane fly? As you can see, there are many things that an annual does not tell you. Even the most honest and forthcoming sellers may not have these answers.

Simply put, an annual is not a substitute for a quality prebuy.