When dealing with high dollar transactions, mistakes in missing something can be very expensive. Even in a very hot market, like our current one, you need to ask yourself, is it worth the risk not to do a proper pre buy and due diligence on the records when you are already paying top dollar?
There are plenty of misconceptions about the pre buy inspection or evaluation as some shops like to call them. Unless a chapter 5 inspection is part of the pre buy, nothing is signed off except airworthy squawks that were found and corrected.
Another misconception is an aircraft coming out of a major inspection. Do you really need to do a pre buy? The answer is a definite yes. You might not need to do a deep pre buy, but you still need to borescope the engines for FOD, do a records review and inspect known areas of potential issues.
There are several issues that are not looked at in certain inspections. One example is on the Hawker 900XP engine cowl fairings. They are not inspected on the calendar inspections and only on a hourly check. Each type of aircraft has its own nuance and areas that need special attention that may not come up on that last “major” inspection. By the way, those 900XP fairings are a high crack item that can run over $100K depending on how many are cracked and if they need replaced with new. That could double the next scheduled hourly inspection cost.
Aircraft records are another item that often are not looked at a major inspection. They will review service bulletins and airworthiness directives, but they will not go back and check for 337’s, and unless removing a part, not check for the 8130 or EASA tag. Those are the items that you do on a records check during a pre buy.
Most of us in the industry have many stories on missing paper work and the hassles that presents for getting on a charter certificate or when you sell the plane. I know of one case, a tag was missing on one of the landing gear. It was caught after several years and resulted in the owner having to pay to have the gear overhauled again, just because the paperwork was missing. Indeed, a very expensive piece of paper.
As a buyer you should insist on, at a minimum, a records review, borescopes of the initial fan section and potential problem areas that are particular to that make and model of aircraft. You are already paying top dollar, there is no reason to pay more either at the next inspection or when you sell in a few years.
As a seller, allowing for a pre buy might be legally advisable. While all aircraft are ultimatley sold “AS IS WHERE IS” pushing back on not allowing a pre buy and then later the buyer finding there was a major incident and the seller did not allow him to do any due diligence could lead to an interesting set of events. Any lawyers want to comment on this one?
Having a professional on your side that knows what to look for and what is not looked at in a major inspection that is a potential problem area is money well spent. Having a professional broker on your side that insists on at least a minimum pre buy is looking out for your best interests. If enough professionals stand up, we can make this potentially expensive issue go away.
Hawkeye Aircraft Acquisitions