What Do Aircraft Sales and Buyers Look for in Technical Maintenance Records?
How to add value to a ’57 Chevy or a G550.
Any collector will tell you that the easiest way to add big money to the selling price of a truly classic car is to have all of the documentation available to the prospective buyer. Original window sticker, owner’s manuals, receipts for all the maintenance or restoration work – the more complete the car’s history, the higher the selling price.
Too bad, so many aircraft owners haven’t caught on to that little trick. When someone sets out to buy an airplane they’ll ask how many hours are on it? What avionics does it have? What condition is the paint and interior in? When was the last engine overhaul/inspection? Pretty much everything but how correct and complete are the logbooks and records?
Unfortunately, these things usually doesn’t come up until the prospective buyer is already “sold” on acquiring that airplane. Only then do they involve their mechanic or technical representative to take the time to “go through the logbooks.”
That’s a big mistake on both the buyer’s and seller’s part. Why? Well, those very logbooks are about the only way to know if that aircraft is actually legal and airworthy. Ever hear the old saying, “Buying a pig in a poke”? How about buying a Piper in poke…same thing.
Talk to any qualified aircraft broker or dealer, and they’ll tell you that its commonly accepted that complete logs account for 30-percent or more of an aircraft’s ramp value. An airplane with incomplete, or heaven-forbid, missing logs has little or no market value – at least not amongst reputable buyers and sellers.
If you ever see anyone advertising an airplane for sale “as it is,” ask yourself what does as it is mean? As it is the only one of its kind still airworthy? Or, as it is a piece of junk that’s only being held together by the paint??
And don’t for a minute think that some unscrupulous sellers won’t doctor their logbooks. Some very savvy buyers have been taken in by falsified records. It’s especially easy to fudge the books on older aircraft. Hand a prospective buyer a couple legal filing boxes full of receipts and a stack of dirty, smudged logbooks and even the sharpest of buyers can be fooled.
So, what’s a conscientious aircraft buyer or seller to do? From a buyer’s perspective, place having the condition and completeness of the aircraft’s logbooks and documentation checked by an A&P mechanic who is experienced with this make and model of aircraft at the top of your list. If any particular airplane or helicopter doesn’t have exceptional logs, then move on. There are plenty more where that one came from.
As the buyer, make it your responsibility– or that of whoever maintains your airplane – to keep your new aircraft’s logs as tidy as possible for as long as your name is on the title. Sooner or later, every aircraft buyer becomes an aircraft seller. And, knowing how much value those documents are adding to the selling price is when you’ll be able to ask and get top-dollar for that airplane.
Oh, and with regards to searching through all of the records and documents, there’s another way you can help add value and accuracy to the process. Have all of the aircraft’s current and on-going records digitized by Bluetail.
Having all of the documents easily searchable and sharable will show anyone interesting in acquiring that aircraft, that you took its ongoing maintenance to heart.