Question: How do I buy a jet?
Answer: Write a big fat check!
Sorry, that's an old joke... it's usually followed by a statement like "write a whole bunch of checks"
But seriously... if one did want to buy a jet, where would you begin?
I would like to quote one of our clients...
"I've bought and sold a lot of airplanes in my life, what did I learn?
I learned to hire someone like Chip to do it for me!"
It is true, the most important step in buying a jet is to hire someone you can trust to do it for you!
The reality is that when buying a jet there are some big checks involved, the one you write to a consultant or acquisition firm will probably be on the smaller side. The cost of going alone, that can be expensive.
I founded Jet Acquisitions with one goal in mind, to work for buyers. We are not aircraft brokers, we do not work for sellers and we do not list aircraft for sale. Why would we turn away such a substantial amount of business? It's simple. I believe in doing one thing and doing it very well.
We love buying airplanes, it's what we do and we are good at it.
How do you buy a jet?
The hard part for most buyers is determining which aircraft to buy, there are multiple categories including acquisition cost and annual budget, plus of course desired payload, range and speed.
TIP - Only in fishing will you find taller tales than those told in aviation. Don't believe an airplane will do X just because the guy trying to sell it to you said it would.
Once we have decided on the type of aircraft we make a list of potential airplanes, we refer to this as the "short list" in other words I may send our client information on all of the aircraft I find so he can look at each of them, but I'm working on a short list with my top 3-5 airplanes on it.
We use a variety of resources to find aircraft, but about half the airplanes we buy are "off market" meaning they are not advertised on websites like controller.com and aso.com or publications like Trade-a-plane. We include aircraft listed on these sites but our search is much more comprehensive. At Jet Acquisitions we have access to information regarding off market aircraft that is not available to the public. Plus, we have relationships with stocking aircraft dealers and aircraft manufacturers, some of our best purchases are aircraft being traded in, these off-market airplanes seldom make it to the retail market.
TIP- Don't buy anything until you have considered ALL of your options. Less than ten percent of the average fleet of aircraft is actually listed for sale, even though at this very moment, many aircraft owners are considering their replacement aircraft.
Once an airplane has made our short list the negotiations have begun, it is important to remember that every contact with a potential seller is a negotiation. That first phone call is a first impression and it needs to be professional and courteous. The seller or their agent needs to understand from the start that we represent serious buyers, we will do what we say we will do and by selling the airplane to us they can expect a smooth and timely closing with fewer headaches than expected.
TIP- People sell airplanes to people they like! I routinely negotiate a better deal than the next guy based on the relationship and mutual respect I am able to build with the seller.
The perfect airplane makes it to the top of the list... then what?
Research. Lots of research. I want to know everything possible about that airplane before my client makes an offer or we spend time and money going to look at it. It's a lot of work but this is an area where we save a lot of effort as well as a lot of money.
Once we've done our "remote" due diligence there's no substitute for going to inspect the airplane and it's records. We feel so strongly that the aircraft's records are as important as the aircraft itself, we typically spend as much time inspecting the records of a potential aircraft as we do the airframe itself.
An aircraft's logbook is the story of it's life, written page by page
by the men who have cared for it and kept it's passengers safe.
The process of inspecting the aircraft is pretty straightforward, a good visual inspection of the aircraft and taking the time to read the books and discover its story. Once this step is complete, in most cases we'll order a bore-scope inspection of the aircraft's engines. Assuming all is well, we'll execute a purchase agreement and move the aircraft to a maintenance facility for a mechanical inspection.
Managing the pre-purchase inspection is very important, this is where most airplane deals fall apart. When an airplane deal falls apart, no one is happy, the obvious result is that the seller is upset that their airplane didn't sell, but the buyer loses too. The time and effort is considerable and depending on the type of airplane there's the cost of moving the aircraft including pilots and fuel, and the terms of the prebuy usually dictate that the purchaser will pay the cost of the inspection, the cost of a failed deal is often twenty-five to fifty thousand dollars!
In some cases it's just a bad airplane or an unforeseen mechanical issue, but if the initial visual inspection was done properly there shouldn't be any surprises at the inspection facility. The likely culprit is a lack of someone intentionally managing the process and communicating daily with all parties involved. We have never lost a deal in prebuy, there have been several airplanes that did not pass our visual that would not have passed a pre-purchase inspection, but of those that we have inspected visually and sent to prebuy, every single one has completed the process and closed.
TIP - Never buy an airplane without doing a thorough pre-purchase inspection... it just isn't worth the risk.
Closing is typically one of the higher stress components of the purchase. There's a lot of moving pieces and it's hard for someone who buys one airplane to know all of the details necessary for closing. Not all title companies are created equally, some are proactive and will make sure you know what you will need to close, others wait. It's almost always the buyer who struggles getting things prepared for closing, this can be embarrassing and often delays the closing causing more stress and missed trips.
We do this day in and day out, we know the title companies, who to use and who to avoid. We know what they will need and when. We know that the bank is going to be a day late no matter what...
It's all the little details, it's knowing what to expect, it's doing one thing and doing it well.
How do you buy a jet?
Hire the experts, let us work for you. We'll negotiate the best deal possible, on the best airplane on or off the market, we'll make sure the entire purchase goes smoothly and that when you're ready for your next jet your first call will be to Jet Acquisitions.