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5 Things To Do Before Purchasing a Plane

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Imagine the freedom that could come from being able to move around the country without the hassle of booking commerical airline tickets. Perhaps you would enjoy heading to a fancy dinner in San Francisco, or catching a fun show in New York, or flying over the beautiful Grand Canyon just to see how it looks at sunset. The dream of owning a plane is unlike any other, but it does require quite a bit of planning and forethought to achieve. Here are five things to do before you purchase your first plane:

1. Get an Inspection
One absolutely critical step in the process of achieving plane ownership is thoroughly understanding the importance of performing an aircraft inspection. An inspection should be performed prior to closing the deal on any plane you intend to purchase, and once you own the airplane, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires yearly inspections of your plane. These inspections help identify any maintenance issues so they don't become a problem when you are thousands of feet in the air. Inspections can also reveal previous flight information that may be valuable to understand the aircraft's history.

2. Identify True Needs
Before any major purchase, it's a great idea to separate those "wish list" items from the features you actually need. For example, you might require a certain seating capacity for your aircraft, but having an upgraded leather interior or other bells and whistles may not be necessary to achieve your flight goals. By identifying the aircraft features you most need, you are more likely to stay within your spending limit and obtain a plane that serves you well in the long run.

3. Make a Budget
It's a great idea to sit down and calculate how much you can spend on your new purchase. Be realistic, and make an appropriate budget that takes into account your personal income, savings, as well as any other debts or expenses. You are much less likely to overspend or be persuaded into purchasing something you don't need when you have a firm idea for your own budget. As part of your budget, you should take into consideration not only the cost of purchasing and maintaining your aircraft each year, but also the cost to store it. The cost of storage can be substantial and should be factored into your total monthly commitment.

4. Get Financing
If you're fortunate enough to be able to pay cash for your airplane, well done! However, most people will look to obtain a loan in order to finance this particular dream. Make sure you do your homework by talking with different lending agencies and settling on one that you feel comfortable with. Shop for a good interest rate, just like you would when purchasing a new home or vehicle. If necessary, work to improve your credit score by paying down other debt before you purchase your plane. Don't feel pressured to stretch your budget beyond a monthly payment that feels comfortable to you.

5. Plan for Future Maintenance
When calculating your budget, make sure you plan for future maintenance, including regular part replacement, cost of inspections, fluid replacement and other costs. Also take into account landing fees, which vary based on location. Think about the destinations where you are most likely to travel, and estimate the number of times you will visit to determine an average cost to land your plane at the nearest airport. Finally, you'll want to think about how many hours you plan to travel each year. There is a big difference between 50 hours and 200 hours of flying when it comes to maintenance costs!

By following these simple tips, you'll be able to enjoy the clear blue sky without the stress of wondering if you can truly afford it. You'll never regret investing in your financial well-being as you transition into a life that includes the ultimate luxury of plane ownership.

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