aircraft finance

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Best Time to Sell an Older Jet see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses the ideal time to sell an older aircraft. 

    Above and beyond the upfront cost savings, benefits to acquiring a used jet in great condition include avoiding much of the increased depreciation that besets aircraft in those early years. Of note to sellers, the inventory for well-maintained, 15-year old or younger turbine aircraft is severely limited. That translates into high demand and a market that's in your favor.

    As with many things, putting an older, well-maintained jet on the market involves the right timing. It may sound counterintuitive, but the best time to sell an older jet is right after you’ve done the scheduled, heavy maintenance on it, after you've brought your jet up to date on all of its maintenance events. 

    A jet's optimum selling price point occurs when the aircraft has its lowest maintenance exposure to asking price ratio (ETP). That ratio is expressed as the value of an aircraft as a percentage of unaddressed maintenance due on an aircraft versus the overall market value of the aircraft. When the ETP is at its lowest is also when the aircraft is most desirable. That's why historically, planes that have the lowest ETP tend to sell the quickest. 

    To be clear, this does not include avionics upgrades, only scheduled maintenance. Retrofitting avionics on older jets is not just an expensive proposition, it's also a subjective one. The vast range of options available make it virtually impossible to please everybody. Plus, the money a seller sinks into new avionics probably will not be recouped in the sale. It's better therefore to let the new buyer install the avionics suite of their dreams post-acquisition.

    If it's possible, coordinating the completion of heavy maintenance items with the start of the last quarter of the calendar allows the owner of an older, well-maintained jet to take advantage of the best calendar time of the year to sell it--September through December. That's because many businesses have a fiscal year and a calendar year that parallel each other. Those that do tend to more closely assess ways to manage their bottom line as they approach Q4. That heightened focus on the year-end clarifies whether selling the jet or acquiring one is an appropriate income offset option. For many, it's the perfect time.

    And then there's the tax incentive. When the dollar amounts are more significant and an aircraft is used in business—the possibility of a tax deduction of 100% of the cost of the aircraft does exist, based on the current tax law in place.

    To be fair, getting to 100% is really difficult and the inherent landmines are many. At AOPA Aviation Finance, we strongly advise anybody pursuing that goal to talk to their tax experts before attempting such a course of action. I should also point out that the latest regulations that came through in 2017 closed some significant aviation-related loopholes. For instance, capital gains deferment into another aircraft purchase is no longer a legal option. A discussion with your accountant on how you’re going to manage your tax liability is a must. When you do go to sell, there will be capital gains tax implications. 

    Bottom line: If you own a well-maintained, older jet and it's fresh out of maintenance, now's the best time to consider selling it. ETP is low and demand is high.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on November 18, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    If It Seems Too Good To Be True... see more

    NAFA member Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, shares what's important when financing your aircraft. 

    Thanks to recent, historically low interest rates, AOPA Aviation Finance (“AAF”) has been approached more and more frequently with similar versions of the same story. It goes like this: Somebody they know got a fantastic offer with a phenomenal rate--like 2.9%--on their latest airplane acquisition. Then they want to know if they can get the same deal. When we tell them the reality of that happening is extremely slim, disappointment is always the resulting sentiment. 

    Here’s why deals like that just don’t happen. A bank must make money on the loans it services, otherwise it fails. It costs banks money to acquire the money they loan to customers. The rate they pay for that money is called the “cost of funds.” For example, they might buy a five-year note from the Treasury at 1.66%. That is their cost of funds. The difference between the lending rate charged to their customers and a bank’s cost of funds is the “net interest margin.”

    That net interest margin is a bank’s primary income stream. All expenses, from salaries to rent to utilities, etc. are debited from that net interest margin. Those healthy reserves banks must maintain to cover losses from bad loans also come out of that same source. Even though the cost of funds for each bank is unique to their circumstances, that figure is typically based upon a universally-recognized benchmark like the overall yield curve of the US Treasuries.

    For illustrative purposes, let’s say the bank bought five-year Treasury notes @ 1.66%. Their cost of business is 166 basis points. Typically, banks tend to start lending at 200 basis points above their cost of business. Let’s face it, that starting point is for a bank’s best customers—folks with cash collateral, amazing credit, are well-known to the bank, etc. Doing the math, 200 basis points above a 1.66% cost of business equals 366, or 3.66%, so….

    For a bank to offer a client a 2.9% interest rate, or 290 basis points, on an aircraft loan, given the above example would mean the bank would have to be willing to reduce its net interest margin from 200 basis points to only 124. What would possess a bank structure such a “skinny deal?” After all, as one of my graduate school finance professors used to repeat incessantly, “There’s no free lunch.” 

    A deep-pocketed client who is very familiar to the lending bank and whose investments are already being fee-managed by that bank could be one reason a bank might make an exception to the rule. AOPA Aviation Finance recently brokered a super mid cabin, new aircraft deal valued at over 20 million dollars. The borrower had an existing relationship with a bank where AAF had an existing relationship with its aircraft group. The bank wasn't aware that our client was looking to purchase an aircraft, and the client wasn’t aware his bank had an aircraft financing group.

    Because we had relationships with both, we were able to articulate the reasons for keeping the deal in-house. The bank was already very familiar with the client and his financials; the bank’s aviation group had done several deals of this size and type before; the client’s substantial financial holdings with the bank allowed the bank to stipulate, and the borrower to agree to, using his accounts as collateral for the loan. 

    Banks love to leverage liquid assets over the airplane. It’s much easier to reach into an account to make oneself whole if a loan goes bad than it is to sell an aircraft, no matter how popular the model. And not insignificantly, pointing out that allowing another bank to finance the aircraft would open the door to that other financial institution potentially enticing the client (and their money) away, helped motivate our client getting, far and away, the most competitive rate and best structure possible.

    Still, that’s a very rare, real world example. That said, AOPA Aviation Finance may find great deals for folks who’ve got investments with certain lenders. At the end of the day, whether your financial situation is typical or “unicorn,” our process will match you up with the best lender for your circumstances. 

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on December 10, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Aircraft Finance Specialists Joins National Aircraft Finance Association see more

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    EDGEWATER, Md. – Feb. 3, 2020 – National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is pleased to announce that Aircraft Finance Specialists has recently joined its professional network of aviation service providers. 

    “NAFA members form a network of aviation finance services who diligently and competently operate with integrity and objectivity throughout the world. We’re excited to welcome Aircraft Finance Specialists to our growing organization as we head to our 50th anniversary,” said Jim Blessing, president of NAFA.

    Aircraft Finance Specialists’ objective is to secure the best financing terms to fit their clients’ needs. The company provides financing solutions for corporate and personal acquisition or refinance of jets and turboprops. 

    With decades of banking experience, the team at Aircraft Finance Specialists uses their wide breadth of industry knowledge and their specialty focus to market client transactions to multiple financial institutions. 

    Much like NAFA, Aircraft Finance Specialists' is dedicated to the aviation industry – delivering high quality and specialized service to their clients. 

    "Aircraft Finance Specialists is proud to join NAFA to ensure our customers are on the leading edge of information as it relates to financing trends within the marketplace,” stated Jonathan Robinett, President of the company.

    For more information about Aircraft Finance Specialists, visit nafa.aero/companies/aircraft-finance-specialists.

    About NAFA:  

    The National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is a non-profit corporation dedicated to promoting the general welfare of individuals and organizations providing aircraft financing and loans secured by aircraft; to improving the industry's service to the public; and to providing our members with a forum for education and the sharing of information and knowledge to encourage the financing, leasing and insuring of general aviation aircraft. For more information about NAFA, visit NAFA.aero.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Structuring a Deal - Aircraft Value is Fundamental see more

    NAFA member, Gary Crichlow, Director of Aviation Finance for Arc & Co., discusses aircraft value.

    One basic axiom drives the due diligence that aircraft financiers undertake, and informs the requirements they impose: Aircraft depreciate in value over time.

    While there are many definitions of “value,” the one that matters to a financier is the price a buyer would agree to if the financier ever had to sell. Whether as a scheduled plan to take the aircraft back at the end of an operating lease, or as a contingency plan to sell due to a repossession, financiers need a strategy for actually turning a highly engineered piece of metal into enough cash to cover their outstanding exposure. 

    To do this, financiers typically employ three tactics: 

    1.  Avoid 100% Reliance On the Aircraft Value – Aircraft values can be volatile, and most financiers hedge their bets by looking to the client’s creditworthiness for security, as well as recourse to a guarantee and/or additional collateral.

    Making This Work for You: Generally, the more a lender can take security in your creditworthiness and guarantee rather than the asset value, the less expensive they’ll be. The keys are understanding what security you can offer in exchange for a financing package, and finding the financier that suits you accordingly. 

    2.  Conserve the Value Position – Financiers look to minimize the amount of cash they’d have to realize from a sale by capping the amount they’ll advance, amortizing the balance as aggressively as they can, and imposing a loan-to-value covenant — a mechanism giving the financier the right to call for additional pay-downs to keep the outstanding principal below a certain percentage of the aircraft’s value. While these tactics are relatively simple to understand, in practice, a financier’s ability to actually implement them depends greatly on the competitiveness of the market. Back in 2008, a frenzied market saw interest-only deals (zero amortization) and 100% advances; today, advances average in the 70-80% range, with 90%+ deals only in the most competitive areas of the market (e.g. the U.S. domestic market, and the global market for the uppermost-tier clients).

    Making This Work for You: A financier’s flexibility on the terms they offer – and enforce – will depend on how much competition there is for your business. It’s always a good idea to seek alternative offers and compare terms.

    3.  Protect the Aircraft’s Value – Financiers insist on measures that protect the asset’s value, and – just as importantly – their access to it. Since aircraft are depreciating assets, once a financier takes control of it (whether as a repossession or a scheduled off-lease handback) it’s basically a race against time to realize as much value from it as they can.  

    This is why they tend to require enrollment in hourly maintenance support programs; restrict the choice of governing law, aircraft registration, and operator to jurisdictions and entities with whom they’re comfortable; expect regular usage reports; and require periodic audits of the aircraft and operator. They also will insist on a tripartite agreement: a contract between them, you, and the operator that binds the operator to deliver the aircraft and records to the financier if there’s a default. These measures are intended to keep the aircraft marketable, provide the financier advance warning of trouble and, if necessary, recover the aircraft quickly.

    Making This Work for You: Consider that the same measures which protect an aircraft’s value also protect its safe and high-quality operation. It all comes down to looking after the aircraft: controlling the aircraft’s usage and upkeep by well-trained, well-resourced, diligent personnel. The financier wants to be assured of a well-looked-after aircraft. And a well-looked-after aircraft is what you want to be flying. 

    This article was originally published by Business Aviation Advisor on January 1, 2020.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Deposits see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses when a deposit is required and why during your aircraft deal.

    Typically, larger airplane transactions require deposits, specifically, deals of a million dollars or more. Why do lenders ask for a deposit? As the old saying goes, “Trust, but verify.” 

    Larger transactions tend to involve assessing more sophisticated, more complicated financials. Often multiple legal entities may be involved. Each of the entities need to be reviewed, requiring substantially more due diligence. The additional due diligence accrues additional costs in the form of time, resources, third-party background checks, and other checks and searches. All of those things equate to unavoidable upfront costs. 

    Understandably, a lender is loath to go out of pocket on a transaction after putting forth so much effort. It’s not enough to trust that a borrower is committed to the deal. A deposit verifies that commitment. The size of the deposit depends on the selling price. It’s usually proportional, ranging from a couple thousand dollars up to one percent of what’s been negotiated. 

    It’s always prudent to expect to submit a deposit, even when the topic isn’t initially mentioned. Deposit discussions generally occur after a term sheet--a broad estimate of structure-- is drawn up and then agreed to by both parties. Only once the borrower agrees to the terms and conditions and decides to move forward should a deposit discussion take place. Anything sooner should fire off alarm bells.

    If your transaction requires a deposit, we cannot overstate the importance of dealing with a trusted financial institution or escrow company If in doubt, give AOPA Aviation Finance a call. We work with trusted escrow agents all the time. We will help you find one with which both parties to your transaction can feel comfortable. 

    If you’re working through a bank, our position is that institution is an appropriate place to hold the deposit. If you’re not working with a bank, we strongly recommend an escrow agent to handle that duty. In past articles, I referenced using third-party escrow services to hold the deposit. That’s because there are occasions when it is better to have an escrow agent bear the burden. A broker or a private party seller are examples of entities which are not highly regulated, if at all. As such they don’t have as much exposure to liability and are proportionally more difficult to extract compensation from should the deal go awry, compared to highly regulated banks. 

    Escrow companies tend to carry errors and omissions insurance, and many of the good ones are also bonded. Neither of those assurances match the accountability found in banking regulations, though. With your deposit at a bank, regulators and regulations back you in the event the deal goes sideways.

    Enlisting the services of someone trusted like AOPA Aviation Finance will ensure whomever you work with is properly vetted, and that you are working with reputable folks. Regardless of whom you add to your team to work on the deal, important questions to ask and get answered before putting down a deposit include, “Are you bonded? What errors and omissions insurance do you have? Do you have references from satisfied customers? Have you ever been sued?”

    This article was originally published by AOPA Finance on December 10, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    The Aircraft Buyer’s Guide to Private Jet Financing see more

    NAFA member, H. Lee Rohde, III, founder, President and CEO of Essex Aviation Group, Inc., shares tips on private jet financing.

    Even for high-net-worth individuals, whether to purchase a private aircraft might rank as one of the most expensive — and, potentially, lifestyle-changing — decisions they’ll ever make. From upfront costs to the ongoing costs of maintenance, hangarage and direct operating costs, private aircraft ownership requires a significant capital investment but, for those who frequently fly for business or personal reasons, it provides unparalleled travel experiences.

    The fact of the matter is that the comfort, convenience, luxury and freedom that private aviation offers would be compelling to just about anyone and considered well worth the cost by those who can afford it — so let’s talk about the options to best structure it through private jet financing.

    Let’s Talk Costs

    Before a buyer kickstarts their search for a private aviation lender, they’ll first want to thoroughly consider the costs of purchasing a private jet. Conservative estimates place the cost of a brand-new private jet between $7 million and $75 million, while the most expensive private aircraft in the world — those of commercial size but modified for private use — cost well above that range.

    For those buyers hoping to minimize their capital investment in an aircraft, acquiring a pre-owned aircraft can offer many of the same benefits as a new model with a reduced capital cost. However, for the following new aircraft, current industry data included in the VREF Aircraft Value Reference Guide offers some perspective on pricing and just how expansive the private jet financing industry is.

     

    Aircraft Manufacturer Model & Retail Price in Millions
    Bombardier • Lear 75: $13.8m
    • Challenger 650: $32.4m
    • Global 5000: $50.4m
    • Global 6000: $62.3m
    • Global 7500: $72.8m
    Cessna • Citation M2: $5m
    • Citation CJ3+: $8.6m
    • Citation CJ4: $9.6m
    • Citation XLS+: $13.6m
    • Citation Latitude: $17.3m
    • Citation Sovereign 680+: $18.8m
    Embraer • Phenom 100 EV: $4.5m
    • Phenom 300: $9m
    • Legacy 450: $16.6m
    • Praetor 500: $17m
    • Praetor 600: $21m
    • Legacy 650E: $26m
    • Lineage: $50m
    Dassault • Falcon 2000S: $30m
    • Falcon 2000LXS: $35.1m
    • Falcon 900LX: $44.8m
    • Falcon 7X: $53.8m
    • Falcon 8X: $59.3m
    Gulfstream • G500: $46.5m
    • G600: $57.9m
    • G650: $69.5m
    Pilatus • PC-24: $9.5m

    Choosing the Right Lender

    The road to private aircraft ownership should begin with the decision to retain the services of an aviation consultant or a jet financing broker. It is the responsibility of an aviation consultant to understand the buyer’s needs and situation to direct them to an appropriate tax attorney and, ultimately viable lenders and financing structures. Once the consultant has completed these steps, the process of researching lenders, requesting and reviewing lender proposals and working with the client or the client’s team is fairly straightforward. A consultant’s primary contribution is to apply their knowledge and considerable network of industry connections to facilitate the financing solution that best serves the client’s unique needs and requirements.

    High-net-worth individuals often partner with aviation consultants and finance brokers through their private wealth advisors or in-house finance team in order to identify the best options available. Clients in different segments of the market who might not have the same level of in-house financing staff to support their needs can also benefit from assembling a team of third-party experts within the private aviation industry. Whether they’re working with an in-house finance team, a third-party private aviation consultant or an aircraft finance broker to evaluate lenders, buyers have three private jet financing options from which to choose:

    1. Traditional Banks: For most buyers, utilizing their current bank can be the most efficient choice for jet financing due to their existing relationship. The bank already has a complete portfolio of the buyer’s finances, which can make the loan process that much more efficient.
    2. Banks With Aircraft Finance Groups: In the event that a buyer’s current bank cannot provide jet financing, it may still be able to use its industry connections to put the buyer in touch with a different bank that has a dedicated aircraft finance group. These institutions specifically have a vested interest in private jet financing and already manage a large aircraft portfolio and would therefore be more inclined to offer private jet financing to a buyer without an existing relationship.
    3. Private Lending Groups: This type of lender is able to provide private jet financing by raising capital within equity markets to support their portfolio growth. Though private aircraft lenders are less common than their traditional banking counterparts, they are a viable option for buyers who, for whatever reason, wish to avoid securing a loan with their primary bank or a traditional bank. Buyers who choose to pursue this private jet financing option are still advised to work with a private aviation consultant and tax attorney to confirm the lender’s position in the market and whether it’s a suitable option for the buyer in question.

    Criteria for Private Jet Financing Evaluation

    It is, understandably, in a lender’s best interest to be highly discerning about who it grants private jet financing to and how much it lends. Therefore, similar to home mortgage lenders, private aircraft lenders have strict criteria for evaluating potential borrowers, as well as additional portfolio parameters based on the age and models of aircraft they’re able to finance.

    For buyers who want a better understanding of this criteria, look no further than the “5 Cs” of credit: character, capital, capacity, collateral and conditions.

    • Character refers to the borrower’s reputation and the stability of their credit.
    • Capital refers to the borrower’s net worth and the types of capital assets they currently own.
    • Capacity refers to the borrower’s ability to pay on the loan, as well as their current debt-to-income ratio.
    • Collateral refers to the assets that the borrower is able to pledge to secure the loan.
    • And, finally, conditions refer to how the borrower intends to use the aircraft, as well as external factors such as pending legislation that could affect the loan and the current state of the economy.

    Buyers should be aware that most lenders have specific loan covenants, and that their lender of choice might require periodic reviews of the aircraft’s market value and also organize third-party inspections to determine whether the aircraft is being kept in the proper condition.

    Alternatives to Private Jet Ownership

    For individuals who want to replicate the experience of owning their own aircraft without having to worry about securing private jet financing, there are multiple alternatives to outright ownership:

    • Private Jet Lease: The individual leases an aircraft from the owner for a specified period of time and assumes full operational control — similar to direct ownership — without transferring the aircraft title. Private jet leasing offers similar operational benefits, which can make it a viable option for buyers who are not able to take advantage of the tax benefits that direct ownership can provide. In some cases, however, private jet leasing agreements preclude the lessee from using the aircraft for third-party charter (FAR Part 135).
    • Fractional Aircraft Ownership: The individual invests in partial ownership by purchasing a share of a specific aircraft type and agrees to an annual amount of flight hours depending on their specific travel needs. Fractional ownership often comes with significant upfront acquisition and monthly operational costs, but fractional owners save on deadhead costs.
    • Private Jet Membership: The individual agrees to a fixed cost per hour at the start of the contract and is billed after each flight. Members are also expected to pay monthly management or annual membership fees.
    • Jet Card Program: The individual either agrees to a predetermined number of hours on a specific aircraft type or size category (dedicated service) or funds an established travel account and chooses the aircraft category on a trip-by-trip basis, after which the cost of trip is calculated and deducted from the account’s balance (debit card service).
    • Private Jet Charter: The individual charters — that is, rents — an aircraft for each specific trip they wish to take. Private jet chartering can be well-suited for individuals with relatively low annual travel requirements, but who fly to areas that cannot be easily reached by scheduled airline service.

    A Final Note

    Buyers interested in purchasing a private jet should assemble a team of professionals to assist them at every step of the process. From sorting out aircraft-specific tax considerationsto hiring an aircraft management company to handle day-to-day operations and support once the purchase is complete, buyers will want to have qualified and capable industry experts on their side — starting with a private aviation consultant.

    At Essex Aviation, we have a combined 70 years of aviation experience; in that time, we’ve had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the private aviation industry, as well as develop strong relationships with service providers and other vendors. We’re able to leverage this knowledge and our vast network of industry connections in order to ensure that our clients’ unique private aviation requirements are met with unbiased guidance and that they have a quality client experience, from start to finish.

    This article was originally published by Essex Aviation Group, Inc.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    How to Build a Business Aircraft Acquisition Plan see more

    NAFA member, David Wyndham, Vice President with Conklin & de Decker, discusses the importance of developing a thorough aircraft acquisition plan.

    With a sense of urgency and a large sum of cash, an aircraft acquisition can be completed rather quickly. However, without a plan or the right team in place, these types of scrambles typically result in the wrong aircraft for the job, or just simply picking the wrong aircraft. To avoid the headache from an impulse purchase, you need to build a business aircraft acquisition plan.

    To begin, there are two fundamental reasons for acquiring new or different aircraft:

    1. The current aircraft can no longer perform the mission, or
    2. The current aircraft is no longer the most cost-effective solution.

    Changes in mission need to be quantified. As an example, one client in the Eastern US started flying shorter trips with fewer people. Their eight-passenger jet, with a 1,800nm range, was more than they needed.

    Instead, they found that a five-passenger airplane that’s more efficient on short trips might be the next aircraft for them.

    But how can you quantify what it is that you need and want? Economics are critical. The cost of an aircraft is more than the acquisition price alone. It encompasses the total costs needed to operate the aircraft and allow for a future residual value.

    As an example, a single aircraft that meets 98% of usage requirements may cost far more than an aircraft that meets 85% of your needs with a supplemental jet card, charter or fractional solution in place for the remaining 15%.

    What Should Your Acquisition Plan Include?

    It is important for you to understand what it costs to own and operate the aircraft – and this will all come into your acquisition plan. So, what should your acquisition plan include?

    An aircraft acquisition plan must (at a minimum):

    • Identify, quantify and differentiate your needs and wants;
    • Identify and rank the possible aircraft types by mission capability; and
    • Analyze all the costs involved with the aircraft.

    Your plan should be void of emotional issues and stay as far from subjective criteria as possible. To help in this respect, you will need someone who can ask the tough questions and assist with an unbiased analysis of the candidate aircraft.

    Consultants may offer the unbiased review that you initially need, and their feedback will need to cover both technical and financial aspects of the aircraft acquisition.

    Who Should be on Your Acquisition Team?

    As you proceed with the acquisition you need to add expertise across several fields to your team. Tax planning should begin well before the purchase, not after the closing, meaning that you will need to hire someone familiar with taxes as they apply to aviation.

    You will also need to consult a qualified aviation attorney to ensure that the contracts are appropriate and that the various regulatory issues are addressed. A document that looks good from a basic business perspective may not be legal in the eyes of the FAA or other aviation authority.

    Don't overlook the insurance broker, who will need to be kept informed as to when and how the aircraft is to be used. (For example, if the aircraft is to be placed on a management agreement, who and how are each of the parties to that agreement going to be covered?)

    You will also need an aircraft sales professional, who will ideally have an excellent understanding of the aircraft sales market — what the availability is; lead times for various models; who to contact about pre-buy inspections and appraisals; and how long it could take to dispose of your current aircraft.

    Moreover, the aircraft sales professional you hire will need all the qualities required to be an excellent facilitator, since their job will also be to make sure the deal closes and that all parties are happy.

    Additional Planning When Buying New…

    Moreover, if you are buying a new aircraft, specifying all the options, picking out paint, and choosing an interior may take a minimum of six months and may well require the services of additional advisors.

    In Summary…

    Think of your business aircraft acquisition as a “time-is-money” deal. That is, if you don’t have much time, you’ll probably spend even more money! If you are looking to close a deal by the end of this year, you need to be looking seriously right now, and investing in all of the right areas to ensure your acquisition plan results in the right aircraft, at the right cost, at the right time.

    This article was originally published by AvBuyer on October 25, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Choosing an aircraft from a financier's perspective see more

    NAFA member, Gary Crichlow, with Arc & Co. Aviation Finance, discusses points to consider when choosing an aircraft from a financier's perspective.

    In previous articles as part of our Aviation Insight series, we’ve explored the major benefits of availing yourself of aircraft finance: it preserves your cash flow, allowing you to redeploy capital away from a depreciating asset back into your business, or into investments that earn a return. 

    We’ve also looked at the financier’s motivations to extend finance: they need to demonstrate that they can generate an acceptable risk/return balance on the funds they commit against aircraft, in order to protect and enhance their license to operate. 

    With this in mind, we’ll now look at points to consider when choosing an aircraft from a finance-ability point of view. The more strongly these points inform your choice, the more likely it is that you’ll be in a position to secure the benefits of aviation finance without too many of the hurdles.

    1.     Aircraft suitability – financiers like to work with clients that can demonstrate experience and familiarity with the cost of owning or operating an aircraft. Ideal clients will evidence that they either have, or have solicited, the expertise to select an aircraft with a capability that fits their usage needs. The client will have budgeted realistic fixed and variable costs covering insurance, crew, scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, fuel, handling, etc; and can demonstrate the financial wherewithal to comfortably cover those costs.

    2.    Aircraft age– the overwhelming rule of thumb is that the younger the aircraft, the more readily financeable. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with well-maintained older aircraft, and there is a pool of financiers willing to lend against them for the right client; but generally speaking, younger aircraft in the 0-7 year old range are the easiest to finance competitively. 

    3.    Aircraft value – larger deals are generally more attractive. As with older aircraft, there is always finance available for smaller lends (below $5 million) for the right client, but there is a smaller pool to choose from, especially if other aspects of the deal are not straightforward. 

    4.    Aircraft market position – it’s easier to find finance for “liquid” aircraft: types that have a large customer base, are in well-established production and conform to “standard” in terms of capability, configuration and appearance. Financiers are generally more willing to lend money against an asset that they believe would be relatively easy to remarket if they had to. 

    5.    Aircraft maintenance programmes– practically every financier will require that at the very least, the engines be fully enrolled on an hourly maintenance support programme, offered by the manufacturer or by a reputable third-party such as JSSI.

    6.    Aircraft operator– the financier will generally want to be satisfied that the operator is competent, properly certified, reputable and fully independent of the client. You can generally expect a tripartite agreement will be required between the financier, the operator and the client. The purpose of this agreement is to enable the financier, in the event of a default, to have the operator secure the aircraft.

    7.    Aircraft due diligence– the financier will want to satisfy themselves that the aircraft condition is fully explored. For pre-owned aircraft this generally means an in-depth inspection that looks for things like records entries that are missing or not in English, damage history, corrosion, accidents & incidents, etc – the exact same issues that your technical expert should be alerting to you as a prospective buyer.

    8.     Aircraft regulatory compliance– your technical expert should advise on what is required for your usage in terms of, for example, avionics capability e.g. ADS-B, FANS-1/1A compliance (if you don’t understand that jargon, make sure you have a technical expert who does!). Bear in mind that a financier will generally want to see that it is compliant on a global (or at least a US or European) basis, and this includes looking ahead for scheduled upgrades or expected developments over the term of the financing.  

    What it boils down to is this: when evaluating an aircraft finance opportunity, lenders need to do their homework when it comes to the aircraft, and a key part of that is ensuring that you’ve done your homework too. Your interests, and the financier’s, are aligned: you both want comfort that the aircraft you’ve chosen is as it should be.

    This article was originally published by Arc & Co. Aviation Finance on July 15, 2019.

     

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Why Does An Aircraft Loan Take Longer Than A Car Loan? see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, explains the differences between aircraft loans and car loans.

    Most of us have gone through the car buying process and may think buying an aircraft would or should be similar. So, when it takes a day or two to approve a loan we may wonder why it's not as simple as a car loan. AOPA Aviation Finance President Adam Meredith explains the differences including differences in collateral and lifespan.

    Many of us have sat in car dealerships while the salesperson typed our facts and figures into a computer and within 10 to 20 minutes, there it is: We’re approved for a car loan. So why can’t a $45,000 airplane loan be that simple? Airplane loans take a day or two to approve, and sometimes longer depending on the financial complexity and number of borrowers.

    That’s because the underwriting process for an airplane loan is more like that for a house than it is for a car. With both a house and an airplane, lots of documentation needs to be collected and presented.  You need to supply photos, logbook entries, personal financial statements, tax returns, IDs, and more, and that’s in addition to signing a promissory note, security agreement, and other legal documents. However, one of the most time-consuming issues can be verifying a clean title to the airplane. 

    Consider that it would be rare to finance a 30-year-old car, but it’s an everyday occurrence to finance a 30-year-old airplane. Airplanes are designed and built to have a long life, so the average aircraft is far older than the average car. With that age, can come a very colorful history, which needs to be thoroughly examined. To make matters more complicated, it can sometimes take weeks to clear up issues arising from an improperly executed lien release. 

    On a positive note, because the registration process is centralized in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where all U.S. aircraft are registered, there’s only one place to check. Further, now that the FAA is willing to accept electronically executed documents, the process is going to become easier. Many banks and other lending institutions are slower in accepting electronic signatures, but that will change and speed up the process further. There is some hope here!

    Probably the biggest reason the process of obtaining an aircraft loan is slower than that for a car is aircraft lenders are not collateral lenders; they are cash flow and collateral lenders. Most automotive lenders can rely heavily (predominantly) on the collateral of the car because they can have greater confidence in the resale value in the event they must repossess the asset. When comparing to forecasting the resale value of an aircraft, this is much more challenging. Items like the condition or total number of hours on the engine can significantly impact value. If a lender gets back that Cirrus SR22 and the engine is run out, it’s going to easily cost up to $40,000 to overhaul it on a 10-year-old airplane that’s almost 20 percent of the aircraft value. Needless to say, forecasting the resale value of cars is a far easier task than forecasting the resale value of aircraft. 

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on May 3, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Buying a Foreign Aircraft and Importing It see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, shares what you need to know when purchasing and importing a foreign aircraft.

    Buying an aircraft is a complex transaction. Buying one from outside the United States and importing it only adds to the complexity. Paperwork and timing are two major aspects of a domestic deal that can become complicated with foreign transactions and the importation process.

    For instance, in the United States there’s only one place to go to verify aircraft records--the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Assuming an aircraft has spent its entire history in the United States, most reputable title companies should be able to ferret out any claims impacting the title by performing a quick title search.

    By contrast, in Canada, for example, there is no central source for determining an aircraft’s chain of ownership. Aircraft registration in that country is done at the regional level. There are many different provincial and territorial level queries that would need to be done to ascertain whether there are any claims outstanding on Canadian-owned aircraft.

    Every country has its own, distinct registration process. Unfamiliarity with a country's aircraft registration procedures can significantly impede the timing of the transaction and increase the paperwork. It should be mentioned that the International Registry (IR) was originally intended to help address this issue. However, the IR falls significantly short in providing certainty of a clear chain of title, even on those aircraft it covers.

    Aircraft pre-purchase inspection is another potential minefield. AOPA Finance recently stepped in to help somebody who had imported a plane without setting up a thorough Purchase and Sale Agreement (P&S). The two parties agreed the seller would fly the plane to the United States. Both also agreed the buyer could have an annual inspection performed by the buyer’s A&P as part of the pre-purchase inspection. During the annual, the buyer’s mechanic discovered several issues with the aircraft.

    A dispute arose over which country’s definition of airworthiness took precedence. The seller believed the aircraft was airworthy when it departed his country. The buyer’s mechanic begged to differ. So both the plane and the deal were in pieces. To add insult to lack of planning, the lender refused to release funds until somebody signed off that the aircraft was airworthy.

    In the United States, that somebody is the FAA’s designated airworthiness representative (DAR). Not only does the DAR control that aspect of the transaction, this person also oversees the de-registration and registration process. Every country also has their equivalent, which means there are options on how to proceed. Whichever course is chosen, it involves getting on the DAR's calendar, and paperwork.

    Other details to be resolved include: In which country will the plane be de-registered? How will it be flown or ferried into the United States? Where and how will it clear U.S. Customs? And how will the aircraft be re-registered?

    Our advice is to hammer out a rock-solid purchase and sales agreement before embarking on your journey. Clearly spell out all the details to make sure expectations are realistic. Have the P&S elaborate what’s going to happen, when and who is going to take care of which parts of the process. Have it specified when the money will become non-refundable, when the entire amount of the loan is funded into escrow, and when those funds will be released to the seller.

    Disputes happen. Lay out what the dispute resolution process will be. Clarify the logistics of when and where the aircraft will be de-registered and subsequently re-registered. Specify the time period for the designated airworthiness representative to inspect and deem the aircraft airworthy by U.S. standards.

    Our other piece of advice is to get title insurance. It doesn’t cost a lot on the one hand, and on the other hand, having a U.S.-based title insurance company to defend you if something does occur is more than worth the cost. Don’t skimp on this item. Get title insurance.

    AOPA has a plethora of online resources. We also can be helpful through our Legal Services Plan. We’re not the only ones. There is a small industry of other aviation professional service providers out there who are in the business of importing aircraft. Our goal is to provide an understanding of the process and help set expectations. Buying a foreign aircraft and importing it is absolutely a case where hiring professional service providers can only benefit you.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on May 28, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    How Can Borrowing More Cost Less? see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, explains the credit matrix when looking for an aircraft loan.

    An AOPA Finance client recently requested a quote for financing a single-engine aircraft. He was looking to finance $70,000, and was quoted what the interest rate would be based on that figure. However, had the client borrowed $75,000 instead of $70,000, the rate would have been a whole percentage point lower, saving him money. Why is that?

    Many borrowers believe the way to get the best interest rate is through a large down payment and a great credit score. But actually the No. 1 factor in determining the interest rate offered on a loan is the amount of money being lent. Lenders structure each loan around a credit matrix. The matrix is comprised--among other things--of ranges of loan amounts, the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, an individual's total financial picture, and least of all, that person's credit score.

    Lenders group loans into "buckets," or ranges of loan amounts. For example, in the case of our client, one range included loan amounts from $50,000 to $74,999. Additionally, each range of loans has a default initial interest rate associated with it.

    In this case, the lender's next higher range had an interest rate one full percentage point lower associated with it. This client had said a top priority of his was to get the lowest possible interest rate. Therefore, we knew if our client had the flexibility to increase his loan by $5,000, it would put him in the higher range, where the default lending rate was better.

    Initially, he saw increasing the loan by $5,000 as beneficial only for the lender. We pointed out that this lender also had a loan structure that allowed for additional prepayments without penalty. If our client was willing to hold back $5,000 of his down payment and increase the loan to $75,000, he could, on Day 2 of the loan, take that held back $5,000 and apply it immediately to the principal. That would get him back to $70,000 on the loan while maintaining the lower interest rate of the $75,000 loan, thus saving him money. That’s one example of how borrowing more can cost less.

    Loan-to-value (LTV) is the second-most important element in constructing the credit matrix. LTV is a financial term used by lenders to express the ratio of a loan to the value of the asset purchased. Generally, an LTV of 80%-85% is deemed an acceptable risk. LTV requirements are most frequently influenced by the aircraft and how quickly it is likely to depreciate. In other words, LTV requirements may be applied on a sliding scale. Generally, the more quickly a plane is likely to depreciate, the more money down or lower an acceptable LTV and vice versa. Additionally, by putting even more money down and thus lowering the LTV you can frequently gain better interest rates and terms.

    The last, and least important, component of the credit matrix is one's credit score. Despite what retail financial institutions and credit reporting agencies pushing credit protection products advertise in the media, credit scores for aircraft loans have only a small influence on how lenders determine a loan's interest rate. The difference between a good credit score and a great credit score might be a mere quarter of a percent. It’s a lousy credit score that will hurt the most. A poor credit score may cost the borrower a full percentage point, or the loan itself.

    Ultimately, obtaining the best loan for you is about providing you the best perspective on all aspects of it. AOPA Finance brokers stand ready to share the kind of knowledge, nuance and expertise that can navigate you to the best loan for your situation.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on May 28, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    NBT Bank Joins National Aircraft Finance Association see more

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

     

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – November 4, 2019 – National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is pleased to announce that NBT Bank recently joined its professional network of aviation lenders. 

    “NAFA members form a network of aviation finance services who diligently and competently operate with integrity and objectivity throughout the world. We’re excited to welcome NBT Bank to our growing organization as we head to our 50th anniversary,” said Jim Blessing, President of NAFA.

    NBT Bank offers personal and business banking, commercial banking and wealth management services from locations in seven states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Connecticut and through its online and mobile channels. The bank added small aircraft financing to its array of lending options in 2019 and hired Douglas N. Place, Jr. as vice president of Aircraft Financing to lead their efforts. Place has nearly 15 years of experience in the financial services industry, including 10 years in aviation financing. He is also a private pilot and a member of the Board of Directors for the Greater Lawrence, MA Airport Authority.

    “NBT Bank is dedicated to building strong relationships and delivering high-quality service to our customers,” said Place. “I am proud to be a part of the NBT team and to deliver small aircraft financing as an enhancement to the bank’s business options. We’re very excited to join NAFA and foster long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships throughout the aviation finance community.”

    Established in 1856, NBT Bank is headquartered in Norwich, NY with its parent company, NBT Bancorp Inc. NBT Bancorp Inc. had assets of $9.7 billion as of September 30, 2019 and is traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol NBTB.

    NBT Bank appeared on the Forbes 2019 World’s Best Banks list as the top-ranked bank in Maine,  New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. Of the 60 U.S. banks on the list, NBT Bank was ranked #14. Forbes surveyed more than 40,000 customers around the globe and rated banks on overall recommendation and satisfaction as well as five subdimensions (trust, terms and conditions, customer services, digital services and financial advice).

    For more information about NBT Bank, visit nafa.aero/companies/nbt-bank.

    About NAFA:  

    The National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is a non-profit corporation dedicated to promoting the general welfare of individuals and organizations providing aircraft financing and loans secured by aircraft; to improving the industry's service to the public; and to providing our members with a forum for education and the sharing of information and knowledge to encourage the financing, leasing and insuring of general aviation aircraft. For more information about NAFA, visit NAFA.aero.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Will High Time Engines Complicate the Loan Process? see more

    NAFA member Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses finding the "perfect airplane" and the loan process.

    You’ve finally found the perfect airplane. It has no damage history, all of its logs, great avionics, and good interior. The high time engines are the only downside. You’re not worried because the plane is flown often and mechanically is in great shape. When you present it to your lender, though, the lender balks. Why?

    Lenders tend to keep the worst-case scenario in mind. For them, that case is if they might have to repossess the aircraft with it needing an overhaul. To make it marketable again, the lender would have to use their own money for an overhaul. To counter that, most lenders are going to specify you have enough liquidity to cover an overhaul from Day 1.

    Some lenders may require an overhaul as part of the purchase. Others may require a "hold back" amount of money as a precursor to financing. That "hold back" amount must be sufficient to cover overhaul costs upon taking delivery. Because lenders recognize that the likelihood of other expenses popping up at any time with an airplane is high, they may also require an additional cushion of liquidity as a condition of completing the deal. Some lenders will simply bow out of the transaction entirely.

    For many pilots, having to fold an overhaul into the purchase price looks like a pricing discount opportunity. The reality is aviation market appraisers have already figured that into the equation. For example, if two identical aircraft are for sale and one has a fresh overhaul while the other is at TBO, the airplane with the fresh engines will have a market value of at least $30,000 more per engine over the TBO plane. 

    We've had clients who felt their ability to potentially liquidate an asset to cover an overhaul should have had that counted in their favor. Lenders tend to disagree with that assessment for two reasons. First, offering to liquidate an asset against an overhaul changes the global financial picture of the borrower. Keeping in mind that every aspect of one's financial picture is interconnected; it becomes easy to see why changing one part may have a negative domino effect overall.

    Second, where borrowers tend to feel eternally confident about their ability to quickly liquidate any asset they own, lenders are more sanguine about the reality of asset disposal. Financers can draw from plenty of historical precedent where circumstances changed for the worse, and the asset a borrower thought would be easy to sell to cover the unforeseen event fetched far less than expected or didn't sell at all. 

    The flip side of that coin are two specific instances where an airplane owner whose engines are at TBO might easily obtain an overhaul loan. In the case of an aircraft that is free and clear, it’s generally possible to get virtually 100% financing. The second situation is when a loan is still outstanding. If the amount requested--plus the remaining principal--adds up to less than 80% loan-to-value (LTV), a lender will typically refinance. In that case, the owner may not have to go more than 20% out of pocket to pay for the overhaul. 

    Lenders who provide this type of refinancing find it attractive for another reason. Often a pilot will include an avionics or interior upgrade, thus turning a simple engine overhaul into a whole aircraft refurbishment. The one caveat is, at least on the piston side, the relatively small dollar amount of a refinance loan for an overhaul is low, so it's not necessarily attractive to a lot of lenders.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on July 10, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Lending Associates joins National Aircraft Finance Association see more

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    EDGEWATER, Md. – September 1, 2018 - National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is pleased to announce that Lending Associates has recently joined its professional network of aviation lenders. “NAFA members proudly finance - support or enable the financing of - general and business aviation aircraft throughout the world, and we’re happy to add Lending Associates to our association,” said Ford von Weise, President of NAFA.

    Lending Associates is a provider of financing solutions for recreational and commercial aircraft acquisitions, working with a large network of quality lenders to ensure the most competitive loan rates. With years of experience, their team of experts are available to answer client questions throughout the process, helping consumers and industry professionals alike navigate today’s complex financing process. 

    Lending Associates matches the best lender to their clients’ specific financing needs, maintaining the utmost privacy and confidentiality. Their loan specialists work to design a financing program to best meet each unique situation. From the initial consultation to loan closing and ongoing servicing of the loan, the company is committed to the needs and goals of the client.

    "Lending Associates is proud to join NAFA in its efforts to support private aviation. From what I have seen, the members of this association have a passion for aviation and a history of moving the industry forward from all aspects, not just finance," stated Grant Smalling, President of Lending Associates. 

    Much like NAFA, Lending Associates is dedicated to fostering quality, professional service throughout the aviation finance industry. Lending Associates and NAFA promote excellence in aircraft finance through their commitment to the consumer’s goals. 

    For more information about Lending Associates, visit https://www.lending-associates.com/.

    About NAFA:  

    The National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is a non-profit corporation dedicated to promoting the general welfare of individuals and organizations providing aircraft financing and loans secured by aircraft; to improving the industry's service to the public; and to providing our members with a forum for education and the sharing of information and knowledge to encourage the financing, leasing and insuring of general aviation aircraft. For more information about NAFA, visit www.NAFA.aero.

     

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Chemical Bank Commercial Finance joins National Aircraft Finance Association see more

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    EDGEWATER, Md. - October 23, 2018National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is pleased to announce that Chemical Bank Commercial Finance has recently joined its professional network of aviation lenders. “NAFA members proudly finance - support or enable the financing of - general and business aviation aircraft throughout the world, and we’re happy to add Chemical Bank to our association,” said Ford von Weise, President of NAFA.

    Chemical Financial Corporation offers a full range of traditional banking and fiduciary products and services, and is the largest banking company headquartered and operating branch offices in Michigan. The corporation operates through its subsidiary bank, Chemical Bank, with 212 banking offices located primarily in Michigan, northeast Ohio and northern Indiana. At June 30, 2018, the corporation had total assets of $20.28 billion. Chemical Financial Corporation’s common stock trades on the NASDAQ Stock Market under the symbol CHFC and is one of the issuers comprising the NASDAQ Global Select Market and the S&P MidCap 400 Index. They are also an FDIC member and equal housing lender.

    Since 1917, Chemical’s approach to banking has been focused on community banking, highlighted by local leadership and decision making, a devotion to community and personalized service.The company offers flexible equipment loans designed to meet the various needs in financing equipment purchases, helping to put their clients’ cash to work in other ways. Whether financing the purchase of a new vehicle for a business, the cost of new equipment for a plant, or large asset acquisitions such as aircraft for corporate travel, Chemical Bank designs personalized programs specifically customized to their clients. Their team of loan professionals is known for their detailed attention throughout the loan process.                                                                                                                                      

    Much like NAFA, Chemical Bank Commercial Finance is dedicated to helping their clients develop, finance and accomplish their dreams. Chemical Bank and NAFA promote excellence in leadership, offering expert advice in the aviation finance industry and sharing in the satisfaction of their clients’ successes. 

    For more information about Chemical Bank Commercial Finance, visit www.chemicalbank.com

    About NAFA:  

    The National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA) is a non-profit corporation dedicated to promoting the general welfare of individuals and organizations providing aircraft financing and loans secured by aircraft; to improving the industry's service to the public; and to providing our members with a forum for education and the sharing of information and knowledge to encourage the financing, leasing and insuring of general aviation aircraft. For more information about NAFA, visit www.NAFA.aero.