AOPA

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Co., shares helpful steps when financing aircraft. see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, shares helpful steps when financing your aircraft.

    AOPA Aviation Finance and our experienced and trusted specialists can assist you in making your purchase by offering a wide array of financing options that are tailored to your specific needs. 

    Here are eight steps to help you start flying: 

    Gather Supporting Documents

    Gather your tax returns, financial statements, and personal net worth information for submission with your application to speed up the process. The fastest approvals are applications where W-2's are submitted with no business ownership, usually within 1-2 days. Additional approval time may be required for applicants with business entities.

    Complete an Application

    Fill out the application as completely as possible to avoid a delay in processing and remember to provide an original signature on the application before submitting it through the online portal. 

    Get Approved or Pre-Approved Quickly

    Once your application package is complete, your account executive and analyst will identify and select the best lender based on your aircraft selection, usage, loan structure, and financial history. 

    Still Shopping?

    A pre-approval ensures that:
    - You don’t lose the aircraft of your dreams due to lack of financing.
    - Your loan closes quickly. 
    - You have 90 days to decide on your aircraft with the rate locked for 30 days.

    Negotiate a Balanced Purchase and Sales Agreement

    Don’t just sign anything given to you by the seller, have someone familiar with the process review to ensure it’s balanced. The purchase and sales agreement is a binding legal document that sets the sales price and all conditions to close, including time to complete pre-buy, time to complete transaction, how and where escrow and deposit are held, and who pays to move the aircraft, etc.

    Schedule a Pre-Purchase Inspection

    We highly recommend a pre-buy inspection by an independent 3rd party to avoid any surprises and conflict of interest once you take ownership of the aircraft.

    Typically, the prospective buyer pays to re-position the aircraft for the pre-buy, and the seller pays for correcting any maintenance issues relating to airworthiness. 

    Set Up Escrow and Review Fees

    AOPA members pay no broker fees!  Members will, however, need to open escrow with a lender approved title and escrow company to ensure proper closing and will include a title search. Normally, fees are based on the aircraft’s sales price and are split by the buyer and seller.

    Lender closing costs are based on the aircraft and purchase price and are used to cover hard costs such as background checks, credit bureaus, overnight fees, loan documentation, and legal review.

    Obtain Insurance

    Hull and liability insurance coverage is required by lenders, AOPA members can get discounted rates through AOPA Insurance. Your account executive will gladly refer you to an agent for a quote.

    Prepare for Closing

    Once you have selected a closing date, be prepared to find a notary to notarize documents and leave time for overnight packages to be sent back and forth as some documents require a “wet signature”.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on August 5, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Positioning Oneself in a Seller's Market see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, shares his strategy for positioning yourself in a buyer's market.

    In a seller’s market, the best way for a buyer to position themselves is through a three-pronged strategy of pre-approval, extra liquidity and nimbleness. Buyers who finance may find themselves up against cash buyers. That’s why being nimble is so important. The buyer may have to make an offer on multiple planes before they finally get into first position on a transaction.

    If you think you’re able to pay cash for a plane with the intention of getting it financed after the fact, make sure the transaction goes through proper escrow channels all the way to closing. AOPA Aviation Finance knows from experience that being pressured by a seller into purchasing a plane quickly without all the proper due diligence leads to bad outcomes more often than not.

    Many buyers are aware that incomplete logs, damage history, or a title with a cloud over it are reasons for a finance company to nix the deal. However, in this era of heightened security measures, uncertainty where (and to whom) the money from an aircraft sale went might also prevent the ability to obtain financing. Not to mention, subject a buyer to unwanted scrutiny from one or more three-letter government agencies post-closing.

    Finance companies have a regulatory obligation to follow the money. They must vet not only the buyer, but also the seller as well. This is done in order to ascertain whether money from a cash deal is destined for a bad actor on a list of prohibited persons who might possibly funnel the money to an organization on one of a number of “bad guy” lists. The simplest way to protect yourself from such close scrutiny while still preserving your potential for financing is to have the transaction go through escrow.

    Buying a high-quality airplane in a seller's market has a lot to do with timing. In past seller's markets like this one, AOPA Aviation Finance has seen frustrated clients try two distinct tactics to improve their chances when their timing was off: offer a buyer well above asking price; and/or settle for a lower quality airplane.

    We like to advise our clients that a tight market is a particularly important time to maintain objectivity, despite understandable temptations to the contrary. AOPA Aviation Finance helps a buyer by keeping a dispassionate perspective. However, in those instances when a buyer simply cannot remain objective, we counsel them to be prepared for one of three scenarios: 

    1. A person dead set on paying more than where a plane ”book’s out” with the pricing digest guides needs to be prepared to pay for a valuation to justify why the plane is worth more, or
    2. They need to be able to shell out the difference between where it books and the asking price--in addition to the regular down payment, or
    3. A combination of the two

    Lenders will finance an aircraft only on value as determined by an independent third party so the difference between that value and the buyer's asking price will have to be made up by the borrower. If a buyer can't afford to make up that difference without changing their global financial picture, AOPA tends to advise against the deal.

    Some clients feel that settling for a lesser value aircraft at least gets them a plane. For instance, pursuing a well-appointed TBM 700 because they lost out on one too many highly sought-after TBM 850s. The thing is, it's very likely other frustrated buyers have drawn the same conclusion. They too flood the market, which boosts the popularity of TBM 700s, which artificially boosts their prices. Short term win, but long-term loss. That's because the market will inevitably reverse. When it does, the 700 will likely depreciate faster and farther, thus commanding less in resale as a result. 

    Is it worth it to bet that you'll use and sell that lesser plane before the market turns? Is it worth it to take that risk in a market whose output is only a few thousand aircraft annually, and whose market is heavily dependent on a robust economy? A conversation with an AOPA Aviation Finance expert can help guide your decision-making and help hone your acquisition strategy.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on July 8, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    What Are The Benefits Of Title Insurance For An Airplane Purchase? see more

    NAFA member Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, answers your questions about title insurance when purchasing an airplane.

    Question: I’m planning to purchase a used airplane in the next 6-months. I’ve heard some owners talk about not needing title insurance? Wouldn’t this be required by a lender? I’m familiar with title insurance for a home purchase, but what exactly are the benefits of title insurance for an airplane purchase?

    Answer: Surprisingly, no, many lenders do not currently require title insurance on every transaction. 

    Similar to a home, your aircraft also has a title history which should be reviewed before buying. While most AOPA members know the importance of this and perform a title search prior to buying an aircraft, many may not know there are numerous scenarios where a lien or claim can end up in the FAA registry and/or otherwise “clouding” your ownership interest. By obtaining title insurance, the title insurance company will defend you legally against any bogus claims.  

    Question: I would like to purchase my first airplane this year. My price range is about $50k.  I’ve been looking at your website and the list of financial documents you will require, especially for a business owner like myself, seems daunting. Are there any other options for someone like me? I have good credit and good cash flow.

    Answer: While providing the full list of financial documents gives you the most lending options, some of our lenders do offer low doc products. The underwriting guidelines tend to be more constrained, however, for well-qualified borrowers all that is needed is an application. Because this product does not require supporting financials rates will average .25-.75% higher than our most competitive options. If you are interested in more details about this low doc option, please give us a call and we can give you a more specific rate quote.

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

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    An Overview of Aircraft Loan Structures see more

    NAFA member Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses how to determine which aircraft loan package is right for you.

    The best way for an AOPA Finance expert to determine the right loan package for its members is to ask them the right questions, starting with, “What’s important to you?”

    Most have the same answer: “The lowest interest rate possible.” From experience, we know they really mean “lowest rate possible for their specific situation”. Three questions help us frame their specific situation:

    1. What have you budgeted for a monthly payment?
    2. How long do you want to own this plane (and keep financing in place)?
    3. How much are you looking to put down?

    How the member answers determines whether a fixed, floating or a hybrid financing structure fits best. Their financial complexity might require us to recommend an asset-based approach.

    A fully amortized, fixed rate loan with the longest possible term might be ideal for somebody intending to own the plane for a decade or more. The risk is the interest rate locked in at the beginning of the term might be higher than the going interest rate at the end. But the trade-off in peace of mind knowing the guaranteed monthly note is compatible with one’s long-term spending plan makes the extra cost worthwhile. For example, for non-commercial use, there are lenders who will execute fully amortizing, fixed-rate loans with 15 or 20-year terms for turboprops still in production.

    When it comes to length of ownership, many of our clients answer, "about ten years.” Data AOPA Finance has collected shows the typical length of ownership is actually no more than five. That's why floating, balloon or adjustable rate (ARM) loan structuring might make more sense.

    A floating rate loan has no fixed interest rate, while an adjustable rate (ARM) loan starts out fixed but then changes (to either a new fixed rate or a floating rate). Following the initial period, an ARM floats, based on a benchmark reference rate like the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB). The initial period is typically three to five years. Another term for an ARM is hybrid. In the current interest rate environment and forecasting into the foreseeable future, these financing packages can offer better savings compared to fixed rates with similar amortizations.

    Balloons are another option; however, the amortization period is longer than the actual loan term. An example might be financing a turboprop on a five-year term with a "balloon" and a 15 to 20-year amortization. That package might work best for members who a.) are looking purely for the lowest rate possible, and b.) know they’re going to own the aircraft (and/or keep the loan) less time than the normal average.

    Balloons allow the borrower to delay paying the principal until the very end, thus keeping the monthly outlay low. At the end of the term, the entire unpaid balance comes due. That small monthly note balloons into one large final payment.

    Sometimes members come to us comfortable with the complex structures of floating or ARM financing, but the complexity of their own finances prohibits them from using those options. Take for example, a real estate entrepreneur who owns 30 different properties. Each property is a separate ownership entity. They have partners on some of these properties and are a majority owner, or half owner or some variation of percentage, across the entire real estate portfolio. Despite the positive cash flow, there are lenders who will not do a deal without them putting a guarantee on all the entities they have equity in, as well as a personal guarantee from themselves. Even if they aren’t restricted by covenants from doing so, the cost in money and time is frequently not worth it. The financial complexity surrounding their business might mandate a simpler, asset-based loan configuration.

    In fact, asset-based deals can be further simplified if the client can increase their down payment. The more you put down up front, the more options lenders have available. A loan on an older airplane or one with higher-time engines becomes doable if the borrower can afford a higher down payment. Whereas a newer plane might be approved with a 15% down, 20-year amortization, the same situation for an older turboprop might go from “no deal” to “deal” with 30% or 40% down. Likewise, a relatively mainstream turboprop that has been produced in significant numbers might normally see a 15-year amortization. Without a larger down payment, older or rarer turboprops might cause lenders to shorten the amortization period, or even refuse to make the loan.

    Jet financing has its own unique requirements which might also necessitate a higher down payment. That’s because the frequency of engine advancements and avionics upgrades as well as new products tend to render those aircraft obsolete faster than others. That’s why asking the right questions of our members allows AOPA Finance to give them the best picture when it comes to securing the best financing package for their unique situation.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on April 12, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    What's Included in Closing Costs? see more

    NAFA member Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, answers some of your aircraft closing cost questions.

    Question: What is typically included in closing costs and how much should I expect them to be? Currently I’m looking to finance a Cessna 182 and want to determine the total costs of financing.

    Answer: Closing costs are the real costs incurred by the lender to document the loan. These typically include fees associated with preparing and mailing the loan documents, credit/background checks, and, in some cases, title and escrow. Most of our lenders’ closing costs run between $500-$800 for a C182. If the lender does not offer in house title and escrow, this would be additional fees. Title and escrow generally costs $600-$700 and is often split between the buyer and seller. 

    Closing can become complicated if you don’t know what to expect. Let AOPA Finance help you through the process. Give us a call at 800.627.5263.

    Question: I have been looking at several Bonanzas, but every time I start negotiations with the seller, they opt for cash buyers. Is there something I can do to get the financing in place before I negotiate the sale?

    Answer: If you have an age range and purchase price in mind, it would be recommended to get pre-approved. The pre-approval will take care of the credit underwriting so that when you find an aircraft you can confidently make an offer. Closing can be completed within a few days upon signing a purchase agreement if a pre-approval is already in place. Approvals are typically valid for 90 days with the rates locked for the first 30 days.

    If you are ready to get pre-approved, please call us at 800.627.5263 and we can send you an online application to get started.

    Have questions for Adam? He is happy to answer them. Submit your questions here. Great rates. Great terms. Helpful and responsive reps. Three good reasons to turn to AOPA Aviation Finance when you are buying an airplane. If you need a dependable source of financing with people who are on your side, just call 800.62.PLANE (75263) or click here to request a quote.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on March 29, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Why Does Usage Matter? see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses how the use of your airplane affects your financing.

    How are you going to use your airplane? It's a question AOPA Finance asks its clients early and often. The airplane’s intended mission determines which finance companies will lend to you and the terms of the deal.

    It could be said that there are only two types of airplanes to a lender—a “nice-to-have asset” or a “working asset.” Personal use planes—shuttling company employees or the family for travel—are examples of “nice-to-have assets.” The expectation of the lender is the aircraft will fly a normal number of hours per year. An aircraft put on a Part 135 charter certificate or on leaseback with an FBO, however, will fly significantly more hours per year. They are considered “working assets” because of their high usage. The risk profiles of the two are very different.

    From the lender’s perspective, should the borrower go into default or the business into bankruptcy on the former, the airplane can be parked, turned over and sold without adversely impacting any creditors. The employees and the boss can return to flying commercial airlines. That’s why it’s called a “nice-to-have asset.” It’s not essential to the function of the business.

    The depreciation trajectory for these planes is less steep and more predictable. No lender can predict the absolute future value of an aircraft. But for this type of financing, lenders can predict a worst-case scenario of a reasonable return on the asset should they need to turn the airplane over. That’s an acceptable loan risk for many aircraft financers. An example of that acceptable risk is a 20-year amortization with 15% down on a relatively new plane. This is typical of what AOPA Finance helps its clients get.

    Unfortunately, AOPA Finance has worked with a number of clients who allowed a well-meaning accountant or friend suggest that additional use of the asset might have tax benefits and midway through the deal, they informed us that they’d changed their mind. We recently had a client who did just that.

    Well into the financing process, he decided he wanted to now leaseback the aircraft for rental. The financing had been structured around normal usage. Once the client decided on a high usage scenario, AOPA Finance was left presenting him with a worse loan package for the altered scenario than originally submitted. Had AOPA Finance known sooner about his leaseback intentions, a better option from a different lender could have been negotiated.

    The higher number of hours flown per year increases operational wear, which speeds up diminution of the airplane’s value, which accelerates the loss in equity. If the buyer gets a loan like the one above based on personal/business use but then puts the plane on a charter certificate, the likelihood of them being upside down on the equity of that plane within four years could be significant. When the time comes for them to sell and upgrade they can’t without bringing money to the table. Alternatively, should they go into default, the lender would be stuck, unable to recoup the loan amount.

    It's also harder for a lender to step in and turn over a high usage aircraft put on a charter certificate. That business exists to fly planes. In the case of a bankruptcy, a bankruptcy judge may acknowledge the revenue-generating potential of the airplane as a working asset. The judge could then rule that the airplane must remain in service. The plane would continue to fly, its value would continue to decline, and the lender would be forced to stand by while its asset continues to lose money from the additional use. That’s an unacceptable risk profile for many.

    Knowing which lenders will finance working asset aircraft is part of AOPA Finance’s expertise. Lenders that do these particular deals do so because they have an intimate knowledge of the makes and models of aircraft used for such operations. They know financing high usage aircraft is more akin to financing a business loan for a business. That’s an acceptable risk to them.

    That’s why it’s important to know early in the process how you intend to use your airplane and to stick with that decision. It's far better to know up front if the plane is a nice-to-have or a working asset rather than being inadvertently misled into thinking you can do something which will end up costing you dearly.

    Great rates. Great terms. Helpful and responsive reps. Three good reasons to turn to AOPA Aviation Finance when you are buying an airplane. If you need a dependable source of financing with people who are on your side, just call 800.62.PLANE (75263) or click here to request a quote.

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

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Tax Requirements on an Aircraft Purchase see more

    NAFA member Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, answers your questions about tax requirements when purchasing an aircraft.

    Question: I purchased a plane last year utilizing AOPA.  One thing I was not made aware of until later in the process is that required sales tax (I live in TX) could not be included in the loan so I had to give up almost $7k which I was going to use ADS-B compliance.  No one seems to talk about that. Is that normal?

    Answer: The tax requirements on an aircraft purchase can vary drastically from state to state. Since lenders do not roll taxes into the financing, AOPA Aviation Finance does not typically get involved with tax questions. Often times the selling broker will account for sales tax but we always recommend consulting your CPA or a tax attorney. AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services has attorneys on staff and panel attorneys throughout the country that can assist members with such questions. Members of the PPS plan receive a free 30-minute consultation annually along with a number of other benefits.

    Have questions for Adam? He is happy to answer them. Submit your questions here. Great rates. Great terms. Helpful and responsive reps. Three good reasons to turn to AOPA Aviation Finance when you are buying an airplane. If you need a dependable source of financing with people who are on your side, just call 800.62.PLANE (75263) or click here to request a quote.

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

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Airplane Acquisition Checklist Series: Part Two: Purchase and Delivery see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, follows up with part two of the Airplane Acquisition Checklist covering Purchase and Delivery.

    In Part 1 of this series on airplane acquisition, we discussed the most efficient way to approach buying an aircraft by using three checklists—Pre-purchase, Purchase and Aircraft Delivery. We also detailed the Pre-purchase Checklist.

    You're now staring at your ideal airplane on your screen. Time to run the Purchase Checklist:

    • Escrow, Letter of Intent and Purchase Agreement
    • Notify Lender
    • Pre-purchase Inspection
    • International Registry (if applicable)
    • Insurance
    • Title Search and Background Checks

    Escrow, Letter of Intent and Purchase Agreement. Escrow appears in all three checklists. Before it was a reminder to get your down payment together. Now it triggers you to move money into an escrow account that you set up through your escrow agent. If you're unfamiliar, AOPA has a strategic partnership with Aerospace Reports and as a member you’ll get discounted pricing and we can help get things set up. Likewise, if you’re working with another escrow company AOPA Finance can help coordinate that too. Plan on a deposit of 5%-10% of the aircraft's asking price.

    The letter of intent puts a clock on the deal, enables you to withdraw from it without penalty under certain conditions you and the seller negotiate, and establishes the parameters for the final price.

    This is also time to have your aviation attorney to draw up a detailed purchase agreement. If you don't have one, AOPA has a sample purchase agreement you can view here. You may want to consider signing up for Pilot Protection Services which includes consultation with an attorney regarding your purchase of an aircraft specific to your state and the legal requirements there. What it covers includes, but is not limited to, purchase amount, refund terms, deadlines for the process, representations and warranties, even the location of aircraft delivery.

    Notify Lender. The sooner you notify the lender, the sooner the lender can convert the pre-approval into an approval. Your lender will conduct background checks, damage history queries, etc. If the aircraft is missing logbooks, that may affect the stipulations of the pre-approval with the lender. Each has a set of tolerances for missing logbooks. Ask before you commit to a particular lender. AOPA Finance may be able to help.

    Pre-purchase Inspection. Even before you go to the airplane, have the logbooks sent to you. Nowadays, most sellers have their airframe and engine logbooks scanned into PDF format for ease of emailing. Get your mechanic started perusing those logs. You and your lender will want to know whether the logbooks are complete as soon as possible. An incomplete set can frequently impact the final price, and it may also affect the plane's insurability.

    In most instances, it's best that a mechanic other than the regular mechanic for that airplane perform the pre-purchase inspection. That may mean flying your assigned A&P to the airplane's location, with a hotel stay.

    International Registry. If your plane is subject to the Cape Town Treaty (see here for more info), you should begin the International Registry process simultaneously with contacting your escrow agent. It's complex and time-consuming and may affect the timing of your closing date. Subject to some exceptions, an aircraft must be registered with an appropriate aviation authority before it can be legally operated in any country. Suffice it to say, better to have your team of experts handle this checklist item.

    Insurance. As far as your lender is concerned, typically, they’ll require you to maintain full ground and flight insurance, as well as "Breach of Warranty Coverage" for the amount of the loan with a carrier acceptable to the lender.

    The lender must be named as "loss payee" and be protected by a "lien holder's endorsement." Once you have been placed with the appropriate lender, we will send you the specific insurance requirements for that lender.

    Title Search and Background Checks. Usually, this will be a straightforward process. If a plane has been in an incident, involved in an estate dispute or part of a bankruptcy, though, then things could get complicated. Your prospective insurer, your lender and your escrow agent may all play a part in these searches and checks. We've heard too many stories of airplane deals falling through at the last minute because of lack of due diligence by the buyer, so be thorough.

    All that complete, what's left is to take delivery. There's one last checklist to run—the Aircraft Delivery Checklist:

    • Punch List
    • Technical Acceptance
    • Escrow
    • Closing and Delivery

    Punch List. Here's where the due diligence of your title, escrow or insurance representatives pays off. They'll work with you to clear up any liens or estate claims. Similarly, the list of deficiencies and discrepancies your mechanic delivered will have been either rectified or negotiated into a lower price.

    Technical Acceptance. Once the Punch List is complete, the buyer then executes and delivers a Technical Acceptance Certificate to the seller. This says the buyer accepts the condition of the aircraft, subject to "no material damage and/or total loss affecting the aircraft upon or prior to arrival of the aircraft at the delivery location." The deposit usually becomes non-refundable at this stage.

    Escrow. The remaining purchase price is deposited into the escrow account, and the seller is paid.

    Closing and Delivery. The title is transferred and the aircraft is registered to the new owner, once the new owner insures it. Finally, the aircraft is turned over or delivered to you. Congratulations.

    Considering aircraft ownership? AOPA Aviation Finance will make your purchase experience as smooth as possible. For information about aircraft financing, please visit the website (www.aopafinance.com) or call 1-800-62-PLANE (75263).

    Click here for The Acquisition Checklist: Part One

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on March 5, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Aircraft Age Restrictions for Financing see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, answers the aircraft financing question regarding aircraft age restrictions.  

    Question: Is there an age of airplane or number of airframe engine hours that is off-limits for financing?

    Answer: For piston aircraft, our lenders do not have any age restrictions. Aircraft manufactured prior to 1960 may require a larger down payment and/or shorter term. Airframe time is restricted to less than 10,000 hours. Lenders prefer mid-time engines or less, however, financing an overhaul into the purchase is always an option for those with higher times. If you are looking at a few different airplanes and would like help, our Account Executives are available to help with valuations and can provide rate and term quotes for each airplane. Please give us a call at 800.627.5263 or contact us through our website at aopafinance.com

    Have questions for Adam? He is happy to answer them. Submit your questions here. Great rates. Great terms. Helpful and responsive reps. Three good reasons to turn to AOPA Aviation Finance when you are buying an airplane. If you need a dependable source of financing with people who are on your side, just call 800.62.PLANE (75263) or click here to request a quote.

    This article was originally published on AOPA Aviation Finance Company on February 21, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    The Airplane Acquisition Checklist Series: Part One: The Pre-Purchase see more

    NAFA member Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, shares his pre-purchase airplane acquisition checklist.

    Did you resolve to upgrade your current aircraft or to buy your first airplane in 2019? Congratulations!. With low inventory and high demand, how you approach the buying process may be the difference between getting your first-choice or settling for an also-ran.

    Buying an airplane is like flying an airplane. It’s all about planning, crew resource management and checklists. Your “crew” includes your lender, your insurer, your maintenance contractor and AOPA’s Aviation Finance Group. AOPA Finance can match you with the right lender, and our extensive experience can also provide you the additional leverage you may need in a tight market, at no cost to you.

    Like flying, how well you plan, manage your crew and follow your checklists help determine how well the purchase process goes. We’re not talking about pre-flight, flight and post-flight checklists, though. We mean these checklists:

    1. Pre-Purchase
    2. Purchase
    3. Aircraft Delivery

    Let’s start with the Pre-purchase Checklist:

    • Ownership—personally or through a company or LLC?
    • Use—personal or commercial?
    • Loan Pre-approval
    • Escrow
    • Private hangar or shared?
    • Aircraft maintenance contractor

    Ownership. Are you going to own the airplane yourself or through your company? Will you create an LLC, a partnership or some other type of corporate body? Iron out those details first. They guide which lender can pre-approve you and may also influence the length of the pre-approval process. There are advantages and disadvantages to all ownership scenarios.  What’s important to know is that if you decide to change structure at the last minute, it’s a bit like telling your building contractor you want to move a door. At a minimum you know there’s going to be delays in the process and it may completely change the structure.

    We’ve seen too many situations where potential buyers got a loan pre-approval based on one ownership scenario (like a partnership), only for them to change the scenario (like dissolving the partnership). That kind of change will negate the pre-approval process and will force the buyer to start over. It may also necessitate finding a different lender.

    Use—Personal or Commercial? Part 91 transport for you alone, for your company’s employees or leaseback to the local flight school? Decide how you intend to fly your aircraft and commit to it. There is no advantage in telling your prospective lender and insurer it’s for personal use, only to conduct commercial operations once purchased. Should the discrepancy come to light because of an accident, incident or investigation, it could trigger a steep default interest rate, or worse. Transparent communication is the best way to keep this complex transaction simple.

    Now it’s time for:

    Loan Pre-Approval. Getting pre-approved confirms what you can afford and enables you to move quickly on an aircraft, both essential in this seller’s market.

    Some think it’s a waste of time to get pre-approved because the pre-approval is time-limited. True, pre-approval is good for anywhere from 60 to 90 days, depending on the lender. That’s generally enough time to find the right aircraft. But, if the search period does exceed the pre-approval timeframe, it may be possible to extend the pre-approval period.

    Even if the lender won’t extend, re-approval is quicker than an initial pre-approval. So you’re still ahead of the competition.

    While waiting on pre-approval, finish the rest of the checklist:

    Escrow. Have cash ready to put in an escrow account. Escrow gives you an exclusive option on an aircraft within a specific timeframe. When entering escrow, ask for generous restrictions. The more time you can negotiate, the better. It gives your lender, insurer or AOPA Finance space to conduct background checks, damage history and title searches. Also consider keeping extra money in reserve to add to escrow should the seller require an additional incentive.

    Next time: The Purchase and Aircraft Delivery checklist.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on February 21, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    5 Tips to a Speedy Aircraft Approval see more

    NAFA member Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, shares five tips when financing your aircraft.

    1. Be Organized

    Aircraft financing requires documentation similar to mortgage financing. Having easy access to W2’s, tax returns, paystubs, business tax returns and K1’s will help move the process along quickly. The number one reason for delay in approval is missing documents. 

    2. Full disclosure

    Fill out the application with as much detail as possible. You will need to provide documentation in the form of tax returns, bank statements, etc to verify income and down payment.

    3. Understand your credit and financial picture

    Being aware and able to explain any past issues on your credit report will help limit additional underwriting questions. Using free credit tracking services is a good way to understand what might show up on your credit report.

    4. Calculate your ability to afford the loan 

    Make sure you have added the expected monthly payment to your current debt payments. Most lenders are not only going to want to see that you can handle the monthly payment but can also afford the operational and insurance costs on top of your current obligations.

    5. Determine Ownership Structure

    Having an understanding of how you want the aircraft to be registered will help the approval and closing process go smoothly. LLC or corporate ownership adds additional complexities to the closing. Establishing these entities early on in the process helps keep things moving during the final stages.

    Competitive rates and terms. Custom financing options. Helpful and responsive reps. Three good reasons to turn to AOPA Finance when you are buying a turboprop or turbine airplane. If you need a dependable source of financing with people who are on your side, just call 800.62.PLANE (75263) or click here to request a quote.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on February 5, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Finance, shares prebuy tips when financing a turboprop. see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, shares prebuy tips when financing a turboprop.

    We highly recommend getting a pre-buy inspection. It could save you thousands of dollars over time. Here we’ve summarized some important points to consider as you move through the purchasing process.

    1. ALWAYS have a prebuy done. No bank should let you finance a plane without it.
    2. The shop doing the prebuy should specialize in the type of airplane you are buying. We also recommend selecting a shop that has no ties to the airplane.
    3. Give yourself plenty of time to get the prebuy done. Typically, they take 1-2 days, however you might want to add a buffer so you don’t end up getting rushed as a closing date approaches.
    4. Typically, the buyer pays to reposition the airplane and the seller will pay for correcting any maintenance issues relating to airworthiness.
    5. Use the Purchase & Sales agreement to define the sales price plus conditions such as the amount of time to complete the prebuy, who pays for what, and who pays to move the airplane.
    6. Don’t forget to ask for a fresh annual during the prebuy. This is oftentimes required by banks unless one has been completed recently.
    7. If you end up with a reduced purchase amount after the prebuy, that doesn’t mean you can reduce your down payment by that amount. Most lenders require the lesser of loan to value OR loan to purchase amount.

    Competitive rates and terms. Custom financing options. Helpful and responsive reps. Three good reasons to turn to AOPA Finance when you are buying a turboprop or turbine airplane. If you need a dependable source of financing with people who are on your side, just call 800.62.PLANE (75263) or click here to request a quote.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on February 4, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Podcast: AOPA's Mark Baker Talks Certification Trends see more

    NAFA member, Mark Baker, President of AOPA, gave a presentation about some surprising growth trends in pilot certification at Aero 2019 in Friedrichshafen, Germany.  In this podcast, he discusses the relationship between the number of active pilots, pilot salaries, and flight training in the U.S. and Europe.

    This podcast was originally published by Paul Bertorelli on AvWeb on April 11, 2019. 

     

     

     

     

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    The Realities of the Pilot Shortage see more

    NAFA member, Rene Banglesdorf, CEO of Charlie Bravo Aviation, discusses how good pilots are hard to find and how the realities of the pilot shortage are starting to affect the aviation industry.

    Gone are the days when aviation departments sort through a huge stack of resumes for pilots – though a few still do. Nowadays, good pilots seem to be hard to find. And the realities of a pilot shortage are finally starting to affect the aviation industry.

    High pilot training costs, several years of earlier hiring freezes in top markets, and the threat of technology replacing pilots in the not-too-distant future has deterred the next generation of talent.

    By my math, the number of pilots retiring exceeds the number of new entrants by more than 100-percent – with an increasing demand from commercial, cargo and private operators. To us that signals a critical shortage – and if the airlines are feeling it sharply, general aviation will be too.

    Already we hear about American or Canadian pilots being recruited to the Middle East and Asia at salaries double or greater the averages in North America. Larger carriers are offering signing bonuses, 20-percent-plus pay increases and better benefits to attract and retain experienced pilots.

    Boeing’s job forecast

    In its most recent jobs forecast, Boeing indicated an unprecedented 20-year demand for pilots at 790,000 – double the current workforce. And according to their report, 80,000 pilots in the US alone will age out in that same timeframe.

    “Despite strong global air traffic growth, the aviation industry continues to face a pilot labour supply challenge, raising concern about the existence of a global pilot shortage in the near-term,” said Keith Cooper, Vice President of Training & Professional Services, Boeing Global Services. “An emphasis on developing the next generation of pilots is key to help mitigate this. With a network of training campuses and relationships with flight schools around the globe, Boeing partners with customers, governments and educational institutions to help ensure the market is ready to meet this significant pilot demand.”

    To this end, Boeing touts its Pilot Development Program – an accelerated training program that guides future pilots from early stage ab-initio training through type rating as a first officer – to help operators meet their growing pilot needs.

    That’s great for companies or people operating Boeing’s aircraft, but it may not factor down into providing a pipeline of pilots for general aviation, especially piston or turboprop operators.

    The competition is on

    Regional airlines have doubled starting salaries and bonuses in recent years, which heralds stiff competition for lower-time pilots, as regional airlines typically serve as time and tenure builders for younger pilots.

    Private aviation flight departments are getting more competitive as well. Recent news of airline compensation increases has encouraged some firms to bump salaries by 30 or 50 per cent to avoid pilot turnover.

    The pilot shortage that’s affecting commercial and private aviation is affecting the military, as well, as fighter pilots are leaving the military in droves for cushier, better-paying jobs in commercial and private aviation.

    “Despite strong global air traffic growth, the aviation industry continues to face a pilot labour supply challenge, raising concern about the existence of a global pilot shortage in the near-term.” ~Keith Cooper

    In order to compete with the airlines and private flight departments, the military is taking steps to improve benefits to their pilots in addition to increasing pay, including more cockpit time, increased flexibility in assignments, more career options, and shorter deployments.

    Many flight departments and airlines are doing the same.

    While I’m all for more competition among operators – especially with my daughter in expensive flight training – the bigger question here is how can we make training less cumbersome or costly?

    Flight schools

    Flight schools, like Flight Safety International, where my daughter is in training for her airline transport pilot (ATP) license, are competing for certified flight instructors to keep up with demand for training. When there aren’t enough instructors, training is delayed, pilot trainees are discouraged, and expenses increase – all deterrents to increasing the numbers of pilots entering the workforce.

    According to a 2017 study conducted by CAE, a civil aviation training provider, the global airline industry will require 255,000 new pilots in order to meet the demand of airline growth and pilot attrition over the next 10 years. “The largest requirement will come from the Asia-Pacific region which alone will need 90,000 new pilots, followed by the Americas which will need 85,000,” said Kinda Sarrage, Regional Sales Manager for the Middle East, Northern Africa and South Asia.

    “The largest requirement will come from the Asia-Pacific region which alone will need 90,000 new pilots, followed by the Americas which will need 85,000.” ~Kinda Sarrage

    “Many regions have been experiencing a higher than usual turnover of experienced pilots or captains leaving them for the Asian carriers as they offer more competitive packages, tax benefits, and flexible work rotations. To compensate for this loss, airlines should establish second officer recruitment schemes. Though some airlines have begun implementing programs to attract lower hour pilots, it is at a much slower rate than that which is required. If airlines established such programs several years ago, they would have a steady pipeline of first officers coming through that would be upgradable to captains today. The reality is that the pool of available captains is shrinking, and this is becoming apparent as airlines struggle to recruit and train pilots to meet their demands,” Sarrage said.

    SARA Act

    In the US, Senators James Inhofe and Tammy Duckworth are co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation aimed at helping the general aviation community.

    The Securing and Revitalizing Aviation (SARA) Act of 2018 (S.3270) calls for the creation of an Aircraft Pilot Education Program that would allow high school students to get a head start on their flying careers by taking aviation-related courses for credit, according to a press release from the National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA).

    The bill also includes reforms to existing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations to ease the shortage of qualified designated pilot examiners (DPE) needed for initial and recurrent pilot training.

    Additional provisions would enhance existing due process protections for pilots; extend limited liability coverage for FAA designees performing agency duties, but who are not covered under immunities for government employees, as well as for pilots performing volunteer missions; and grant the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) the authority to review denials of airman certificates by the FAA.

    AOPA

    The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has worked diligently for years for medical requirements reform, facilitating the renewal of licenses for more than 5,000 “rusty” pilots.

    The AOPA You Can Fly High School Initiative ninth-grade STEM curriculum was tested in 29 high schools during the 2017-2018 school year. It has proved popular with teachers and students alike because it engages youth with hands-on activities and exposes them to the world of aviation and potential careers. The program, created in partnership with educators, curriculum developers, and aviation experts, offers four-year study options in aviation career pathways and is aligned with rigorous math and science educational standards already in use.

    Each of us should be working toward attracting as many pilots and mechanics as possible to aviation –and then working to keep them here!

    General aviation flight departments are beginning to awaken to a reality that pilot salaries, bonuses and flexibility are changing. What are you doing to adapt?

    Rene Banglesdorf is the CEO of Charlie Bravo Aviation, a worldwide aircraft brokerage based in Austin, Texas. She is an author, speaker and podcast host.

    This article was originally published in Altitudes Magazine on October 14, 2018.

     

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    FAA Relaunches ADS-B Rebate see more

    NAFA member, AOPA, discusses the FAA's relaunching of the ADS-B Rebate.

    The FAA on Oct. 12 reopened the $500 rebate program to support Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out equipage. The program that had ended in September 2017 will now close Oct. 11, 2019. The agency is making $4.9 million available under the new rebate program, which will help to fund 9,792 new ADS-B Out installations.

    Beginning Jan. 2, 2020, aircraft flying in airspace where a transponder is necessary today will be required to be equipped with compliant ADS-B Out technology.

    In a statement provided to AOPA prior to release, FAA Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell said, “The ADS-B mandate is not going away. We are about 15 months from the January 1, 2020 deadline and now is the time for aircraft owners to equip.” 

    AOPA President Mark Baker said, “Pilots across America thank Acting Administrator Elwell for reopening the ADS-B out rebate that will make our skies safer and more efficient by incentivizing even more pilots to adopt the cutting-edge technology. This is the last opportunity for GA aircraft owners to take advantage of the FAA rebate in meeting the 2020 deadline.”

    The previous rebate program, which ran from Sept. 19, 2016, to Sept. 18, 2017, issued more than 10,000 rebate payments.

    Baker continued, “Over the past four years, AOPA has worked with the FAA and manufacturers through the Equip 2020 Working Group to develop lower cost solutions, especially for those flying legacy aircraft which often are not already equipped with a Wide Area Augmentation System GPS sensor, a necessary component for ADS-B Out. As a result of this collaboration, the cost of the equipment has dropped from more than $5,000 a few years ago to less than $2,000 today.”

    A number of avionics manufacturers have recently released lower cost products that meet compliance regulations The Appareo Stratus ESG and Garmin GTX 335 transponders are both $2,995 plus installation, and the Garmin GDL 82 universal access transceiver—which works in conjunction with an existing transponder—is $1,795 plus installation. uAvionix has promised lower cost products that replace aircraft navigation lights, including the skyBeacon, a UAT priced at $1,849 plus installation, which is eligible for installation on certified aircraft as well as experimental and light sport aircraft.

    As before, there are five steps aircraft owners should follow to meet the mandate and receive the $500 rebate. First, purchase the equipment and schedule installation. Second, get a Rebate Reservation Code by reserving a position online. Third, install the equipment. Fourth, conduct the required equipment performance validation flight and get an Incentive Code. Fifth, claim the $500 rebate online using the Rebate Reservation Code and Incentive Code.

    A number of aircraft owners have seen issues with the performance validation flight requirement of the original rebate program, and AOPA recommends a number of steps to minimize the odds of failing the validation flight.

    As with the earlier rebate program, the FAA reports that the new rebate program is available only to those who have not yet equipped their aircraft. Full rebate rules are available on the FAA website.

    To help determine which ADS-B products might be best for your aircraft, see the AOPA ADS-B Selection Tool online.

    This article was originally published by AOPA on October 12, 2018.