buying an aircraft

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Finance, answers your aircraft purchase questions. see more

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

    Question:  I am a healthy 60 year old, retired student pilot with aspirations to purchase a used Cessna 182 for recreational travel after successfully passing my private pilot check ride. My intention at this point is to pay cash /not finance, but that decision is not based on considerations other than a personal aversion to debt. My expected budget for the purchase is $100-$175K, including any ancillary expenses associated with the purchase (inspections, taxes, fees, etc.) I am ignorant of the various considerations involved in choosing / buying an airplane and am curious about any services AOPA may offer to assist new pilots in purchasing their first airplane.

    Are there benefits to financing? Is there a “playbook” on buying an airplane that AOPA provides for its members? Is there a financial advantage to waiting, i.e., is the current market in used GA aircraft likely to soften into a “buyers market?” Is it typically more cost effective to acquire a low tech platform and update avionics or look for a plane with glass panel already installed? Other considerations not mentioned?

    Answer: The biggest benefit to financing is for folks with cash flow that want to preserve liquidity. Right now, especially, we are seeing people preserve capital either for investing in the market or for a safety margin if things start to get tight, cash flow-wise, down the road. In terms of a “play book”, we have a great resource page on our website for members trying to navigate the purchasing and financing process: https://finance.aopa.org/aviation-finance/first-time-buyers

    At this point, it seems unlikely for the used GA aircraft market to soften. Inventory levels of good 182s was limited prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. What we’ve seen since the COVID-19 outbreak is very few new listings of aircraft for sale, making it just as hard to find deals. Could it change down the road?  Possibly, but at the rate things are going it won’t likely be for a while longer. In terms of acquiring a low tech platform and updating the avionics vs. looking for an airplane with glass panel already installed, you are almost always better off (economically) buying an airplane someone else has done upgrades on. They put the money in but won’t get it back out. We always recommend that members get pre-approved so that when you find the airplane you like you’re not going to lose out to a cash buyer. Please reach out to us by calling 800.627.5263 so we can answer any other questions you may have.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Finance on May 29, 2020.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Non-Traditional vs. Traditional Aircraft Payment Methods see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses your options when it comes to aircraft payment methods.

    In a seller’s market like this one, the ability to act swiftly might make all the difference. So non-traditional financing sources like a margin loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC), used in limited scenarios, can make sense. However, there are worthwhile considerations to using them over the more traditional methods of paying for an airplane—cash or financing through an approved aircraft lender.

    AOPA Aviation Finance (AAF) recently negotiated a great aircraft loan with an extremely competitive financing structure for a client. The client ultimately rejected the loan in favor of using a non-traditional, margin loan to pay for his aircraft instead. A margin loan is designed to allow a stock investor to borrow money to invest in more stocks, using one’s shares as security. Using a margin loan can help a person increase one’s returns. It can also magnify one’s losses, especially if using it to pay for an airplane.

    Let’s say, a sudden market correction triggers a margin call. A margin call happens when the investor's equity, as a percentage of the total market value of securities, falls below a certain percentage requirement. Having to make good on a margin call could create a disastrous situation—like selling the airplane to satisfy the margin call or liquidating the equities. Odds are also good that if the stock market falls, so too does the used aircraft market. Losses magnified.

    Another client wanted to use her HELOC to pay cash for an airplane. She was tempted because the HELOC had already been approved, just waiting to be tapped. For her, the traditional aircraft financing process was taking longer than she wanted to endure.

    Over five years, the average length of airplane ownership, it’s reasonable to predict a major event like roof replacement, foundation repair, or even flood damage might occur. Exhausting the HELOC as a long-term aircraft loan could leave her with zero equity to cover such emergencies. She would then be forced into borrowing against the airplane, or even selling it.

    A margin loan or a HELOC used as a stop-gap, bridge loan for a short period of time—think three to six months, might be prudent only until a post-purchase, reimbursement loan is negotiated.

    For all intents and purposes, non-traditional financing options are akin to the more traditional method of paying cash for an airplane. About half of all airplane owners will pay cash. Many of them do so with the intention of getting a post-sale, reimbursement loan. While cash and non-traditional financing might increase the speed of the airplane transaction, they also might increase its complexity. That’s why we advise speaking with AAF, or at least with an aircraft financier, before considering such strategies.

    Lenders will stipulate certain actions occur prior to a non-traditional aircraft sale before they will even consider financing it. Stipulations like a cash sale be conducted through a third-party escrow company like AAF partner Aero-Space Reports. Lenders are legally obligated to know where all monies related to an aircraft purchase go, who the buyer is, and whether the buyer is an upstanding individual. The third-party escrow company can help verify the identity of the buyer, as well as assist in the title search. Most lenders will stipulate an aircraft have a clean title, or they won’t consider financing it.

    AAF, or the lender, can also offer good counsel on the potential pitfalls of buying an “orphan” or obsolete aircraft. That’s right. Lenders are not eager to finance every type of aircraft. To a lender, number of units manufactured, parts availability, and current service availability matter. For example, finding financing for a Beechcraft Duke will typically be harder than for a Beechcraft Baron. Fewer than 600 Dukes were manufactured over a relatively short, 12-year time frame, 1968-1980. All were powered by a variant of the relatively obscure, Lycoming TIO-541-E1 engine. Compare that to the Baron’s 6,884-plus units manufactured since 1961, most of which are powered by the ubiquitous Continental IO-470 or IO-520 engines. You pay a penalty for an orphan/obsolete aircraft, assuming anybody will finance it.

    A commoditized aircraft—one produced in abundance—like a Cessna 172 or a Cirrus SR22, will garner far more options for financing over a 20-year amortization than, say, a Navion. The same typically holds true for turboprops, but this rule of thumb does not apply to jets. Rapid technological advancements and limited manufacturing runs tend to render jets obsolete quickly. While there are some options for older jet aircraft, the most options are available for jets manufactured within the last 20 years.

    That’s why taking the traditional aircraft financing route is often the best choice for prospective aircraft owners. AAF or the lender will give a reasonable expectation of how much of a loan, and what terms are possible, tailor-made to your situation. We know, in the end, how you pay for an aircraft affects what the aircraft will ultimately cost you.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Finance on September 4, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Top Considerations When Purchasing a New Aircraft see more

    NAFA member, Essex Aviation, shares top considerations when purchasing a new aircraft.

    Private aviation offers several benefits, including comfort and convenience. If you or your client is considering private aviation for business or personal use, there are several considerations to take into account as you evaluate your options.

    Advice for buyers when purchasing a new aircraft

    Follow the 80/20 rule

    When shopping for an aircraft it can be tempting to “over buy.” To avoid purchasing an aircraft that delivers more than you need, consider how you will be using the aircraft, a majority of the time. Will it just be you and perhaps a business partner traveling to meetings a couple states away? Or will you be traveling internationally with your entire family monthly? The aircraft you choose should meet your mission requirements roughly 80 percent of the time. So, if you will only be traveling internationally once in a while but will be using your aircraft primarily for short business trips, consider purchasing an aircraft that best supports the business trips and consider utilizing charter or purchasing a fractional share to meet your international travel needs.

    Weigh your options: New vs. Pre-Owned

    Spend some time determining whether a new or pre-owned aircraft is the right option for you. Depending on your needs, a pre-owned aircraft may be a more affordable choice and will offer you the option of doing various types of refurbishments, upgrades or customization to the aircraft to meet your needs.  A new aircraft can be fully designed but the lead time for delivery will be anywhere from 12 – 18 months or longer.

    Bring an unbiased aviation advisor on demo flights

    Before deciding on an aircraft, often you can do demo flights on different planes to assist with your evaluation of the various options. It can be extremely beneficial to bring a professional and unbiased aviation advisor along with you on the flight to assist with your review of the aircraft and the various options each aircraft type provides.  Each demo flight will provide an opportunity for you and your aviation advisor to work together to determine which aircraft type best meets your needs and requirements.

    Decide what’s important to you — speed / range / cabin size?

    While every aircraft owner would like to say I want it all, the reality is that most aircraft can meet many, but perhaps not every desire of the purchaser. Your aviation advisor can assist you with the evaluation of how each aircraft model can meet your defined requirements.  An aviation advisor can also assist you with navigating all of the available information so that you can truly understand each option, including the pros and cons of each and ultimately make as informed a decision as possible.

    If you’re financing, start the process early

    Since a loan or lease for an aircraft purchase is an involved process, the financial institution you choose to work with will need time to perform their due diligence. So, if you are going to compare rates and request proposals from multiple lenders it’s important to leave yourself time. The initial review and due diligence process to receive a formal proposal typically takes about a month and sometimes longer.

    Determine how you will be using the aircraft

    If you are primarily using your aircraft for business purposes you may be able to benefit from certain tax benefits.  Your aviation advisor can recommend an aviation specific legal and/or tax advisor to work with your internal advisors on properly structuring your aircraft ownership and utilization to maximize the use of any tax benefits.

     

    The new aircraft acquisition process

    The process of acquiring a new aircraft typically includes:

    The initial evaluation and aircraft identification

    There are many choices when it comes to purchasing a newly produced aircraft — starting with the decision to purchase an aircraft that allows you to choose the floorplan and all the specifications and materials or a “white-tail” aircraft, which has already been produced and gives you very limited opportunities to make changes. Your aviation advisor can work with you to evaluate different aircraft options based on your specific needs and desires.

    The design phase

    Once you have identified an aircraft for purchase you enter the layout and design phase.  Your aviation advisor can assist you throughout the series of specification meetings to assist with any questions.

    The production phase

    With a final and approved design in place the aircraft production process is launched. The production process for a new aircraft can take up to a year or longer depending on several variables.  Your aviation advisor can provide regular on-site representation to review and monitor the on-going production process.

    Final delivery and acceptance

    When your aircraft is ready for final delivery your aviation advisor along with the owner’s existing flight crew will work through the formal delivery and acceptance process with the manufacturer.  Once the aircraft has been accepted the final delivery and transfer of title will be completed.

    The aircraft acquisition process can get complicated and has several parties involved. Retaining an unbiased aviation advisor to represent you and manage the complete process will provide you with both value and comfort throughout the acquisition process.

    If you would like to speak with an experienced aviation advisor who can provide unbiased advice and help you through the aircraft acquisition process, contact Essex Aviation.

    Essex Aviation Group, Inc. was founded in 2013 with the primary goal of providing clients with the most current industry knowledge and experience, a vital component in evaluating business and private aviation transportation needs.

    Representing clients in a wide range of services, Essex builds client relationships through dedication to trust, integrity and a level of responsiveness not found anywhere else. Services include new or pre-owned aircraft acquisitions, new aircraft completion management, pre-owned aircraft refurbishment and upgrade management, block and ad hoc charter services, and much more.

    This article was originally published on Essex Aviation's blog.