It takes a village to buy an airplane

An African proverb says it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village — and a pile of money — to buy an airplane.

Given the amount of money involved, it pays to do your homework and assemble an acquisition team. Consulting firm Conklin & de Decker says the first person you need is a technical analyst. This person defines the mission and develops measurable criteria for judging the ability of the aircraft to perform its mission. For a pilot buying a plane for pleasure and business, consulting friends or the Internet and reading aviation magazines is a good first step.

Next you need a financial analyst. It could be your bank or financial institution. Remember, financing is more than just a good interest rate. What are the tax and balance sheet implications?

Another close ally is your tax advisor. How do you plan to structure ownership? Where and when will you take delivery? Are there sales or use taxes due and if so, who will collect and pay them? If the aircraft is to be used for both business and pleasure, the IRS will limit deductions for business expenses. An aviation tax expert will help ensure deductions are handled properly.

A lawyer will ensure all contracts are appropriate and, hopefully, protect you from the beginning of the transaction until long after.

Don’t forget your insurance broker. He needs to be kept informed as to what, when and how the aircraft is to be used.

You also might want to work with a sales professional. This person should know the state of the aircraft sales market, who to contact about pre-buy inspections and appraisals and what sort of time it could take to sell your current aircraft.

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