Top questions about owning an airplane

The aviation services department of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) gets a lot of calls about aircraft ownership. Here are the most common:

Q: How can I determine the true value of an airplane?

A: You can use the AOPA website (AOPA.org) to determine an airplane’s value. Keep in mind that there are other factors that may not be included in the price, including damage, lost logbooks and the condition of paint and interior.

Q: How do I replace a lost airworthiness certificate?

A: Call your Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) and make an appointment with an airworthiness inspector. Ask what documentation you will need to bring. Typically, you will need proof of ownership, along with the maintenance logbooks, plus any other documentation the inspector requires. Find out more at FAA.gov.

Q: My family attorney suggests I put my plane into a family trust. What documents do I need to do this?

A: Send the FAA Aircraft Registry a bill of sale selling the aircraft from yourself to the trust, naming yourself as trustee, a filled-out registration form, a certified copy of the trust document, and a $5 check made out to the Department of the Treasury.

Q: I recently became a private pilot and bought my first airplane. In order to save some money maintaining my airplane, I would like to work on it myself. What can I do and what regulations should I reference?

A: The FAA regulations within 14 CFR Part 43 cover preventive maintenance, rebuilding and alteration. Section 43.3(g) states that the holder of a private pilot certificate may perform preventive maintenance. There are 32 owner-performed maintenance tasks outlined in Appendix A of Part 43. The oil change is one of the most common owner-performed tasks. Consider asking a mechanic to walk you through the first oil change and show you anything specific about your airplane. Also, check with the airport manager to find the best location to set up shop. You will need to make an entry in the engine logbook. You also should consult the appropriate service manuals and manufacturer’s service publications before getting your hands dirty. Do not go beyond the 32 allowed maintenance points, which could result in an FAA enforcement action and invalidate your insurance.

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