Pre-purchase Inspections/ Aircraft Selling and Purchasing

Allow us to share one piece of wisdom with you about the importance of pre-purchase inspections on the aircraft you’re intending to buy. Just do it!

When spending money on an aircraft, spending a little bit more in pre purchase costs and some travel time for your AME / Mechanic / Technician is effectively an insurance policy for the purchaser’s protection. If you’re buying an aircraft that’s thousands of miles away you might consider inquiring locally about an AME to do the pre-purchase for you. As with everything, circumstances will influence your thinking. This includes buying NEW !!
Knowing what you are buying before you buy it will make you an informed and well educated buyer. Finding problems won’t kill the deal, it simply offers you a bargaining tool for price negotiations. Many paperwork items can assist prior to having anyone leave their desk. The most valuable helicopters have the best paperwork, historical records, and access further scanned and archived records to birth. Can the inspections be proven and are they documented within work orders, or service packages, binders, etc ?

There is no document in the CARs (Canadian Aircraft Regulations), FAR’s, EASA regulations or elsewhere that defines a pre-purchase inspection or provides a checklist. I recommend you call an AMO, or MRO facilities that have experience in the aircraft type, proper maintenance ratings for the specific helicopter type, and a good track record in the industry with the particular model.  Probably not best to have an newbie or someone that doesn’t maintain the helicopter type on a regular basis.

You should be looking for things like this:

  • Time life items , overhauls, IFR certification dates, ELT,  age, calendar replacement dates. Dates are very important. Remember, some OEM’s require inspections, overhauls, hard life times, calendar replacement times, calendar inspection times, calendar overhaul times, cycle time replacements, landing cycles, engine cycles, performance trends, oil sample trends, etc.
  • Complete logs including original logs. Once you have access to the Logs, sit down with your AME and read all of them! Know how many you should have from NEW !!
  • Be aware of damage history. Depending on the extent of the damage, the price of the aircraft will be impacted.
  • Ask for an oil analysis and any trending data available as well, and Engine performance trendinng
  • Any STC and correct approvals as per Transport Canada regulations, FAA, EASA regulations.
  • Airworthiness Directive compliance and mandatory Service Bulletins if applicable. Modifications records.
  • Corrosion inspection is very very important.
  • Keep in mind a pre-purchase is not an annual inspection or 100hr equivalent and you shouldn’t be looking to have your AME / Mechanic sign off an Annual. The two inspections are different.

More Questions ?

  • Do you need to ferry the aircraft over a long distance? Or Truck ? Do you have a know aircraft shipper ?
  • Do you have Country specific Customs and Import / Export taxes / fees / documentation ?
  • Do you need a Flight Permit or Temporary Registration ? How long does that take ?
  • Does your local Airworthiness Office require notification of intended flights or Permits ?
  • Does your Insurance Company consider you qualified to fly the aircraft as PIC?
  • Will you need a ferry pilot to help you move the aircraft? Are the Current and Rated on Type ?
  • Is your AME qualified to fly the aircraft?

Some of the areas that you want to have a maintenance expert look at are:

  • Aircraft records, (logbooks, etc.) – are they complete and accurate?
  • Aircraft damage history – has the aircraft been involved in an accident?
  • Airworthiness Directive (AD) status – are all applicable AD’s complied with and signed off properly?
    • Engine condition and history – is the engine performing as it should?
    • System operations – are they functioning normally?
    • Modifications and proper recording of the modifications – are all FAA form 337s, STCs accounted for?
    • Corrosion damage – where has the aircraft lived? Is there hidden corrosion?
    • Another important part of a pre-purchase evaluation is the acceptance flight. How does the aircraft handle? Does it seem to be in rig? Does it flyOK? Do the gauges all agree with each other? Are there any excessive vibrations. Does the Engine Meet Power Performance Specs ?

If an aircraft needs to be imported into Canada, it will need to undergo an Importation Evaluation Process. This is different from a pre-purchase inspection.
It is our experience that many sellers are unaware of many of the findings that may surface during the pre-purchase inspection.

Following the inspection the parties have four choices: • If all looks acceptable, complete the sale.
• Complete the sale with a price adjustment to offset the cost of discrepancies.
• Discontinue the sale and pay out the AMO for services rendered.
• Work out another equitable arrangement between the parties.

Since both the buyer and the seller are at the end of a long road, most choose to work out an agreement that will allow everyone involved to settle the deal in a mutually agreeable fashion.

Tips for your pre purchase evaluation:

  • When performing these evaluations always prepare and use a checklist so as not to forget any of the items that you want looked at.
  • Always start the pre-purchase evaluation with clear and well-defined parameters so that everyone involved (the buyer, seller and evaluator) are working from the same page.
  • In the end, a well performed evaluation can make the aircraft buying experience much easier and ownership more cost effective.
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Contact us for more information on our maintenance and upgrade services. Call 604.465.5008 or email us at