There are few events in life as thrilling as buying a jet. For many, it represents the culmination of hard work, sacrifice and risk taking. Whether for personal travel, business, or both, your transportation needs have evolved to the extent you need access to your own aircraft.
This post is the first of a series outlining the process of purchasing an aircraft, beginning with how to choose the most suitable model for your mission and budget.
To determine the most suitable aircraft type, start by asking yourself a few fundamental questions: Where do you plan to travel? How many people will you carry, on average? How much do you want to spend?
Let’s say for example, you’re based in in San Jose, CA and most of your trips are up and down the West Coast, with occasional trips to the Midwest. You attend quarterly Board meetings in New York. Occasionally, you will carry as many as 7 passengers, however on average you expect 4. You’ve established a $7MM budget.
In today’s market, with a $7MM budget, the world is your oyster. Aircraft options range from 20 year old, large cabin aircraft capable or traveling 3,500 miles, to late model pre-owned light jets. Based on the mission profile in the example above, a late model light jet, such as a Citation CJ3 or Phenom 300, is the most suitable option as it will accomplish 80% of your missions (think Pareto principle). Avoid the temptation to stretch your budget for an older aircraft with range to make your New York trip non-stop. Stopping for gas four times a year will be more palatable than the cost of maintaining a larger, and older, airplane. Additionally, a newer jet with modern systems and amenities will be easier to sell when you’re mission does evolve to the extent you need more range.
With your budget established, begin narrowing down make, model and vintage. Pay close attention to Direct Operating Cost, which is the cost to operate the airplane including fuel, engine and airframe maintenance. Annual Fixed Costs that should be considered include storage, crew salaries, insurance, weather and navigation subscriptions.
Research any upcoming regulatory requirements, and associated cost applicable to your chosen model. For example, to legally operate in U.S. airspace after January 1, 2020, your aircraft will need to be ADS-B Out compliant. Cost varies considerably from model to model, with aircraft 10 years and older being the most expensive to upgrade.
For information on aircraft maintenance status review and how to determine pre-purchase inspection work scope, click here.