Everything You Need to Know About Purchase Evaluations

purchase evaluations

Purchasing an aircraft requires a long, sometimes arduous, process, particularly for first-time aircraft buyers. However, that long process is worth it because it ensures you’re purchasing an aircraft that is top-shape, or you at least know what you’re getting for your investment. To ensure an aircraft is airworthy, there is an extensive purchase inspection checklist that can be completed by an MRO.

Once you’ve decided that you’re ready to purchase an aircraft, and what kind of aircraft you’re aiming to purchase, it’s time to consider how your purchase evaluation will be conducted. Some mechanics and MROs won’t do purchase inspections because they feel it’s too much of a liability if something goes wrong involving a part of the aircraft they didn’t inspect. At Winner Aviation, our purchase evaluations are detailed and rigorous. We leave no stone unturned with purchase evaluations, just as with all other aircraft inspections.

It’s important that you have your own checklist in mind when approaching an MRO to do your purchase evaluation. Below, we have compiled our own checklist of the must-haves for every purchase evaluation, no exceptions.

Paperwork

Before getting started, it’s important that you have the following in-hand and in-order:

  1. Valid airworthiness certificate
  2. Current registration
  3. Operating limitations/placards
  4. Weight and balance with current equipment list
  5. Pilot’s operating handbook
  6. Engine and airframe logbooks
    1. Check for complete maintenance history, airworthiness directive, and service bulletin compliance, as well as entries that suggest repairs due to an accident or incident.
  7. Title search
    1. Insist on a title search to ensure there are no liens against the aircraft that could affect financing or your ability to sell the aircraft

Pre-Inspection

  1. Run the engine until its warm
  2. Check the operation of the starter, vacuum pump, alternator, magnetos, propeller (if constant speed), and other accessories.

Airframe

  1. General Condition Inspection
    1. Check for dings, dents, and cracks that must be repaired because of their nature.
    2. Check for current damage. 
    3. Check for obvious signs of previous damage. 
    4. Open several inspection plates. Check for internal corrosion. 
    5. Check control cables for correct tension. 
    6. Check for fuel leaks on upper and lower wing and fuselage surfaces. 
    7. Check controls (including trim tabs, flaps, and cowl flaps) for alignment, rigging, full travel, freedom of movement and security. 
    8. Inspect cabin and exterior for signs of water leakage and damage. 
    9. Check cowling for fit and security. Note any repair work needed for cracks.
    10. Check the cabin and baggage doors for a correct fit. 
    11. Check cabin and baggage doors for hinge wear. 
    12. Check tires and brakes for security and wear. 
    13. Check glass for cracks, crazing, and scratches. 
    14. Check all antennas for correct installation and security. 
    15. Check pilot heat. Check pilot tube and static sources for obstructions. 
    16. Check fuel vents for obstructions. 
    17. Check fuel caps for tightness and seal.
    18. Check fuel placards for the correct type of fuel and quantity.
    19. Check all external and internal lights for operation.
    20. Check seat belts and harnesses (if installed) for wear.
    21. Check seats for correct movement and that proper stops are installed. 
    22. Check that the compass card is installed. 
    23. Check condition of plastic interior trim. 
    24. Check the oxygen bottle (if installed) for quantity and leaks. 
    25. Check the condition of oxygen masks (if system is installed). 
  2. Check for known problems common to the type of airplane. 
  3. Jack aircraft. Inspect the belly for possible damage or excessive exhaust residue. Cycle the landing gear and check for proper operation and security. Check operation of emergency gear extension system. 
  4. Check the ELT for operation and current battery. 
  5. Check the battery box for corrosion. Check battery for proper charge. 
  6. Check under the instrument panel for proper avionics and equipment wiring. 
  7. Check condition of instrument filter. 
  8. Check circuit breaker panel for correct markings.

Engine

  1. Is the engine clean and dry? Be wary of a spotless engine compartment that may have been treated to a “spray paint” over haul. Check the source of fluid leaks.
  2. Check for oil leaks. 
  3. Check for evidence of exhaust leaks. 
  4. Check the muffler for evidence of cracks or wear. 
  5. Check compression using the differential method. 
  6. Check alternator belt for security and wear. 
  7. Take an oil sample and send to a lab. 
  8. Cut oil filter open and check for unusual metal or other contamination. 
  9. Check security of all accessories. Check them for case cracks. 
  10. Check cylinders for cracks in known locations and around spark plug bosses. 
  11. Check engine case for cracks. 
  12. Check the oil breaker system for obstructions. 
  13. Check condition of ignition harness. 
  14. Check engine mount for cracking and lord mount wear. 
  15. Check condition of firewall. 
  16. Check the condition of electrical wiring forward of the firewall and as it goes through to the cabin. 
  17. Check the propeller for nicks and/or leaks. 
  18. Check operation of all mechanical controls. 
  19. Check ignition switch for proper operation. 

Empennage

  1. Check the horizontal and vertical stabilizer attach points for play and loose rivets
  2. Check the elevator/stabilator attach hinges for excessive play in worn hinges—replacing them could be expensive.
  3. Look for dings or putty on the rudder trailing edge, which would indicate hangar rash or potential control issues.

Wings, ailerons, and flaps

  1. Look for wrinkles, warps, and chafing rivets, and pay particular attention to clean, freshly painted, or waxed areas as it may be difficult to spot problem areas.
  2. Look for dings that may have to be repaired on leading edges of the wings and trailing edges of the ailerons and flaps.
  3. Check wingwalks or strut steps for dents, corrosion, and worn-off rivet heads.
  4. Check fuel caps and drains for fuel stains around seams, rivets, and wing roots. This may indicate leaking tanks or bladders, or leaking sealants.

Avionics

  1. Check the operation of all installed equipment for tolerances and proper operating characteristics.

Count on Winner Aviation for Aircraft Purchase Evaluations

At Winner Aviation, the level of care and detail that will go into your purchase evaluations, as well as all other inspections thereafter, is unparalleled. You can count on us to handle your purchase evaluation with complete transparency, and we’ll be here to guide you along and answer any questions you may have along the way. Contact our maintenance department with any further questions you may have, or to schedule your aircraft purchase evaluation.

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