Seek Experience and Information as First-Time Aircraft Buyer

December 13, 2022

Private aviation has seen more first-time buyers in the past 24 months than ever before. The advantages of controlling one’s schedule and time combined with the commercial airlines’ failure to take care of their preferred travelers have launched a new era in business aircraft ownership, and the premium value it provides.

So, productivity-seeking businesses and individuals can just walk into a broker’s office and pick out a new aircraft, right? Not exactly, and more importantly, they shouldn’t make a major decision like that without doing some due diligence. That requires an experienced advisor to guide them through the process.

Recently, Hatt & Associates helped two prospective aircraft buyers navigate the aircraft market. In both cases, the answers we provided turned out to be different than what they originally imagined, but they left in a better spot than before.

Evaluating the Mission

A first-time aircraft buyer is often unfamiliar with exactly what kind of aircraft they might need, only that they want a better aviation solution than what they currently have. In the first buyers’ case, the budget had a lot of range, but the group had a specific aircraft in mind.

For a Colorado-based company, a majority of their trips were within 1,000 nautical miles, going to other destinations in the Rocky Mountains or Texas. They came in with the idea of a newer, light jet, for the 1-2 people who would normally be using it.

But after evaluating their use cases more carefully, that initial thought didn’t make a lot of sense. There were enough times where the passenger count would be more, and the distances greater. Those missions would require more stops, more refueling than originally planned for. Would that be the best way to use this asset? Probably not.

The buyers also wanted a very new jet, but we were able to show them the advantages of maximizing their investment with a larger, slightly older preowned one. It wouldn’t sacrifice safety or efficiency to get one missing a few bells or whistles in avionics, but it does make a major difference in overall budget.

Hatt advisors understand that determining the right parameters upfront delivers a better business tool in the aircraft later. Making an investment of this size is a big step for first-time buyers. In this case we were able to use our network of connections to get the buyers directly into the cabins and seats of aircraft to consider.

The group was able to sit in models that they were previously unfamiliar with and could see the advantages firsthand. We were able to secure an aircraft maintained and based in Colorado, which added more peace of mind, knowing that it could handle the unique challenges of flying in and out of the mountainous region.

That experience and advice can be the most valuable piece of information a buyer gets before the purchase. The final decision on purchasing should be made beyond a listing on a website or from a brochure.

Mapping a Strategy

In the case of another prospective buyer, Hatt advisors made sure to give the group information of how much is involved beyond the physical aircraft. What will be the aircraft management options? Is there already a flight department and crewing solution available?

Those questions – and answers – are key to making sure the operation will be a success after the sale. It’s also an area where having deep connections with all facets of the aviation industry is key. We work with a network of pilots, management companies, MROs and FBOs to handle details the new owners don’t anticipate. We have the expertise to find the other experts.

For this client, the timing was not right to make the purchase. It’s also important to have advisors who aren’t looking to finalize a sale just to make a sale. Hatt is looking to assist any aircraft buyer on their next aircraft after this one, not just one to reach an arbitrary deadline. Analyzing the market and preparing a buyer for the eventual purchase provides clients a strategy of how to move forward, six or nine months down the line.

Contact us to walk you through all the steps of aircraft transactions, and to discover the right aircraft for your unique aviation needs