Selling Your Airplane in an Era of Remanufactured Aircraft


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New aircraft are crazy expensive. When a new Skyhawk costs $300K, why does anyone want to buy a new airplane? A recent article by John Zimmerman over at Air Facts recaps the situation nicely and explores the new, or maybe not so new, world of aircraft remanufacturing. The good news is that the high cost of new airplanes helps the used market.

We are starting to see companies specialize in remanufacturing but projects like this have been taken on by owners for years. Making a major investment in your airplane right before you sell is a money losing proposition. But what if you could get some of the benefits of an aircraft remanufacturing project without actually making the financial investment?

You can. By investing some time and presenting a vision of what your airplane can be, you do some of the work for potential buyers and may even entice someone to buy that had not even considered a project.

What Makes a Good Potential "Reman" Airplane?

A good potential "reman" airplane has a solid airframe. Everything else is optional. If your plane fits any 3 or more of the items below this may apply to you.

  • High time engine(s) that are still have good cores for trade in
  • Full set of antiquated avionics (360 channel radios, LORAN, ADF)
  • Peeling and/or cracked and faded paint
  • Heavily worn or dated interior

Finding a "Reman" Buyer

Finding a buyer to take on a project is all about showing them the potential of your airplane. For those who follow the blog here you know the importance of pictures in marketing your aircraft. For a project plane, it's the same but with a twist. For a "reman" target you have to show a buyer the potential of your airplane. Yuck... Old AirplaneSome buyers know what they are looking for and want to find a good project but others may not have even considered it. We have to paint a picture so everyone can  see the possibilities of your airplane. Begin by imagining a project to rebuild your airplane from the ground up.

  • What engine will you install?
  • How will your airplane look with a modern paint scheme?
  • What panel and avionics will be installed?
  • What will the interior look like?

Put together some rough numbers and a plan for this work. Who will do the work, how much will it cost and how long will it take?

  • Check engine prices at Pan Yan Aero
  • Maybe include a local major overhaul price too, if you have a less expensive aircraft
  • Most light single and twin paint jobs run $5K - $7K but get an estimate from Tejas Aero or a local shop, if you have one
  • Think about including the cost of a custom paint scheme from Scheme Designers, $1,400 for singles, $1,600 for twins
  • Contact Sarasota Avionics, or your favorite local shop, to work up a plan for an airplane like yours
  • Maybe a custom tail number for $10

You might be able to reuse work from someone else if you have a common aircraft where there has been a documented rebuild project  The AOPA sweepstakes are perfect examples of this. They have done a Cardinal, Cherokee Six and many more. See the full list here. Use Google to research your make and model to see what others have done.

Invest a few hours on this effort. Consider putting together a spreadsheet or other plan documentation. Anything you can do to show potential buyers the plan is real and feasible.

Present a Vision in Your Ad and Spec Sheet

Take all this information and put together three plans:

  1. All out, no expense spared, like new airplane
  2. Value, 80% like new, maybe an overhaul rather than reman engine, sensible avionics
  3. Refresh, overhaul if needed, fresh paint and interior, minimum cost-effective panel and avionics

In your online ads (if you have room) and your spec sheet lay out the options. If possible get images to show potential paint and panel configurations. Describe the plan, how long it might take and a cost range. Speculate on the aircraft performance. Be ready to discuss the options with possible buyers and what a plan to implement them will look like. Emphasize the joy of making an airplane their own.

Bottom line, it doesn't make financial sense to do all this work before trying to sell your airplane, but with a little investment of time you might be able to find, or make, a project buyer.

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