Detailed physical survey of aircraft technical status, records and modification state is essential. When acquiring any aircraft, whether the unit is 12 months or 12 years old, it is important to carefully evaluate the precise history and status of the machine through detailed physical survey of the aircraft itself and its records and to ensure regulatory compliance.
The records will show how and where the aircraft has been operated and maintained since new. Certain trends may be identifiable and justify further investigation. Any damage or repairs will be identified and investigated. Compliance with obligatory airworthiness directives, required inspections, and mandatory or recommended service bulletins will be established. Key component records will be examined carefully to verify original source and establish service life remaining. Records must be complete.
Options taken up during original manufacture and subsequent refurbishment, modifications, repairs and upgrades can result in a large number of possible permutations in the individual aircraft specification, empty weight, value and certification status.
In particular, many interiors on the larger private aircraft are very much customised and need to be assessed against the buyer’s precise needs. Who built and installed the interior, the certification basis employed, and its ‘maintainability’ will be key-factors. A particularly heavy interior, for example, trading aircraft weight for fuel capacity and/or payload, may impact on an aircraft’s ability to operate effectively over long distances.
The physical survey will include a full systems check, verifying that all systems are operating correctly, and thorough borescope inspections of engines. Repairs that may have been conducted on the airframe or engines will be verified as complying with manufacturer recommendations, approved drawings and certification requirements.
An engineer or independent organisation knowledgeable of the specific type is engaged to inspect and report on the candidate aircraft, also taking into account the rules and standards applicable in the purchaser’s intended state of registration.