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Are You Ready to Make the Move?

By Jim Trusty

Are you prepared for another article that states the best way to be prepared is to prepare? I remember an old instructor of mine who used to preach at me to get on course before I got to the course so I wouldn’t have to turn so much at the last minute. It took me ten years to figure that one out, but since that time my philosophy about everything has pretty much followed the first line of this article. Someone said it even better with “Prior planning prevents poor performance.”

Applying this philosophy when preparing to trade up to a cabin class or twin will serve the prospective new owner well. Carefully considering your requirements in an aircraft, and your commitment to receiving appropriate training in it, will lay out a smooth course for the future.

The first thing to consider is your need for a particular aircraft. Have you given the necessary thought to what you are buying, or did a friend just buy something and you want one just like it? I guess if the truth were known, the U.S. economy would go down overnight if all of us only bought exactly what we needed. At least we should try to justify our reason to ourselves before someone in a crowd asks us that same question, and we don’t have a ready answer.

Tell people “We are trading for this airplane because…” (you pick something they will believe):

• We need the extra speed so that we can do more business in a normal working day.

• We are expanding our area of operations, which will require the size of this unit to accommodate all the people we now need to visit to show off our wares.

• It’s a write-off.

• It’s a good investment.

• I don’t see how I have done business without this airplane as long as I have.

• It allows me to spend more time playing golf.

• It gives me more time to spend with my family.

• Better up than lateral I always say.

Or any combination of these tried and true stores that you think will work when you are asked. Believe me, you are going to be asked.

What about price? Is it important? At this level of doing business, if your accountant can’t give you twenty reasons why the government should furnish you with the very best in air transportation, change accountant . . . today! The price, or cost if you will, should have been figured to the penny when you did your initial research about which airplane to buy. You should know exactly how much it costs per minute to let it sit still on the ramp, and what extra it costs in the air. Per hour is programmable, as is per mile, because the costs don’t drastically change as they do with an automobile. There is also depreciation, if any can be figured from previous purchases and sales of like make and model. Engine times are figured by the manufacturer, and decreased by bad maintenance and certainly by bad pilots. Fuel remains at a constant for years at a time. Paint, interiors, avionics, instrumentation, tires, annual inspections, and almost all other things that we spend money on making us airworthy and safe can be figured before the actual sale is consummated.

Now, can you afford the cost? Hopefully, this part of the equation will not play any part in your final decision. If it is even in the equation at this point, some of the fun and utility will be lost as you worry how to pay for this or that as you fly from here to there. Airplanes are very expensive to purchase, operate, and maintain. If any of these things are going to suffer because of money, let’s get a lesser airplane or wait until we can afford what we really want and need.

Finally, can we fly this thing, or are we going to have to sit in the back because we are simply unable to get the necessary training to bring our learning curve up to the task at hand? This is just another research task you must undertake before the sale takes place.

The best way I have seen to get through the transition to a totally different aircraft is to take one of the specialty-training courses offered throughout the United States. The classes are highly accelerated and they actually work. Look for a school that offers a syllabus designed exactly for what you need to make your transition. This syllabus is drawn together after extensive testing to ascertain where you are on the power curve in your flying. The syllabus records what you already know, and what amount of training you have left to cover before you will be considered safe and knowledgeable about the step-up aircraft you are buying.

You may receive some training recommendations from the person selling you the airplane, or they may know the person or school that most everyone goes to for training when a particular aircraft name pops up. Certainly check these names out before making a final decision. Whomever you choose, they are going to be very pleased with their new student, and it will save you a lot of money and time if you are arriving with at least superior piloting skills for the aircraft you are now flying. I would hope that your training for this transition will be taken care of before purchasing the aircraft. It just may be, and it does happen, that some are not qualified for a move up in their flying career at the time they would like.

Talk to your insurance carrier at length and see what requirements they will expect from you in this new airplane. They will also have some names of instructors and schools that they have worked with in the past. The insurance company will smile down on you if you can produce documentation of past intensive training you have lived through, and the future schedule of continued training that you intend to pursue. The money saved on insurance alone will more than pay for your training, and will certainly make you a better-qualified, more informed pilot.

You can expect the training part of the transaction to be the biggest part of the whole deal – and that makes me very happy. I rejoice as the number of accidents and incidents go down over the years, a trend that can be traced to back to training that better prepares pilots for what may happen while operating their aircraft. Thankfully, most of the time emergencies don’t arise, but being trained to know what to do should you ever be faced with one can certainly save lives. It is also great job security to know how to fly your particular airplane, especially when that fact is obvious to everyone that flies with you. The greatest compliment to a pilot, no matter what level, is to have someone say nice things about their flying ability.

So, let’s recap what we think is going to happen should you decide to transition up the scale. (And remember that the same things hold true whether you are going up or coming down, from single to twin, twin to turbine, or anything else that flies.)

Research everything carefully that has an effect on your making this move. Leave no stone unturned, and don’t trust the final decision to anyone else. Your needs must be at the very top of this decision. Research should tell you everything you need to know about the aircraft. How has it been used, and how hard has it been run? Can you speak with all the owners and pilots that really know the numbers on this particular aircraft? Are the logbooks ready for expert scrutiny from your very own mechanic? I personally hope that your decision to buy a particular unit will not in any way based on emotion (but it probably will be). Emotion will throw you a curve, and allow some things to become perfectly acceptable that in reality should not be. We always hope that common sense will allow us to get all the airplane we want, need, and can afford. That’s the real objective, isn’t it?

Jim Trusty is a former National Flight Instructor of the Year (1997), the first ever Southern Region FAA Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year (1995). He works daily as a full-time, FAA “Gold Seal” flight instructor.
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The material in this publication is for advisory information only and should not be relied upon for navigation, maintenance or flight techniques. SW Regional Publications and the staff neither assume any responsibility for the accuracy of this publication's content nor any liability arising fom it
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