Ask Pete!

by Pete Schoeninger

Q: What do you see of the current used airplane market?

A: Used airplane values took a dive after the world events of 9/11, and again when the recession hit about 4 years ago. Overall I think values have been roughly flat at best since then. Today, there seems to be a few less airplanes for sale than a few years ago, but there are also fewer financially qualified buyers. Some airplanes are advertised for months, and even years, at prices that are no longer realistic. Overall, the market seems a little more active for late model airplanes than for older ones. There are some real bargains (relatively speaking) out there in older airplanes, with some selling for not much more than the cost of overhauling the engine. Recently, I sold a nice old Cherokee 140 with a low-time engine for a little under $25,000. That is about 1/10th the cost of a new airplane with similar performance. The cost to overhaul and install the engine would nearly equal the cost of the whole airplane!

Q: My insurance company wants 5 hours of dual in any new airplane I buy, such as an old Bonanza or 172. Isn’t that overkill? I mean I’ve got 300 hours in late model Skyhawks, and a few hours in a Cirrus?

A: You picked two good reasons to get some dual. Did you know that in old 172s, there may be a specific fuel requirement to switch to single tanks above 5,000 feet, and if you don’t, it’s possible to have an engine conk out? With the very old Bonanzas, you have small tanks, and more fuel is drawn to the engine than is used, and several gallons an hour is returned to the left main tank. A CFI with experience in the aircraft could give you lots more details, but both situations have put airplanes in cornfields, so to speak.

Q:  A friend said I had to go to the FSDO office and get some paperwork for my airplane before I could loan it to a friend who flies skydivers. Is that true?

A: Not always. If you look in your pilot operating handbook (POH), a few airplanes have information and give permission on being used as a parachute platform. But most don’t, so if you don’t find proper info in the POH, make a trip to your local FSDO, and call ahead to make sure someone will be there who can help you.

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