How much is an aircraft really worth?

If you are planning to buy or sell an aircraft soon, a lengthy article for General Aviation News by Todd Huvard, the president of AircraftMerchants, a North Carolina-based aircraft brokerage, is well worth reading. In the article, appropriately titled The Price Is Wrong, Todd voiced his concerns about online aircraft valuation guides. In fact, he pointed out that the worst offenders in setting wrong aircraft prices or price expectations are the casual users of AOPA’s online version of their vRef valuation guide as these novice users tend to input the wrong data.

In addition, Todd was also critical of the proprietary software used by the National Aircraft Appraisers Association (NAAA) saying that its “cumbersome, archaic and does not work very well.” On the other hand, Todd noted that most professional brokers (along with insurers and lenders) depend on expensive subscriptions to the industry-standard Aircraft Bluebook Price Digest.

Todd also mentioned a few other often-overlooked areas of the valuation process that will impact an aircraft’s value. These areas include:

  • Paint and interior
  • Engine time and overhaul type
  • Damage
  • Condition adjustment

At the end of his article, Todd concluded that if you are in the market to buy or sell an aircraft, take it slowly and make sure that you have “considered the genuine condition of the airplane, using pricing guidelines, market trends and common sense to set the price.” And if you are still unsure of an aircraft’s value, he advises that you should then consult a professional aircraft broker. 

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