Aircraft Buying Quick Tip #1 – Don’t automatically let the shop the broker recommends do the pre-buy inspection.

I always recommend that buyers engage a non-interested party to conduct a pre-buy. Remember, the broker is looking out for the best interest of the seller, not the buyer.

This could mean bringing your mechanic with you when you look at a new plane, contracting another shop, or having the aircraft flown to a third party. Some aircraft have manufacturer supported service centers than can be utilized that might even be more familiar with the aircraft and provide a better inspection based on their knowledge of the specific make and model. In the past year I have worked with buyers of both Cirrus and Beechcraft aircraft and had them fly potential aircraft hours away from where they were located to quality service centers to get the best inspections. In both cases, the process resulted in purchases, but also in finding items of concern that the buyers with whom I was working were able to negotiate reductions in the sale price and address prior to their taking ownership of the aircraft.

A thing to keep in mind is that mechanics can be fiercely territorial and every mechanic I have ever met has been better than any other mechanic I have ever met. How do I know this? They have told me so.

Every mechanic is probably going to find something “that the last mechanic” did wrong. Take this with a grain of salt. We all like to think we are the best pilots or mechanics out there. To some degree it is professional pride. A good mechanic will tell you if they are not the right one for the job.

Do a little homework on a mechanic or shop you are going to use to do a pre-buy inspection. Know their strengths and weaknesses. If they are honest with you, that is a very good first step. Don’t pick the shop across the field that the last mechanic hates. As small as the aviation community is, remember that there may be personal histories between mechanics or shops in the area that could influence the outcome of a pre-buy inspection. Make sure you are getting a good inspection, not a biased one. To remedy this, I many times find someone from a little ways away or bring someone in to do the inspection. It may mean paying a little to move the aircraft or paying a mechanic to travel to the aircraft and renting some hangar space for a day. But it will always be better than having personal politics affect the decision about the quality of the aircraft you are considering.

Want to learn more from practical experience
about buying your first, next, or additional aircraft?

Check out the new book from ASA, by me, Jason Blair,
An Aviators Guide to Buying an Aircraft by clicking
the book cover to the right or by clicking here.

ATP Certification Numbers Show a Slight Increase in 2019

ATP pilot certification trends continue to head upwards with the 2019 numbers. That’s a good thing for filling the needed seats in U.S. airlines.

Remembering that there was a major change in certification requirements in the past decade, we were seeing a downward trend of certification issuances for ATP level certificates here in the United States that quickly spiked ahead of the changes in the regulations, with the highest number of certifications taking place being in 2016 just before the new certification requirements took place.

In 2017, the number of ATP certificates dropped by over 50%.

Since then, and as airlines and trading providers have come up to speed with new ATP CTP courses and developed in house ATP training efforts (at many of the regional airlines or through partner schools with whom they work), the number of ATP certificates has been steadily increasing to meet the demand of aggressive airline hiring.

While not back to the numbers we were seeing before regulation changes, the number of ATP certificates issued in 2019 more closely resembled that of years prior to the regulations changes.

This expansion will more effectively help airlines fill their employee needs in the upcoming years. This data is worth continuing to track as many airlines still predict shortfalls in hiring efforts compared with the attrition of pilots who are retiring or taking positions with other service providers in larger aircraft.

With that in mind, here is what the data is showing with the latest years certification issuances included.

An Aviators Field Guide to Buying an Aircraft and An Aviators Field Guide to Owning an Aircraft released by ASA!

Sometimes, you gotta pat your own back! And on your own birthday, why not, right? Well, I certainly have to pat the back of the publisher that helped make a cool project happen.

Collecting all my notes from working with friends and customers on buying and owning their aircraft of the years, and a few from my own personal experiences, we put them together into two new books.

So, with a special thanks to Aviation Supplies and Academics (ASA), I am excited to announce that the next two books in the An Aviators Field Guide series are now available!

An Aviator’s Field Guide to Buying an Airplane teaches readers to assess if aircraft ownership is right for their situation, determine the full cost of owning and operating an airplane, and to select the right make and model for their needs. It also helps readers to consider factors such as avionics and aircraft age, to evaluate an aircraft prior to purchase, and to negotiate the sale and find financing and insurance. Then, completing the paperwork and getting the new aircraft safely home are included as well.

An Aviator’s Field Guide to Owning an Airplane will help new owners determine the full cost of aircraft ownership, select insurance, and consider tax implications. Guidance is given on picking an airport to call home, how to assess and choose aircraft storage, and safely move an airplane. Also covered: how to manage maintenance work, find and organize important documents, manage and determine the significance of inoperative equipment, evaluate potential modifications for improved performance, upgrade avionics, overhaul or swap an engine, budget for future maintenance, and more.

Click the cover picture of either book or visit to check out
these two new and other books in the series.

As a CFI, How do I compare in my number of CFI signoffs to other CFIs in 2019?

Ok, want to know how many other CFIs signed off as many, or more applicants for practical tests than you did in 2019?

I can give you a little data that might put the work you did last year in perspective.

According to FAA Airman Certification data, the following

12,387 – CFIs signed off 1-4 applicants for practical tests;

3,618 – CFIs signed off 5-9 applicants for practical tests;

1,314 – CFIs signed off 10-19 applicants for practical tests;

143 – CFIs signed off 20-29 applicants for practical tests;

27 – CFIs signed off 30-39 applicants for practical tests;

11 – CFIs signed off 40-49 applicants for practical tests;

10 – CFIs signed off 50-99 applicants for practical tests, and

6 – CFIs signed off 100-199 applicants for practical tests

Only 1 CFI signed off more than 200 applicants, now that’s a busy CFI!

A total of 17,571 of the over 100,000 CFIs out there actively signed off at least 1 applicant for a practical test. Which means, the other over 80,000 were not in the mix for signing students off for practical tests in 2019.