Aircraft Acquisition: It Takes the Right Team — Originally published in BusinessAir Magazine, May 2015, Volume 25, No. 5.
If I could meet every buyer before they start the aircraft acquisition process, I would give them the following advice: please put together a qualified, experienced purchasing team.
The first member of the team is the aviation attorney. A legal expert in aviation issues and transactions, the ideal aviation attorney can help structure the ownership with the least amount of risks and ensure compliance with federal aviation regulations. A knowledgeable aviation attorney will also provide thoughtful tax planning and review the often voluminous documents that govern all aspects of the acquisition. Most importantly, an experienced and qualified aviation attorney will provide resources to help assemble the rest of the experienced purchasing team.
Next is the aircraft broker. Many brokers specialize in certain types of aircraft; some choose to limit their services to representing buyers or sellers only. It is important to select a broker that knows and understands the market for the buyer’s preferred aircraft type and has years of experience analyzing that market and its trends. The broker must have outstanding connections to be able to fully search the global market and excellent resources to support the transaction, from aircraft selection to coordination of the pre-buy inspection.
If the buyer chooses to use a management company to handle aircraft operations after the closing, then select the RIGHT management company for the job. The management company should have experience with the aircraft type being purchased and must have exceptional safety standards and culture. Unlike the rest of the team members, the management company will be a partner long after the acquisition is completed, so stellar credentials and service are essential.
The lender (if the buyer is financing the purchase), insurance broker and escrow agent are also important members of the team. The ideal lender should have a strong aviation presence with various financing lease and loan options. The insurance broker ought to specialize in business aircraft insurance and be able to articulate the differences between the fleet policy of the management company and an individual policy and help the owner decide which policy is right for him or her. The escrow agent will handle all document processing and flow of funds. They must have flawless management of the documentation — there is nothing worse than a closing day where no closing occurs.
With the right team of experts, an often complicated and time-consuming transaction process can be simplified. The final result will be a well-informed, satisfied buyer with a well-priced, well-maintained aircraft that fits the specified mission.
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