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Finding airplanes for sale is quite different than shopping for cars. There are no giant airplane dealerships like those associated with automobiles. As airplanes are much more expensive than cars, test flights normally take place much later in the shopping process, and usually at the owner's expense. This means that the airplane shopper must be more persistent and inquisitive than the typical car shopper, and that he do his homework farther in advance. This article will focus on propeller driven, single engine, passenger planes. Purchasing antique aircraft, business jets, or airliners all involve very different considerations.
Finding new airplanes for sale usually means dealing directly with the manufacturer. The general website of the manufacturer of interest is the most logical first stop. Here you will find specifications and options for the available models, as well as contact information for the sales department and authorized dealers. Do not expect to see prices listed, as this information is usually only provided after establishing direct contact. Serious customers will be assigned a personal sales consultant who will answer all the relevant questions, advise the buyer about available options, and also assist with financing if desired. Beyond that, professional aircraft reviews in popular aviation magazines and websites become paramount, as do user reviews and discussions.
The purchase process is much slower than with a car. Prospective buyers must often travel at their own expense to the factory location in order to inspect and test fly the desired aircraft model. Some larger manufacturers, however, have a few authorized dealers near major cities with a few airplanes for sale, though it is very uncommon for someone to simply walk in to a sales office or dealership, pay for a new plane, and then fly it off the lot. In most cases, the individual plane being purchased will not even be built until after the buyer puts down a deposit. Then there is a wait of several months, or even a year or more before the aircraft is delivered to the customer. When taking delivery of a factory-bought aircraft, it is normal for the manufacturer to provide a few hours of familiarization training to the pilot-purchaser.
A different approach is required when searching for used airplanes for sale. While the local municipal airport is not a bad place to start, it is usually necessary to do a nationwide search if one is looking for a specific model of plane. There are numerous publications, both print and online, where used aircraft are advertised around the country. Once again, the prospective buyer should be prepared to do significant travel at his own expense before any purchase will be complete. Before buying a used plane, the purchaser should thoroughly educated himself on the specific model being purchased. It is a very good idea to locate and speak with other owners of the desired type to gain a broader perspective.