Considerations for Buying an Aircraft

December 16, 2022

Should I Buy a Private Jet for Flight Training?

Considerations for Industry Newcomers Who Seek to Own a Private Jet

It’s tempting to search private jets for sale or piston aircraft for sale in preparation for flight training. When you own an aircraft, you don’t have to compete with others like you to rent a plane at a fixed-based operator (FBO).

But is it a smart idea to buy a small aircraft before you’re licensed to fly? And can you legally do it?

Escape Limited Reservation Time by Buying a Private Jet or Piston Aircraft
FBOs can limit your reservation time, which means your lesson with your certified flight instructor (CFI) could be cut shorter than you’d like, especially as you approach licensure.

The catch here, though, is that there are additional hoops you’ll need to jump through. For example, some flight schools don’t allow their CFIs to teach in an aircraft their student owns, likely for insurance reasons or loss of revenue for the FBO.

Is Owning a Private Jet or Piston Aircraft Cheaper Than Renting?
Purchasing your own piston aircraft is a costly endeavor - one that is likely far more expensive than paying the FBO rental fee.

In fact, a 1970s piston aircraft can run you well over half-a-million dollars, not to mention the cost of the rest of the bills associated with aircraft ownership: maintenance, insurance, taxes, and hangar fees, just to name a few. Multiply that purchase price by two or three to get into an older, small private jet for sale. And as your aircraft gets larger, so, too, do your costs, particularly fuel.

Furthermore, your own insurance company can require you to fly with a CFI with a certain number of hours in the model you purchase - and your instructor may not qualify. There are no Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) regarding the flight hours a CFI must have, however.

Can a Non-Pilot Purchase an Aircraft for Sale?
Yes, an unlicensed person can buy an aircraft, per the FARs. However, many non-pilots or those without much experience in the private aviation industry don’t understand just how carefully you must consider your purchase - and the steps to take to ensure the plane is sound and well maintained.

Amateurs may also be unfamiliar with the type of aircraft they’re purchasing and the comforts the cockpit offers - or, more likely, doesn’t.

Bear in mind, too, that just because you own a private jet or other small aircraft, you still cannot fly it solo or carry passengers, as regulated on your student pilot certificate. This includes carrying your spouse or other family members on a flight.

Will Your CFI Want to Teach in Your Aircraft?
Perhaps the biggest wrench in your plan is whether your CFI will be willing to provide instruction in your aircraft. Doing so, particularly if the make and model are unfamiliar, requires preparation on your CFI’s part.

They will likely want to review the pilot’s operating handbook and learn more about the systems and handling before they instruct in it - including flying it. If you join them in the cockpit or in a passenger seat for this, you cannot count it toward your training time.

What’s the Verdict?
For most beginners to flying, professionals would not recommend you purchase an aircraft for sale for use during training. However, for those with robust finances who have partnered with a private aviation industry expert to guide their purchase, it is not always unwise.

If you’ve made up your mind and want to buy a private jet, piston aircraft, or other small plane, follow these tips to ensure the best possible outcome:

  1. Work with an International Aircraft Dealers Association (IADA) Accredited Aircraft Dealer or Broker. These are the most ethical in the industry, as they’ve promised to abide by a strict code and come highly recommended by their peers.

  2. Ensure any aircraft for sale that you consider has been properly maintained and inspected prior to purchase. Review logbooks to verify the seller’s claims.

  3. Take your time. There is no need to rush your purchase, particularly as inventory has increased in recent months. Focus on buying an aircraft you will actually enjoy owning and flying, not one that will “get the job done” while you earn your certification.

  4. Set a strict budget, taking into account purchase price and other costs and fees associated with owning an aircraft. Keep in mind that inflation affects private aviation services and equipment, and as a jet ages, maintenance costs can increase. Plan for today as well as the future.

Find Everything You Need on
To locate an IADA Accredited Aircraft Dealer and to find aircraft for sale, visit Happy flying!