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UPFRONT NOTES


Unlike the single-engine airplane world, we don’t hear of many pre-buy horror stories in the helicopter world. But they do exist. There are several reasons for this: a different demographic in who buys a helicopter; the sheer difference in numbers of airplanes versus helicopters; and, the inherent use of more specialized or experienced personnel for the helicopter pre-buy. Also, I structured the article to the actual pre-buy. We will assume you, the prospective buyer, have done your due diligence and selected a specific model aircraft to suit your needs and desires. But whether it’s an Airbus, Bell, Enstrom, Robinson or Sikorsky, the tips below should keep you on the straight and narrow.


GETTING OUR TERMS STRAIGHT


We should start with some basic terminology. Being a bit old school, I still use the term “pre-buy inspection.” Some people smarter than me point out that it is better to use the label “pre-purchase evaluation.” Seems the use of “inspection” could have a legal connotation if something goes awry during or after the pre-buy.


While a poorly executed pre-buy can lead to issues — some serious — in my opinion it has nothing to do with nomenclature. Rather, it’s more the lack of a coordinated plan, or as in some cases, simply not following the rules of common sense.


Speaking of rules, there is no FAA requirement or mandated guidance when it comes to performing a pre- buy or pre-purchase evaluation. None. A pre-buy lies somewhere between a turnaround check and a complete aircraft teardown.


So even though a pre-buy is an extremely important part of buying a helicopter, it falls to the prospective buyer — along with their mechanic and the seller — to determine the goals of the pre-buy.


74 Jan/Feb 2018


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