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Everything You Need To Know Before Buying a Private Jet

At Jet Linx, we understand how to buy private jets; we have served the unique needs of hundreds of aircraft owners and provided them with custom private aviation solutions. Our Acquisitions & Sales team acts as a trusted advisor to prospective buyers, offering aircraft that provide the best return on investment while meeting personal travel needs. We realize that your situation is unique, and we work to find a custom solution when you’re trying to buy a private jet. 

Beyond the upfront cost of buying a private jet, there are many other considerations to make, such as how the asset will be managed and how owners might handle the financial and tax ramifications of ownership.

If you want to buy a private jet, our Acquisitions & Sales team will work with you through the acquisition process and your private jet mission profile. At Jet Linx, we provide a clear picture of aircraft ownership by explaining the costs involved, as well as strategies to offset those expenses.

Table of Contents:

 

When Should You Consider Buying a Private Jet?

What Steps Should You Take Before Buying a Private Jet?

What Questions Should You Ask Before Making an Offer?

How Much Does a Private Jet Cost to Buy and Operate?

How Does Jet Linx Help Clients Buy a Private Jet?

Frequently Asked Questions About Purchasing a Private Jet

When Should You Consider Buying a Private Jet?

 

Aircraft ownership works well for a small, defined group of buyers. However, no matter your situation, our team will find the proper aviation solution for you. Jet Linx offers an array of alternate private aviation solutions, from Joint Ownership to our industry-best Jet Card membership program. 

There used to be a fairly standard hierarchy when it came to private aviation solutions. Anyone flying under 25 hours per year should use on-demand charter; anyone flying 25-50 hours per year should use a Jet Card; anyone flying between 50 and 400 hours per year should consider fractional ownership or whole aircraft ownership. In recent years, those lines have blurred as new products, like the Jet Linx Joint Ownership program, have come onto the market that cater to more specific private aviation users. 

For some private aviation users it can make sense to utilize a Jet Card while flying upwards of 50 hours per year, but for other users, it may make sense to purchase a private jet with the same amount of annual flight hours. Aside from lifestyle and financial capacity, there are a range of factors to consider. Let’s begin with the benefits of whole aircraft ownership.

 

The Benefits of Buying a Private Jet

 

  • Comfort and convenience: There’s a distinctly different experience of flying privately when you own the aircraft. When you own a private jet, it becomes an extension of your home. Traveling becomes unspeakably smoother and more comfortable.
  • Consistency of Experience: When you know the names of your crew and can depend on them when your schedule demands, the payoff is priceless. Being able to fly with the same trusted pilots offers an experience not found in any other type of private aviation program. 
  • Customization: If you want to paint your jet gold, you have the freedom to do so. If you want to expand the galley or reconfigure the cabin, the interior is yours to make a statement. Want to bring your pets on board? The sky’s the limit when you buy a private jet. 
  • Revenue Generation: When you buy a private jet you can offset the cost of ownership by selling flight hours to Jet Card programs or charter operators. Aircraft owners that choose Jet Linx for aircraft management benefit from a built-in source of revenue in our national Jet Card program. This guaranteed source of revenue helps to offset your cost of ownership, and the wholesale charter market can be used for further revenue generation when necessary. 

Barriers to Buying a Private Jet

 

  • Cost of Investment and Operation: Depending on whether an aircraft is new or used, private jets can range in price from $3 million to $90 million. A pre-owned Embraer Phenom 300 (a popular Light Jet) would cost somewhere between $5 million and $7 million to purchase. However, the purchase price does not include the cost of ownership per year, which can hover around $1.5 million (depreciation included). Variable costs depend on the number of hours operated and miles traveled, but a typical Phenom 300 owner could anticipate $800,000 in variable costs when flying 400 or more hours per year. Fuel, maintenance, crew expenses, catering, parts, and landing/parking fees contribute to variable costs.
  • Hiring and Managing Flight Staff, Plus Other Fixed Costs: The cost of a private jet also includes pilot salaries ($100,000 or more per pilot plus benefits), insurance ($30,000 or more), the cost of renting a hangar ($30,000), as well as a variety of other fixed costs such as refurbishing, recurrent pilot training, computer maintenance, avionics maintenance and navigation chart service.
  • Managing Flight Schedule and Revenue Generation: Each aircraft owner’s needs are different, but there’s a delicate balance in releasing a plane for revenue generation and retaining it for personal use. Syncing the schedules of owners, pilots and passengers can be challenging if not managed professionally. Scheduling flights and availability offers the chance to reduce costs when managed by a dedicated team of professionals.

What Steps Should You Take Before Buying a Private Jet?

 

Choose a Trusted Aircraft Acquisitions Expert

Similar to purchasing a home, it pays to work with experts when buying a private jet. Private aviation advisors offer expert knowledge in identifying the right aircraft for your needs; they can explain tax ramifications, contracts, and technical subjects related to acquiring a private aircraft. The right partner should give you confidence that you are making the right choice. 

Determine Your Budget

When determining your budget, it is important to consider the multiple expenses that come with aircraft ownership along with the upfront cost to purchase. An expert aviation advisor can help determine what aircraft will work favorably within your budget and plan for offsetting the costs of aircraft ownership.

New vs Pre-owned Private Jets

Deciding between new and pre-owned aircraft is up to the buyer. While the cost of a new private jet is higher up front, warranties that come with them can help reduce the cost of maintenance in the short term. Purchasing a new jet also comes with the latest technologies, conveniences and comforts – preferences that the buyer must decide whether to invest in. 

Many pre-owned aircraft offer the same capability as new aircraft, but with a lower upfront cost and the promise of slower depreciation. It is important to work with the right partner to identify and inspect used private jets, but the immediate savings that come from a pre-owned jet can be significant. The term ‘pre-owned’ does not always describe a 10-year-old private jet with thousands of hours flown. Some pre-owned aircraft are barely a year old with only a few dozen flight hours under their wings. 

Aircraft Matching Assessment

Narrow down the search to a list of aircraft makes and models that fit your needs by consulting with an advisor about your typical mission profile and your own preferences for travel. An advisor should be able to provide a detailed list of the features and benefits of every category of private jet as well as their typical operating costs. A trustworthy partner will seek to find you an aircraft suited to your unique needs. 

What Questions Should You Ask Before Making an Offer?

 

Once you have identified the proper aircraft make and model for your needs, you will want to work with a private jet acquisition advisor to make a compelling offer to receive the most favorable terms of purchase. However, no matter how much you trust an advisor, it’s beneficial to ask some simple questions before buying a private jet.

 

Ask about the serial number

  • A surprising number of aircraft aren’t the same make and model as they appear to be. This information is all reflected in the data plate, but it’s also critical information a buyer should know before purchasing. The only way to find this information is if the seller can provide you with it – which they should always be willing to. 
  • The registration number (sometimes called the ‘N’ number or the tail number) also provides valuable information about an aircraft and its title. This number can sometimes be displayed incorrectly on sales sheets. 

Why is the aircraft for sale?

  • Although there are numerous reasons to sell a private jet, you don’t want to inherit someone else’s problem. Your advisor should be able to give you information on the history of the aircraft, including maintenance, usage and how the aircraft was managed and by whom. 

Ask for maintenance and service records

  • A damaged aircraft can be repaired, but you need to know what kind of damage occurred and who fixed it, among other details. Perhaps more important for buying a private jet is the maintenance record. Knowing that the plane has been properly maintained provides peace of mind for such a large investment. 
  • Along the same lines, verify the total time on the airframe, total time on the engines, and the amount of time passed since a major overhaul. If any major overhaul to the aircraft has occurred, you need to know the details surrounding what was done. Your advisor should provide this information to you and determine how it might affect a purchase.
  • Your advisor should also ask the seller for a complete listing of avionics by make and model number, and when they were installed. 
  • Make sure to gather a complete listing of all additional installed equipment, including strobes, engine monitors, oxygen, special performance-enhancing kits, articulating seats, or anything else that may affect the jet’s performance or safety.

Find out when the most recent annual inspection occurred, who performed the inspection, and what was found in the inspection. 

  • Your acquisitions advisor should be able to inspect the aircraft, but it is important to know when the most recent inspection occurred and the pedigree of the company who performed the inspection.

How was the aircraft stored?

  • You need to know in what kind of conditions the aircraft was stored, as well as where it has been based previously. 

Are the maintenance records complete from the manufacture date?

  • Missing logs are a red flag. The issue can often be successfully navigated, but it opens up many additional questions to be asked and information to be further scrutinized.

How Much Does a Private Jet Cost to Buy and Operate?

 

Purchase Price

The purchase price of an aircraft depends on the aircraft make and model, range, capacity, and age – but equally as important is the skill of your advisor to craft an agreement with the best possible terms. Broadly speaking, private jets can sell for anywhere from $300,000 to $90 million. The most important thing to remember about purchase price is that it is only one of many costs related to aircraft ownership.

Aircraft Customization

The beauty of owning a jet comes with the ability to customize it just as you see fit. However, a new coat of paint can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it may or may not add value upon sale of the aircraft. Before customizing a private jet, it is wise to consult with an expert to see what kind of changes would be beneficial in the long term. 

Maintenance and Operating Costs

After purchase, the ongoing expenses of managing the aircraft will be one of the primary considerations when choosing the right aircraft to purchase. As a rule of thumb, aircraft owners can expect to pay $500,000 to $1 million annually for maintenance and operating costs. Newer private jets generally cost less to maintain early in their lifetime, but cost much more upfront. 

Fuel Costs

Fuel accounts for one of the largest costs of owning a private jet, so prospective buyers may want to take a close look at fuel efficiency when searching for an aircraft. For example, a Heavy Jet with a fuel capacity of 50,000 pounds would cost between $400,000 and $900,000 annually to fuel (depending on usage). However, Jet Linx aircraft management clients receive bulk discounts due to our large national fleet, saving up to 15% on fuel annually.

Flight Crew and Training

The cost of crew and training varies based on flying hours, but personal management of pilots and support crew is an additional cost that also requires a professional crewing team, accountants, and human resources. Crew salaries can range from $60,000 to $150,000 per pilot (plus benefits), and recurrent training can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 annually. Managing crew and maintaining a high standard of safety is an area where owners should not cut corners. Flying with a highly skilled crew offers an immeasurably better experience for owners and for revenue-generating passengers. 

Hangar Fees

Hangar space is essential for protecting and maintaining a private jet.  Depending on the location, renting private hangar space will be an additional monthly cost of private jet ownership. That cost can fall between $25,000 and $80,000 annually. 

Aircraft Management & Revenue Generation

There is a major benefit to hiring aircraft management companies like Jet Linx to help acquire, because we have the experience managing over 100 different types and categories of private jets and can leverage our scale to reduce nearly every cost that a private jet buyer will face – including all maintenance, fuel, and hangar fees. In total, Jet Linx aircraft owners can expect to save a minimum of 15% on these costs, saving thousands of dollars annually. 

Working with a management company to buy a private jet also allows you to establish a clear picture of what the maintenance and operation costs will look like. You’ll gain an advantage from a pre-purchase inspection from the team responsible for the wellbeing of your newly purchased Jet. Working with Jet Linx Acquisitions and Sales teams means that a private jet owner can rely on one trusted partner for the purchase, operation, maintenance, and sale of their aircraft. 

Jet Linx offers a built-in revenue stream with our Jet Card program. All aircraft owners’ planes will be released for use in the Jet Card program, where revenue hours will be used to offset the costs of ownership. On top of our Jet Card program, our fleet can also be released to the wholesale charter market for added revenue. Our industry-leading safety standards make our private jets highly sought-after in the charter market. Our aircraft owners enjoy two separate revenue streams, ensuring that their costs of ownership are reduced. 

How Does Jet Linx Help Clients Buy a Private Jet?

 

With the Complete Aircraft Transaction Program, Jet Linx not only assists clients in buying a private jet, but also provides additional value through the management of those assets and their eventual sale. This wraparound service provides complete satisfaction for the entire length of aircraft ownership. 

 

Here’s a step-by-step look at our private jet purchase process in CAT program:

  • Perform an owner and aircraft matching assessment to ensure a proper fit, per the client’s specific wants and needs;
  • Arrange a visual inspection of the aircraft and demonstration flights for client and Jet Linx (as applicable);
  • Source a trusted aircraft broker to locate potential aircraft;
  • Assist client with the aircraft price evaluations, negotiations and offers;
  • Help client craft an attractive aircraft purchase agreement;
  • Perform an initial aircraft records review to ensure proper title and service have been performed;
  • Assist with selecting the pre-purchase inspection facility by using a trusted industry vendor;
  • Provide model-specific guidance and recommendations to the maintenance facility to conduct its standard pre-purchase inspection;
  • Provide input and guidance on technical issues discovered during the pre-purchase inspection;
  • Review the pre-purchase inspection findings and provide recommendations on how the client may want to proceed;
  • Upon completion of the pre- purchase inspection, provide a forecast of maintenance required/due items for the next 24-month period;
  • Coordinate the details of the aircraft purchase closing.

Frequently Asked Questions About Purchasing a Private Jet

 

Jet Linx seeks to educate prospective aircraft owners. If you have questions, we have answers.

 

Is It Better to Buy a New or Pre-owned Private Jet?

Both new and pre-owned private jets offer positives and negatives when looking to purchase – we would not rate one type as superior to the other. Consider the following three elements: the initial purchase price, the operating costs (including offsetting charter revenue), and the devaluation of the asset over time. New airplanes have a higher purchase price but lower operating costs due to warranties. In general, major maintenance and inspection costs are relegated further into the future, so those looking for pre-owned aircraft should consider this when financing. Newer aircraft can be more efficient (climb faster, burn less fuel, require less maintenance) than used ones. However, older aircraft can always be modified, for a cost. 

 

Are Newer Private Jets Safer?

No matter the age of a private jet, they all offer the same level of safety. While aircraft may have different equipment and offer different levels of performance capabilities, there is not a difference in the level of safety between new and used private jets. 

The level of safety offered comes from the safety standards followed by pilots, crew and operators. Jet Linx leads the industry when it comes to safety; we guarantee the highest standard of safety in the industry. 

 

What if I Buy a Used Aircraft and Update It Instead of Buying a New Private Jet?

Upgrades to equipment, paint, and interior are always possible, but sometimes the retrofit cost plus the downtime makes this process undesirable. When you consider residual value, upgrading an older model may not make economic sense, but this is something you would want to consult with one of our experts. This is a great example of when you should consult with Aircraft Acquisitions & Sales experts at Jet Linx.

 

What about Fractional Ownership?

You can always consider a fractional share in a private jet, but beware of the disadvantages. Fractional shares mean lower residual value, limited aircraft choices, fewer financing options, and the fact you only own part of an airplane. You are restricted in what you do with that asset, as it has to remain part of the fractional operators program. Transferring a ¼ share to another operator doesn’t really work. 

Jet Linx now offers a Joint Aircraft Ownership program, allowing you and a suitable partner to split ownership of a jet. This is the lowest net cost option to buy a private jet, and it is also the closest you can come to a true sole ownership experience. 

 

Where Can I Buy a Private Jet?

There are many aircraft listing sites or the Jet Linx aircraft marketplace that show what is available on the market, but it is always best to establish a relationship with a trusted broker who can provide guidance and expertise during the buying process. Regardless of what your decision is during the purchasing process, make sure you are working with experienced professionals, such as our own Sale & Acquisition experts.

 

We Have Helped Hundreds of Aircraft Owners Purchase, Operate, Maintain and Sell their aircraft. Let us help you.