Is It a Good Time to Buy a Private Aircraft?

The relative unsatisfactory nature of airline service remains a durable and growing incentive for individuals and businesses to make the shift from scheduled airline service to on-demand private air travel. The inconvenience of scheduled airline service available only at “hub and spoke” airports, versus the exquisite convenience of private air travel available at your nearest airport, generates powerful appeal. And for the business traveler, the efficiency, productivity and time and energy saved through private air travel are an irrebuttable economic and anti-fatigue driver of the decision.

Recently, wide-spread unhappiness with the airline experience became the subject of a federal court lawsuit by the advocacy group, Flyers Rights Education Fund, which petitioned the FAA to reassess its rulemaking regarding the size and spacing of airliner seats for considerations of safety, as well as relative passenger comfort. The organization presented evidence that airliner seats have become smaller and closer together over the preceding two decades. The specific objections included the fact that the distance between seats has decreased from an average of 35 inches to 31 inches. In some airline aircraft, that distance has been reduced to 28 inches. Other evidence presented by the petitioners revealed that the average seat width has been reduced from 18.5 inches to 17 inches during the same period.

Predictably, the FAA was not receptive to the consumer group’s complaints, and dismissed their petition, so the group appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for review. The Court concluded that the FAA’s response was not based upon “reasoned decision-making grounded in actual evidence.” As a result, the Court ruled in favor of Flyers Rights, stating that “As a matter of basic physics, at some point seat and passenger dimensions would become so squeezed as to impede the ability of passengers to extricate themselves from their seats and get over to an aisle. The question is not whether seat dimensions matter, but when.”

As helpful as that decision is in working toward more hospitable airline seating conditions, none of the legitimate points made in the lawsuit address the airline scheduling problems, late cancellation of flights, and sometimes impossibly short time intervals between connections and long distances between gates.

The very good news in the pre-owned private aircraft market is that it has remained largely a buyer’s market throughout 2017, which is good news for businesses and individuals who are looking to leave behind the multitude of inconveniences which come with scheduled airline service, in favor of acquiring their own private lift.

For the third quarter of 2017, Vref reports in its “Market Leader” that the Turboprop market has seen an up-tic in purchase and sale activity with certain models holding strong values. It also reports that the light jet market segment (cabin for 4 to 6 with 1,200 to 1,700 nm range) is beginning to respond to “buyer friendly” values. The mid-size and super-mid size jet market segment values (cabin for 8 to 9 with 2,500 to 3,000 nm range) seem to have leveled off, signifying a good time for buyers who need this scale of lift to act soon before inventory restrictions begin to cause prices to rise. The large cabin jet market segment values (cabin for 12 or more with 4,000 to 6,000 nm range) continue to decline, but at a rate that is much less than in recent years. For the client whose travel mission requires this capability, this market segment presents some unprecedented values not seen in years.

According to a forecast published in Aviation International News on October 10, 2017, the U.S. registered private jet fleet is expected to grow by 21 percent by the end of 2026. And the durability of private jets as an increasingly viable alternative means of transportation is reflected by the fact that more than 90 percent of those produced 20 to 30 years ago are still in service.

If you are considering purchasing a private aircraft, call the Kalled Law Offices to guide you through your transaction planning, aircraft search and aircraft acquisition today!

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