often receive email asking for advice on avionics upgrades as they
relate to the value of a plane, so we thought we'd address the issue
More often that you think, an owner will install a $10,000 GPS
in his Wombat WingFury, and assume it adds $10,000 to the value.
This is definitely NOT the case, as you'll see.
The value that any one avionics item adds
to a plane is dependent on a number of factors, including:
|1. The added utility it provides to the overall aircraft
|2. The age of the aircraft.
|3. The presence of other, similar avionics.
|4. The cost of an identical, but used/yellow tagged item.
1. Added utility. If the aircraft
was previously lacking any IFR approach capability, adding an approach
certified GPS certainly increases the utility of the aircraft dramatically.
On the other hand, if it was previously equipped with an RNAV, LORAN,
dual glideslopes, moving map and radar altimeter, the GPS does not
make a huge contribution to the overall utility, and will add slightly
less value to the plane.
2. The age of the aircraft is an
often overlooked, but significant factor. Adding our $10K GPS to
a 1964 Cherokee 140 is (economically) foolish- (it's like building
a $400K house in a $100K neighborhood.) It is NOT going to add as
much overall value to the plane as if it were installed in a 1993
3. The presence of other, similar units
also has an effect on the added value, the classic example here
being a glideslope. While the first G/S adds much utility, the second
is basically just a back up. While the installed cost is virtually
identical, the second adds less value. (OK, it's 200 & 1/2,
with a crosswind. How much are you willing to pay for the FIRST
glideslope? and the second?).
4. Cost/Value. There is a simple,
but often forgotten maxim: As soon as you
install a NEW Nav/com, GPS, DME, etc. in your panel, you now own
a USED Nav/com, GPS, DME, etc.. (It's just like driving that
new car off the lot!) While your new one has two distinct advantages
over the yellow-tagged item (Age and warranties), it's value is
now closer to the used one than new cost.
Several avionics items fall into a different category: Transponders
and ELT's. Like mags or vacuum pumps, they are viewed as
required equipment that needs replacing when they break. The only
thing a potential buyer usually asks about a transponder is "Does
it work?". No one really cares about
the age, the model, or the cost, and in many years of selling
aircraft we never met a buyer who would pay $1 more for a plane
with a new transponder. (Of course, they'd pay less for a plane
with one that was broken!)
Avionics packages are an important and
valuable part of any aircraft value, but the premium does NOT reflect
the cost of new units. More realistically, it reflects the
average additional premium a buyer is willing to pay for these items
previously installed in this year and model aircraft.
Your best bet is to buy the plane with
the avionics you like, then do the engine, paint and/or interior
if necessary- at least you'll see a much higher return on your investment!