If you're an old hand at this (having bought & sold 4-5 planes),
you can skip this page. But if you're not, let's take a look at
a typical ad and see what it does and (more importantly) does not
The ad above would would probably catch your eye-
"Low time 1976 Arrow 200, only two owners since new! 2,122
TTAF, 492 SMOH, 10 STOP. King IFR, NEW paint and interior, all logs,
recent $11K annual."
Looks great! A nice low-time aircraft with complete logs, a low-time
engine, recent top overhaul and brand new paint. Read it again.
Does anything leap out at you yet?
First- if you're in the market for
an Arrow 200, you should know that it uses a 200 HP Lycoming IO-360
with a recommended TBO of 2,000 hours. Doing simple math quickly
shows that the original factory new engine
in this aircraft had to be overhauled at only 1,508 hours!
This is NOT a good sign, and may very well indicate a gear-up landing
492 hours ago. Notice also that the plane is being offered by a
dealer. While individuals often "mis-describe" their plane,
or leave important items out of their classifieds, dealers know
better (or should). The key missing phrase
here is "NDH"- No Damage History. Looking at this
ad, the damage question should be the very first one you ask!
Next question: With less than 500
hours on the engine, why did it need a top overhaul? AND, if the
overhaul shop's work was that shoddy, what might they have skimped
on or otherwise fouled up in the bottom end?
Now one of our favorite phrases, "King
IFR". While this may conjure up the image of a flashy
LED panel, complete with flip-flop nav/coms, ADF timers and RNAV,
it's most likely not the case here. The most common factory avionics
package for a '76 Arrow was a pair of mechanically tuned King nav/coms
and an old KR86 ADF. Again, a dealer knows enough to specify a KX-165
if there is one- if not, he'll use the old "King IFR"
phrase to get your attention. (Keep in mind that "King
IFR" can legally be a single nav/com- period!)
"Only two owners since new!"
So what? If the latter of these was the kind of person who likes
to delay or skimp on maintenance, this is a very BAD thing! You
should never allow the number of owners
influence your buying decision- it's simply not relevant.
In fact, a plane with a number of owners may be in BETTER mechanical
shape overall- especially if each owner had a different mechanic
with a different set of airworthiness priorities and pet peeves.
"Recent $11K annual."
Another phrase designed to impress, but does it? Spending that kind
of money to annual an Arrow indicates only one of three things:
either the current owner is picky and meticulous (possible), his
mechanic took him to the cleaners (also possible), or the aircraft
was a total disaster and needed an enormous amount of work just
to make it salable (most likely). Personally we'd be happier knowing
the annuals cost roughly the same every year for the last 5 years!
Even just this apparently simple ad raises LOTS of questions. We
hope you'll learn to ask the right ones! If you learned anything
from this page, you should also read our hard-luck series the Plights