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Buying an Airplane: Where Do You Start?

By Jim Gregory
Aviation journalist Jim Gregory writes for various aviation publications. His articles on aviation and business aircraft have been published in Professional Pilot Magazine, Twin & Turbine, CJ Magazine, Jetgala, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes.com. 
When you start your search for a business jet or turboprop aircraft, you have options. You can begin with Google. There are hundreds if not thousands of airplanes listed for sale on any number of websites.  
You can even find the owner on the FAA website and try to negotiate directly – although the owner probably already has a broker you’ll be dealing with. You could also begin to search the Internet for your own broker to help you get through the process.
Beware. There are over a thousand aircraft brokers worldwide. They generally do not need to adhere to any standards of ethical conduct. Unlike licensed like real estate brokers, aircraft brokers can operate outside the rules or without any rules. So, you don’t really know if the aircraft broker you’ve found online is proficient or even ethical. Similarly, there is no guarantee that a service or support provider will be experienced in financing aircraft or know the intricacies of international transactions, know how to assist in management or charter, etc.
In 1990, twelve highly respected aircraft brokers/dealers and aircraft service providers banded together to solve this problem, and the National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA) was born. 
Today, NARA has grown to almost 100 members. The organization is comprised of two major member segments: 1) seasoned aircraft brokers who do most of the heavy lifting in the acquisition and selling process by providing astute counsel. And 2) aviation service providers that offer expert guidance related to specific disciplines, such as appraisers, financiers, insurers, attorneys, aircraft managers and tax counselors, along with the pre-purchase inspectors and maintenance specialists.
If you check out the NARA website, you will immediately see there’s an important differentiator at work with NARA members. All NARA members agree to strictly adhere to the NARA Code of Ethics that guarantees they will conduct themselves honorably and represent the best interests of their clients. Every NARA member pledges to create and maintain a reputation for honesty, integrity and transparency and adhere to the highest ethical standards in their dealings.
To be accepted into the organization, they commit to continually improve the quality of their services, products, and operations in order to provide a superior level of service, knowledge and value to their clients. They commit to avoid exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts relating to an aircraft transaction while keeping with the “highest standards of business and professionalism.” Furthermore, they pledge to reveal their true ownership or interest in any aircraft they represent to the purchaser.
In addition, all NARA Broker/Dealers undergo an extensive certification process by their peers, according to current NARA Chairman Johnny Foster, President & CEO of Atlanta-based OGARAJETS. “To become a Certified Aircraft Broker or Dealer with NARA credentials, a candidate has to pass a rigorous application process that assures only the most respected and experienced aircraft brokers and dealers become NARA members,” Foster said.
NARA Brokers and Dealers also participate in a program of ongoing education to remain current on best practices and new developments in the aircraft industry and the global pre-owned market. Only then can the call themselves a NARA Certified Broker/Dealer.
Although the 41 NARA Certified Broker/Dealers represent less than five percent of the 1,000 aircraft brokers worldwide, they account for nearly half of the $9.5 billion in annual pre-owned aircraft transactions around the world. That may say something about their expertise and connections.
To help get you started, the NARA website lists hundreds of airplanes for sale by NARA brokers and dealers. The catalog is updated weekly, by model and manufacturer. There is also a portal that helps you find NARA Products and Services Members to help you finance, insure or maintain your aircraft.
For more information about NARA, its members, its code of ethics, and aircraft for sale, visit the NARA website at NARAaircraft.com.

Posted on: May 19, 2016

Written by: Devri Pitts