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How to perform an aircraft appraisal?

Aircraft appraisal


The first thing to take into consideration when running an aircraft appraisal is the scope of work. Some of the methodologies and assumptions applied when running a business jet appraisal may not apply for the appraisal of a military jet.

The focus of this article is a business jet in airworthy condition.


The most common aircraft appraisal methodologies are:

  • Market approach

  • Income approach

  • Cost approach

The best methodology for the appraisal of a business jet appraisal that is currently in operation is the market approach based on the power of the supply and demand. This approach focuses on comparing the subject aircraft to reasonably similar aircraft in the market.

Getting Started with a Market Approach

Normally, start with a basic/average configuration (you can find this info in for the make and model of the subject aircraft you are evaluating. Then, compare it against the basic configuration aircraft. If it has better indicators than the basic configuration aircraft, you will add value. If it is the opposite, subtract value. For example, if the aircraft has less airframe time, engine time and cycles than the basic configuration aircraft, you will add extra value to the subject aircraft.


  • Make, Model and Year

Under average conditions and with all else similar, a 2015 business jet will cost more than a 2010 of the same make and model. Additionally, some make and models may have flight restrictions that could affect aircraft values. Therefore, something to take into consideration are the regulations that may apply to some specific models, like noise abatements, avionics, etc.

  • Airframe time, engine time and APU (Auxiliary power unit)

There are different ways to measure the performance of aircraft: total flight hours, cycles and landings. Aircraft values with higher than average time, cycles and landings are worth less than an aircraft with metrics below average time, cycles and landings for the same type of aircraft. Also, all of these variables trigger maintenance procedures in the future that may increase or decrease the value of the subject aircraft.

An engine maintenance program is a popular and important way to maintain aircraft values. Having your business jet in an engine maintenance program will keep up the value of your aircraft better that the one who is not enrolled in one of these programs.

  • Avionics

Aircraft appraisal - Avionics

You may have different avionics depending on the aircraft that you are appraising. It is important to know the basic avionic configuration for each specific model and with that, increase or decrease the value depending on the comparison of avionics between the subject aircraft and the basic configuration aircraft.

Some of the avionics are more desirable than others and may add more value to the subject aircraft. For example, aircraft values will increase by having internet connection on board.

  • Exterior and interior

When we talk about the exterior we focus on the painting of the aircraft. The most common way to assign value is using a 1 to 10 scale where 1 means “none” paint and 10 means a "looks like new" paint. The same scale is used for the interior, 1 means that the aircraft has “none” interior or most of the interior has been removed and 10 means that the aircraft "looks and smells like new", seats show no use and rugs have no apparent wear.

  • Airworthiness directives

Make sure the airworthiness directives are compliant and up to date. If you cannot fly the aircraft because of an airworthiness directive you should consider the amount of money necessary to bring the aircraft to an airworthy condition

  • Aircraft log books

I would recommend you avoid buying aircraft with a log book that is not original and complete. There are two major reason for this; first, it will be harder to resell the aircraft in the future, and the second reason is that incomplete log book may hide an aircraft's structural damage that occurred in the past. Both of these things may lead to a reduced selling price in the future.

  • Geographical issues

Different geographical locations affect aircraft values as the aircraft may have exposure to climatic conditions that cause damage to the aircraft. You should pay attention to the following environments:

  1. Cold locations (Snow and ice may cause damage to the aircraft)

  2. Humidity and salty places (Corrosion may be an issue here)

  3. Desert locations (Sand on engines may cause problems in the future)​

  • International location

If you are planning on acquiring a business jet but one of the potential candidates that you want to acquire is currently located in a foreign country, make sure you pay attention to the log book because if they are not in English this could be a potential issue when you want to resell the aircraft. You may also check out the aircraft maintenance facility where the aircraft was enrolled for maintenance and inspections; maintenance work at unrecognized facilities may cost you additional money once you want to sell the aircraft.

  • Aircraft damage

The hardest part when you have to appraise an aircraft is aircraft damage. There isn’t a unique approach to deal with aircraft damage diminution, given some damage will be minimum but other situations may compromise the airworthiness directives of your aircraft and may cost over a million dollar in repairs. So, that means that you need to evaluate on a case by case basis. As a general rule, if you have two identical aircraft, the aircraft with damage will have a lower price.

You may want to run an accident and incident report from to make sure that the aircraft has no damage.


I hope this article was useful for you. It provided a brief idea of the main issues when running an aircraft appraisal and only represent the opinion of the writer. We will cover more of those issues described here in more detail in future blog articles.


Pablo Perez

Accredited Senior Appraiser, ASA (American Society of Appraisers)

Comply with USPAP (Uniform Standard of Professional Appraisal Practice)

Student pilot

9+ years Business Valuation - Transaction Advisory Services - Ernst & Young

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