Dummy’s guide to buying a business jet

By Neelam Mathews
Dummy’s guide to buying a business jet
PRIVATE BUSINESS | Purchasing a jet is not like buying a Mercedes or BMW. Hire an aircraft management company or a consultant to help you choose the right one

The Luxe Café brings you a list of things you should consider before buying a business jet

For those subscribing to the adage time is money, owning a private jet is a necessity and not a luxury. It not only means more comfort but also increases productivity. The slowdown and resultant stalling of investments had hit sale of private jets. But now with the economy gaining steam the demand for private business jets is expected to soar again.

The roll call of the elite club of those with their own jets reads like India Inc’s who’s who — Ambanis, Tatas, Ruias, and Jindals to name a few. But before your ambitions take wings, The Luxe Café would advise you to run a thorough check to avoid getting short changed.

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To start with ask yourself whether you are one of the frequent flier who deserves to own a jet. Besides the purchasing cost, a private plane has hidden costs such as maintenance, salaries and parking.

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First up on the list are your requirements. To start with ask yourself whether you are one of the frequent flier who deserves to own a jet. Besides the purchasing cost, a private plane has hidden costs such as maintenance, salaries and parking. The global ballpark figure used to justify ownership of a jet is 350-400 hours of flight time per year.  Indians are more royal and prefer the convenience of owning a jet though they may be spending less time in the air than the above benchmark.

With the economy gaining steam, the demand for private business jets is expected to soar again

With the economy gaining steam, the demand for private business jets is expected to soar again

Besides the utility factor, also check out the availability of airstrips as well as the parking slots in the airports you wish to fly to and fro.

Other variables which will weigh on in your decision making include: the distances and the number of hours you expect to fly in a month and how deep are your pockets. The choice between buying an old and a new aircraft will finally depending on your finances. Remember aircraft are not considered an asset in India as per RBI regulations, which makes aircraft financing more difficult.

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Once you have decided to buy a jet, the next step is to find an experienced independent expert.

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Once you have decided to buy a jet, the next step is to find the right match. You should talk to an experienced independent expert. Remember a wrong advice can be disastrous. For example, a pilot would not be the right advisor as he would not have flown all the available options and could have his own agenda. Also, don’t let glossy advertisements influence your decision. Use the ads to make an informed choice. The expert will be with you for at least 3 months and cost anything upwards of Rs 4.5 lakh. The next step would be to shop around.

“Once your requirements are worked out, and you understand the capability of the aircraft and performance levels, get in touch with 2-3 sales representatives of the models and see where you get the best price that should include clearance of documents, supply of pilots, maintenance contracts amongst others,” advises Group Captain Bali, Secretary of the Business Aviation Operators Association.
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Hire an aircraft management company or a consultant. They will not only coordinate the purchase but also keep your plane ship shape afterwards, of course for a fee.

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Purchasing a jet is not like buying a Mercedes or BMW, where you can walk into a showroom and pick the one you like. In any case, you should not do it yourself. Hire an aircraft management company or a consultant. They will not only coordinate the purchase but also keep your plane ship shape afterwards, of course for a fee.

Arrow Aircraft, for instance, is a sales representative of Beechcraft and Gulfstream. The OEM, Embraer is known for helping clients buy and maintain Embraer jets including the smaller Phenoms. Then there are companies such as K-Air and Empire Aviation.

Make sure the jet you are buying meets the latest DGCA norms. Also, it would be a good idea to remember that financiers have their own internal rating based on residual value after certain years. Check with an expert to find the jet’s resale value.

Remember to specify the cabin interiors and layout. Photo by Taj Air

Remember to specify the cabin interiors and layout. Photo by Taj Air

Once you have made your choice, remember to specify cabin interiors and layout. For example, you can choose to have the galley in front or aft; the size of television screens, quality of leather on chairs, internet access, headphones, and bath – but all these will come at a price.

If you are a globetrotter, it is essential to check on the support network to take care of your maintenance and clearance issues.