Recently I helped a friend purchase a Cessna 340A similar to what I fly. He’s pleased with his purchase. In fact, when word got out, another local pilot who’s looking for a 340A approached me, and I’ve begun helping him, leading me to consider the process.
This airplane is an upgrade for both pilots, so there’s a learning curve. By “learning curve” here, I’m not talking about aircraft transition training, although that’s a consideration.
No, I’m talking about the knowledge needed to make informed choices in the market. For example, do you need air conditioning? You’ve never had it before, even here in the desert southwest, so perhaps you can get by without it in the new aircraft.
But, in a pressurized aircraft like the 340 series, the windows don’t open enough to keep you cool on a warm ramp, much less a hot one. So, unless you live and fly solely in a temperate or colder climate, you want air conditioning in your pressurized plane.
If you don’t have sufficient knowledge of the new breed you’re seeking, you probably should find out some assistance. Where? The first place to look is a type club. For our 340s, there’s the Twin Cessna Flyers, an owners’ club with some extremely helpful and knowledgeable owners and vast resources. Often, these type clubs have on-line forums where you can learn a lot.
Of course, a good broker can also help, but their objective is to sell airplanes and, well, time is money, so you might not get as much guidance as you could need. Clearly there are some superb brokers who will offer a lot of assistance, but remember that their allegiances could be divided.
Insurance might well require formal training on the new aircraft—if they’ll insure it at all. Consider at least systems training to better understand the aircraft as you begin your search.
Your best resource might be another owner. That other owner must be knowledgeable about the breed, understand the maintenance requirements, and have a similar model to what you want. Of course, having a lot of time for you is also a requirement as it’s rarely quick or easy to find your new airplane.
How have I proceeded with these two buyers? I avoid making a specific recommendation. I won’t say, “Buy that one.” But, I will go so far as to say, “That could be a good choice,” after a joint evaluation. I ask the prospective buyer to do the initial research, selecting aircraft that are good candidates. They then send me the listings and I go through the aircraft, commenting on anything that seems worthy. I might say, “Dated, haphazard panel,” or I might observe that none of the electronics provide ADS-B In.
I leave the detailed logbook analysis to the buyer, who hopefully engages his mechanic as needed. But, if questions arise, I’ll certainly try to answer.
Is this a business? It’s not. I’ve not charged for this assistance, although I suppose there could be a business in it. For now, though, I simply enjoy helping however I can. I’ve found that it’s loads of fun to go airplane shopping with someone else’s money. Besides, it helps me stay in touch and learn a lot, too.