Most novice bizjet buyers are unaware of the importance of a bizjet pre-purchase inspection (PPI). Now that the frenetic covid-induced approach to buying aircraft has subsided (sight unseen…no inspections…no test flights…no kidding !), a more measured and traditional acquisition process has again emerged.

The selected bizjet pre-purchase inspection (PPI) facility will perform a records review. The review will highlight any deficiencies in both the physical and digital records. This review will also reveal systems and component anomalies and it will usually be continuous throughout at least the early stages of the physical inspection of the aircraft.

Independent Inspector

That said; before the PPI facility is presented with the records, it is highly recommended that an independent (type certified) inspector be retained (by the purchaser). The inspector will perform what might be called a “forensic” examination of the records, both physical and digital. This exercise is more to do with what isn’t in the records rather than simply confirming existing documentation.
A snapshot of a Gulfstream G650ER Computerized Maintenance Program Status Report

Any relevant findings from the forensic examination of the records should be provided to the inspection facility during the aircraft “induction”. This is usually a boardroom meeting at the bizjet pre-purchase inspection (PPI) facility with all prospective stakeholders present. Any decision to share these findings with seller’s team is something that may be influenced by the conduct / attitude of the seller’s team…sometimes these early stage negotiations/ disclosures can be a little “tense”.

Gulfstream Aerospace Bizjet Pre-purchase Inspection

The Gulfstream Aerospace version of a bizjet pre-purchase inspection is known as an Aircraft Records and Condition Survey (ARCS). This “re-defining” of the terminology no doubt came about because at some point in a contentious PPI some lawyer (purchaser or seller related) decided that the “inspection” had not been properly executed. Alternatively, the PPI is not an FAA/EASA recognized inspection embodied in the mandatory inspection cycle for the make / model of aircraft. The term PPi is still used colloquially by “us industry types”.

The Gulfstream ARCS can be requested at various levels of invasive inspection, from Lite to Basic to Standard and finally, Premium… being the most thorough level of inspection.

These (below) are indicative inspection costs for Gulfstream aircraft. However, Aviatrade has never seen an inspection where the cost of which was inside these guidelines.

Additional Inspections

The inspector’s initial forensic records review may also reveal trend-monitoring abnormalities in the aircraft systems or outfitted equipment. Something such as recurring discrepancy that, while not strictly safety-related, could indicate an incipient failure.  In this scenario, the inspector may request inspections over and above the inspection facility’s checklist (ARCS) items. If the request is supported by technical findings or fault tracing, then the seller should have no problem agreeing to any additional inspections.

These additional inspections are usually related to corrosion inspections of known corrosion-prone areas of the fuselage. In the case of some Gulfstream models (G450/G550), some of these inspections focus on the fuselage area below the emergency windows.

The bizjet pre-purchase inspection (PPI) facility will complete the inspection checklist and record all airworthiness discrepancies. Hoowever, the purchaser should insist that the independent inspector is on site for most, if not all, of the inspection and rectification process. This ensures an independent set of eyes is monitoring all of the inspection activity and confirming the findings.

Some findings by the facility inspection team will be designated “info only”. These generally apply to the cosmetic and other non-airworthiness related items. A purchaser can request that the inspection facility address these items during the inspection, at the purchaser’s cost.

Make Use of Remaining Bizjet Warranty

Later model aircraft (EG., Gulfstream G550 / G650 / G650ER / G500 / G600, Bombardier Global 6000 / 6500 / 5000 / 5500 / 7500, Falcon 6X 7X / 8X /) will possibly have remaining warranty. This warranty coverage can be used to address covered discrepancies, at the OEM’s cost. However, a seller should be prepared for some pushback from supervisory OEM inspectors if there is any question about the warranty coverage.

Both an aircraft seller and a purchaser should bear in mind that the OEM / MRO facilities are profit centers. These “profit centers” derive their income from the bizjet pre-purchase inspection (PPI) / ARCS inspection results (ie., replacement components, corrosion remediation, etc. ). As mentioned, the seller is responsible for rectification of airworthiness discrepancies and therefore the dedicated independent inspectors will earn their respective inspector fees when following the inspection results and reporting back to their clients.

Timeframe to Complete a Bizjet Pre-Purchase Inspection

The amount of time to complete these inspections has been stretched (post-covid) due to manpower (skilled mechanics) shortages and supply chain issues. If an aircraft requires a replacement part that must come from a third party vendor, then significant delays might be experienced. Some failures might be resolved by using “loaner parts”, if those loaner components are themselves available.

A typical Gulfstream  premium ARCS is estimated at 15 working days. The workflow is usually such that discrepancies which are identified and confirmed as airworthiness issues are corrected after approval from the seller and are “worked” in conjunction with the ongoing inspection. But again, this is in the ideal world.

The total downtime for an ARCS, including rectification should be around 21-28 days.

Happy hunting for your new chariot and Aviatrade is always available to provide guidance and constructive advice to potential Gulfstream purchasers…and sellers.

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