The Importance of a Pre-purchase inspection on an Aircraft

The most important parts of a pre-purchase inspection on aircraft include:

  • Scheduling constraints
  • Test Flight / Visual Inspection
  • Log Book Research/ADs
  • Airworthy Items
  • Determine Health of the Engine or Engines
  • Corrosion Inspection
  • Acceptance Flight


The most important part of your aircraft purchase is the Pre-purchase Inspection, therefore, it is vitally important to find an unbiased third party to perform the inspection. Most aircraft dealers/brokers recommend using the maintenance facility you will use for future maintenance. Many times scheduling a pre-purchase inspection can be very difficult as it is very time consuming for the maintenance facility. Some maintenance facilities even refuse to do pre-purchase inspections. Therefore, it is vital that you or your broker have good communication with the maintenance facility to be sure the inspections you require are accomplished.

Avionics pre-purchase inspection

The Test Flight is necessary to verify the installed Avionics and determine their working condition.


Undoubtedly, the test flight is a crucial element in determining whether the installed avionics and systems work properly. As shown above, scheduling can be difficult due to the aircraft’s location and the buyer’s busy schedule, however, it is a very important part of the prebuy process. Negotiating a test flight and visual inspection by the purchaser or his representative before the cost of a pre-purchase inspection is usually the best plan in order to inspect discrepancies found during the process. Occasionally, the prospective buyer turns the aircraft down on cosmetics alone, so be prepared for anything.


Few owners realize how much value their aircraft log books contain. Erroneous, incomplete or vague log book entries can diminish the aircraft’s value substantially. These records must be analyzed by an experienced aircraft mechanic for correct component times, AD’s/SB’s, 337s, 8130s, etc. An experienced aircraft broker/dealer can determine what type of damage or repairs will affect the aircraft’s value.


Different mechanics have different views of what items to address in a pre-purchase inspection. Ultimately, the mechanic determines the airworthiness of the aircraft with a list of items acceptable to both parties, thereupon providing the buyer with a list of discrepancies which will need to be addressed. Of course, maintenance facilities that specialize in a particular aircraft make and model are more familiar with items indicative of potential problems relative to those models.

Visual and mechanical inspections of engine components by qualified mechanics are vital before purchasing an aircraft.


As I have noted, maintenance facilities more familiar with the particular make/model aircraft inspected will have guidelines for determining the health of an engine. Both piston and turboprop engines can be inspected internally with a borescope to determine the condition of the components and whether they will need maintenance in the near future. Most mechanics inspect piston engines for compressions, cracks, muffler wear, and oil leaks and contamination. They inspect turboprops with ground runs, leak checks, visual and borescope inspections, fuel and oil filters. Correspondingly, oil samples on both engines can show problems with internal wear.

Many of the aircraft produced today contain internal corrosion proofing.


The “C” word is just as bad for aircraft as it is for humans. Overall, it occurs in most aircraft, however, it can only be slowed down, not cured. Internal corrosion of the aircraft and components occurs markedly faster in saltwater environments as opposed to dry country areas. Hence, it is important as a part of the Pre-purchase process to determine in what areas the aircraft has been in operation to foresee potential problems prior to inspection. Most mechanics are familiar with the areas of concern and inspect those critical areas first before delving deeper into other minor inspections.


Once the mechanic provides a discrepancy list and addresses the repairs, the buyer will need to take a follow up flight to determine whether the systems operate satisfactory before closing. If the buyer decides to take a price reduction, then they become responsible for the repairs.

In summary, the Pre-purchase Inspection becomes the most important part of the aircraft selection process. Many times buyers become overwhelmed or miss a minor, but important part of the process. To be sure that the aircraft you are selecting is worth the purchase price and is in good condition, you may want to consider hiring a professional to help you with the process.

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Increasing Aircraft Values may leave your Aircraft Underinsured

Aircraft values have increased steadily since 2019. It has been an exciting time for many aircraft owners! Buyers are paying drastically higher prices for used aircraft.

Cessna 182 Values

As the used aircraft market continues to consolidate, buyers have remained active through the first two quarters of 2023. Since 2019 the average piston aircraft value has increased over 34%. Turboprop and business jets are up over 30%. The third quarter saw some models decrease in value while others are holding steady. See our AIRCRAFT FOR SALE page for additional information.

Beech C90 King Air Values

With the increase in aircraft values this may leave some owners underinsured. If you have been renewing your insurance policy with the same values, it may be worth a look at what it would cost to replace your aircraft in today’s market.

If you haven’t adjusted your hull values in recent years, take a look at these reasons why hull value is so important:

1. Replacement cost could exceed your Aircraft Hull Value

If you don’t have enough insurance to cover the cost of a replacement aircraft, you may have to come up with additional funds or settle for an aircraft of lesser value.

2. Your aircraft could be worth more than when you bought it

If you have kept up with aircraft maintenance, made upgrades to avionics and/or refurbishments, your aircraft could be worth much more than what you paid at the time of purchase.

Now is the time to make sure you have enough insurance coverage for your aircraft’s value. Feel free to contact us for your updated values and be sure to include any recent maintenance or upgrades to ensure an accurate market value.

Therefore, if you’re interested in receiving an update on your hull value, call John (901) 489-4300 or Tammy at (901) 834-1600 or email tammy@johnbellaircraft.com today! We will provide you with an accurate evaluation using VRef Aircraft Value Reference and analysis of the current market.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Safe travels for the holidays

Happy Thanksgiving! Wishing you safe travels during the holidays.

We hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful! With the holidays just around the corner, we want to take this opportunity to wish you a joyous and safe Holiday Season.

This Thanksgiving our family is thankful for you, our customers! We wish safe travels to your families and wonderful memories during the holidays.

John B. Bell and family

Click here to view our aircraft for sale!

#AircraftforSale #BeechcraftforSale #LearjetforSale #BaronforSale #KingAirforSale #TaylorcraftforSale #JohnBellAircraft #HappyThanksgiving

Fall Aviation News 2019

An Amazing thing Happened!

Our Summer trip to Montana

by John B. Bell on September 30

An amazing thing happened on our Summer trip to Montana……

While eating dinner with several friends at the Continental Divide Restaurant in Ennis, MT, I was asked to tell my story of landing the King Air on the road. (Click this link for full story!) After I finished telling my story a man at a table nearby asked if I had landed that aircraft on Highway 96 near Franklin, TN. I said YES that was me. The man said, “I was there too, and I am a pilot! When I saw you fly over me at 150 ft. with both engines feathered, I knew something was wrong. I turned my truck around and then saw you land smoking those tires!”

Wow, what a small world we live in! Such an impossible coincidence 36 years later in a small corner of the world, simply AMAZING! 



1987 Beechcraft King Air C90A

King Air C90A 

by Tammy Bell on September 30

This is a nicely equipped King Air C90A with 7015 hours total time. 3466 SOH’s and 565 SPOH. It is ADSB and WAAS equipped and certified to fly into 2020!

Avionics: Avidyne EX-500 MFD with XM Weather and Radar and IFD540 Touchscreen WAAS GPS and ADS-B out. King KFC-250 Autopilot and Flight Director with dual HSI. 

Options include Raisebeck Wing Locker System, Dual aft body Strakes, Speed stacks and Gross Weight of 10,100 lbs.

Fresh Phase 1 and 2 inspections, Complete logs and no damage history. The owner is motivated to sell, so call us and make an offer!

Motivated! 1978 Lear 35A

Learjet 35A

by Tammy Bell on September 30

Buy a jet with an 1800 NM range for less than $450,000! Equipped with Honeywell Digital Electronic Engine Controls, a drag chute, and no damage history and is scheduled for ADSB install in January 2020!

10,300 hours total time and 870/3300 since CZI and 870/850 since MPI/Plenum. The avionics include dual Garmin GNS430’s, PMA8000B audio, King KMD550/850 MFD, TCAS, EGPWS, and Radar.

Optional equipment are Thrust Reversers, Engine sync, AC, Drag Chute, RVSM, and a Century III Wing with Soft Flite. This owner is also motivated to sell, so call us and make an offer. Will trade for a Learjet 45!

Price Reduced! 1974 Cessna 340 – SOLD!

Cessna 340

by Tammy Bell on September 30

This super well equipped C340 has been sold to a happy new owner!

4535 hours on the airframe and only 595 on both engines since overhaul by America’s Aircraft Engines.

The equipment includes a full-featured Glass Cockpit with a ‘Connected Panel’ providing wireless Bluetooth connectivity. Unbelievable avionics with Aspen Evolution 2000 PFD and 1000 MFD, MVP-50P glass panel engine monitoring system, GNS530W WAAS GPS, and much more!

Fly in year round comfort with Air Conditioning, pressurization, and De-ice. 

Owner Motivated!! 1976 Beechcraft B55 Baron

B-55 Baron

by Tammy Bell on September 30

The price on this Baron has been reduced, and the owner is ready to move on to his next aircraft. 010 hours total time and 340/1325 hours on the engines. 

Excellent avionics included with this Baron are WAAS Garmin GTN650 GPS/Nav/Comm/MFD, GMA350c bluetooth Audio panel, GTX345 Transponder with ADS-B Out, and a King KFC-200 Autopilot and Flight Director with an HSI.

The dual yoke, large baggage door, and de-icing equipment make it a perfect aircraft for year round flight. With a little paint and TLC it will make great business or pleasure aircraft. Call us and make an offer!

Price Reduced!! 1970 Beechcraft E55 Baron

E-55 Baron

by Tammy Bell on September 30

The price on this Baron has been reduced to $129,900. This Baron is flown regularly and has an average of 195 hours per year. It has 440/725 since engine overhauls and has excellent IFR avionics. 

Avionics include WAAS, two 5” GPS Moving map displays and ADS-B including Weather, Traffic and Electronic Charts! It’s a superb all weather IFR plane with de-ice too.

1963 Beechcraft P35 Bonanza

P-35 Bonanza

by Tammy Bell on September 30

This P-35 Bonanza is hangared in Savannah, TN, with 5685 hours total time and 1065 since Factory Reman 300 hp engine. It is IFR equipped with King with a GPS, digital Nav/Com, transponder and stormscope. The autopilot has been replaced with an STEC 60-2 with alt. Hold and pre-select, HSI and much more. 

Price Reduced!! 1943 Taylorcraft Clipped Wing

Taylorcraft Clipped Wing

by Tammy Bell on September 30

This beautiful aerobatic aircraft was once owned and flown in Airshows by the famous Sandi Pierce who was a wing walker! It has a 100 hp Continental engine overhauled 205 hours ago and a McCauley Climb prop. Own a piece of history for only $29,900


John Bell Aircraft, Inc.

14 County Road 523, Como, MS 38619

(901) 489-4300

Turbine Multi-Engine Glider Rating

In Spring of 1983 I was working as a sales manager for Memphis Jet center. We obtained a King Air 90 with no reversers previously owned by Bob and Spence Wilson which they traded on a King Air 200.

On Tuesday, June 23, I had a sales demo with George Nickey, a Memphis real estate developer, going to Nashville, TN. I instructed the line service to top off N75XA, a 1965 model King Air 90 LJ-50, with very inaccurate fuel gauges. While in the front lobby I observed the fuel truck in front of the aircraft with caps off and then went to review the flight plan. 15 minutes later I went to the front desk and asked to see the fuel ticket. The fuel sheet was in the truck across the ramp, so I walked over to see how much fuel it took. The fuel sheet showed N75XA taking 274 gallons of fuel which sounded like the correct amount as I had flown it the day before on a shorter flight and the aircraft holds 384. The previous flight would have taken approx. 100 gallons so that sounded correct.

George Nickey arrived, and we preflighted the aircraft with him in the left seat. We spent 30-40 mins on the ground going over systems and airframe. Due to the weather I had to file an instrument flight plan to Nashville with 600 ft ceilings and 2 miles visibility. We finally take off and climb to 11,000 ft breaking out of the clouds at 8000 ft. As we approach BNA, we are cleared to 8000 ft. Soon after we re-entered the clouds the left fuel flow went to 0, and the engine quit running. I reached across George and activated the manual cross feed. The engine started again, and I declared an emergency with Nashville approach. 5 minutes later both engines quit and fuel flows to 0. I notify approach that I need a vector to the expressway. They turn me right to a heading of 135 where they say there are fields down that way….

At that time I feathered both engines to extend my glide and told George to get in the back, sit behind me and prepare to crash. My initial reaction was that someone had done me in! I thought about my new wife, Tammy, since we had just been married the previous year. My next thought was if I had ever done any fancy flying NOW WAS THE TIME!

I broke out of the clouds at 600 ft and George yelled “There is a field to the right!” It was your typical Nashville field, 5 acres and a big rock in the middle, so I keep looking around. Next I spotted a two lane rural highway which I later learned was Hwy 96 which runs East and West out of Franklin, TN. Having done thousands of spot landings in my past, this one had to be my best.

On left downwind I observed a pickup truck heading West. I also saw a dump truck heading East towards me. Indicating a rate of glide of 120 knots I crossed over the pickup truck and fully cross controlled the aircraft into an extreme slip to lose airspeed. Going across the pickup at about an 70 degree angle, I kicked it back to line up with the road and touched down 100 ft in front of the truck. I retracted flaps about ten feet off the ground to get the best braking action and laid on the brakes. On the hilly road I topped the first hill and could see the dump truck still coming. The mailboxes beneath my wings were racing by as I tried to slow the aircraft down. As I topped the 2nd hill the dump truck hadn’t slowed down or noticed me, so I am standing on the brakes and burning rubber.

At the top of the 3rd hill my speed had slowed sufficiently to pull off the road. The dump truck pulled around my wing still sticking out in the road and stopped. George went flying out of the cabin door as the dump truck driver stopped. He stepped out of his truck and asked “ya’ll having any trouble?” George replied, “No we just stopped for a coke!”

The pickup truck that I went over sideways and landed in front of caught up to us and stopped. The lady driving got out and ran up to me and shook me shouting, “You could have killed us!” I replied, “No, Ma’am, I was not going to hit you.” Her husband finally pulled her away saying, “Mable, the man did the best he could!” Another car drove around us but didn’t stop.

Next a young man came down the driveway. He was 16 years old and had just joined the Civil Air Patrol. I thanked him for his first rescue and gave him $100 to guard the airplane.

The FAA arrived a very short time later. He asked me what happened, and I replied, “Well it is out of fuel.” The FAA then took his measuring wheel to see the stopping distance and returned to me saying that I stopped it in 1190 ft. He said, “You must have used full reverse to do that.” I just replied, “Yes Sir”, jokingly.

I called Howard Entman, the owner of Memphis Jet Center, to tell him what happened and explain that we would need to have a truck come pick it up. Howard said that he would come up and fly it out, but I decided that I would be the one to fly it out.

The next day was a circus! The Stevens Aviation fuel truck driving down to refuel the plane was following two Highway Patrol escorts too closely, and they collided. After they finally arrived I asked them to top off the nacelle tanks only, so it would be light enough for the short take off.

The aircraft received very little damage in my landing except for a power line which took off the rotating beacon, however, the Nashville FSDO took 3 hours to determine that it was airworthy for take off. During this time a crowd of about 200 people gathered in the heat to watch the show. Ambulances, fire trucks, and police gathered in preparation for my departure. Two different people came up to me and offered me a beer! I asked the Highway Patrol for cones to mark the power lines.

After the FAA finalized their report I taxied down to the point where I landed. Again with the mailboxes racing beneath my wings during my takeoff roll, I looked up only to see patrol cars at the end of the road stopping traffic. On the 3rd hill I had enough speed to lift off and pulled up over the patrol cars. Making a left turn over the huge crowd, I had thoughts of a victory roll but decided I was probably in enough trouble and just waved the wings to say ‘Good bye’. The next day the headlines in the Tennessean read, “Plane Runs Out of Fuel, Lands on Highway 96”.

Upon returning to Memphis Jet Center to determine what happened to my fuel, I learned that the lineman fueling N75XA had quickly departed. The other linemen said that he stopped fueling N75XA because he thought he was supposed to be fueling the Wilson’s other King Air. They said he had been smoking weed and was never heard from again!

The FAA filed a violation and tried to take away ‘All Airman Certificates’ held by me for 90 days for violating FAR sections 91.5 and 91.9 for improper visual inspection of fuel tanks. (Click here to read the NTSB Case) My great lawyer, June Entman, defended me at the NTSB court where we had 19 King Air pilots prepared to testify that you cannot visibly determine the amount of fuel in a King Air due to the dihedral in the wings. On the 13th pilot’s testimony the judge stipulated against the FAA lawyer’s protest that it was not necessary to visibly check a King Air for fuel. Even with this stipulation the NTSB judge said you must have done something wrong so you are guilty! June appealed the ruling where the judge turned it over with not guilty. To this day, I have not received an FAA Air Metal or an endorsement on my pilot’s license for a “turbine multi-engine glider rating”…

George Nickey was initially understandably upset with me, however, after being told by several other pilots that he was lucky that I had been the pilot, he bought 3 other airplanes from me.

Can you fly after your FAA Registration expires?

The quick answer is NO!

     Once your FAA Aircraft Registration has expired, the aircraft is not authorized for flight. You must now start a re-registration process which can take a minimum of 6 weeks to several months. There is no way to expedite this process. You cannot fly on a pink slip until the process is complete, and you may risk losing your original N Number.

     In 2010 the FAA revised the aircraft registration process to require re-registration of US aircraft every 3 years. The FAA will mail a notice 180 days prior to the expiration date to the address provided on the Registration Application (Form 8050-1). 60 days before expiration you will receive one additional notice. Many times these notices are overlooked or misplaced.


  • Look up your aircraft on the Search Aircraft Registration Information web page. Verify that the mailing address and the names of owners shown are correct. If the mailing address is wrong, the owner should update the address promptly. It may be useful to print the results page.
  • It is advised to file a registration renewal application about five months before expiration. Complete AC Form 8050-1B Aircraft Registration Renewal Application online. Print the form and sign it as appropriate for the aircraft’s type of ownership. Send the form and the $5 renewal fee to the FAA Aircraft Registration Branch at the address shown.
  • You may complete the Aircraft Registration Renewal online after you receive the FAA EXPIRATION OF AIRCRAFT REGISTRATION NOTICE in the mail. You will need the ‘Online Security Code’ supplied by the FAA in order to complete the renewal online. Note: The online option is available only if no changes need to be made.
  • Pay an aircraft title company to handle the renewal process for you.


  • Fortunately, there is a legal way to obtain a new registration. If you transfer ownership of your aircraft to another entity and file for a new registration with the FAA Aircraft Registration Branch, you can fly away on a pink slip anywhere in the United States. Take caution in the transfer so that you do cause sales taxes to be due and be sure to transfer insurance coverage to the new registrant.