Buying and importing your first aircraft
A private plane is often seen as the ultimate luxury item – the sort of lifestyle accessory reserved exclusively for the rich and famous. But while private aircraft, including helicopters, are certainly big-ticket items, it’s not just the jet set who see the sense in having their own set of wings.
Graham Horne, Regional Director of Cirrus Aircraft, considers that in a big country like Australia, a private plane simply makes sense for many people.
“People lose a whole day trying to fly using traditional methods; through transfers, check-in processes, etc.,” he says. “With your own plane, a 12-hour drive becomes a two-hour flight, especially in a country without the motorway systems of Europe or the US.”
For the love of flying
Graham estimates that his clientele is split fifty-fifty between business and personal use. Many of Graham’s clients are pure enthusiasts, in it for the sheer love of flying and the rush of freedom they feel when climbing into the cockpit.
“Cirrus planes are the world’s best-selling general aviation aircraft,” says Graham. “They’re built in Minnesota, USA and flown to 54 countries around the globe.” Cirrus sells models ranging in price from around US$400,000 to US$1 million (that’s around AU$550,000 to AU$1.4 million).
Ninety percent of those importing private aircraft to Australia are also pilots, according to Graham, himself a pilot with nine years’ experience. “It’s not as difficult as many people think to get a pilot’s licence,” he insists, “It only takes 45 hours’ recorded tuition time.”
Streamlining your luxury goods purchases
Graham notes that many of his customers, even if they have purchased aircraft before, are not necessarily experienced when it comes to importing them. While the process of buying luxury items overseas has traditionally been convoluted and expensive, at OFX, we are taking the sting out of the process.
Unlike the banks, we charge no fees for transfers AU$10,000 or over* and offer more competitive exchange rates. By providing a 24/7 service to over 300,000 customers around the globe, our international money transfer service has become an attractive option for those importing big ticket luxury items, like cars, planes, yachts and more.
Graham took the time to talk us through importing a Cirrus aircraft from overseas.
Importing an aircraft – step by step
- Find an official retailer to buy from rather than a broker or a luxury goods auction – you can’t guarantee authenticity when you buy privately. The retailer can take you through the full range of options, from deciding on the model to choosing the seat colour.
- You may want to hire an independent agent in the same location as the manufacturer (Minnesota, USA in the case of Cirrus). This is so that you can give the agent power of attorney to inspect your aircraft, and eventually accept it, on your behalf.
- Once you have the agent’s go-ahead, you’re ready to make payment – a very straightforward process. If you need help with your transfer, we’re available 24/7 to guide you through it.
- Many of our transfers can be completed by the next working day. Once the importers receive your payment – you may grant power of attorney to the agent so they can take possession of the plane.
- Cirrus will then fly your new aircraft – whether plane or helicopter – to your location or wherever you want it. For Australia, this means flying from Minnesota to Hawaii, Hawaii to Samoa and onto the Gold Coast. Once delivered to you, Cirrus gives you three free days of Cirrus Transition Training to acclimatise you to your new machine.
Graham’s top tip? “Don’t forget to think ahead about where you’re going to keep it – either on your own land or in a rented hangar at a local airport,” he says. Storage is one of the most overlooked aspects for first-time plane buyers.
A final warning
Buying planes is addictive, says Graham. “After their first purchase, at least half of our customers come back for more.” All the more reason to save as much as possible on your money transfer.
*Occasionally, third-party banks may deduct a fee from your transfer before paying your recipient. This fee may vary, and OFX receives no portion of it.