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The first Cessna Model 172 was built in 1956. Parts for this airplane and other aging aircraft can be hard to find and are often extremely expensive. If you have a hangar full of parts, chances are that someone is looking for something in your inventory. Selling those parts will help out a fellow aircraft owner, make more room in your hangar and provide you with some gas money.
Research the parts. In order to sell your airplane parts, you need to locate the part numbers. There may be a printed tag on the part, or the part number may be printed or etched on the part itself.
If a part number is not evident, research the number in the aircraft manufacturer’s illustrated parts catalog. Once you locate the part in the catalog, note the models or serial number ranges for which the part is used. This information will be contained in the usable code column of the parts catalog.
Determine the part’s condition. Make notes of your answers to these questions: (1) Is your part new or used?; (2) If used, are all the components present?; (3) Is the part free of corrosion?; (4) Does the part work as designed?; (5) If the part does not work, is it repairable?
If the part is an engine or propeller, how many operating hours have elapsed since the part was overhauled? How many total hours of operation does the part have? Answers to these questions will be contained in the engine or propeller maintenance records.
Some parts are “life limited” by the manufacturer. This means that the parts are considered scrap after a certain number of hours or cycles of use. Life-limited parts are tracked in the aircraft’s maintenance records. If the total number of hours or cycles for a life-limited part cannot be determined, the part is considered scrap.
According to the office of the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation, knowingly selling either a counterfeit part, or a part beyond its life limit, is a federal crime. These crimes can carry stiff penalties and prison time.
If your part is not at all serviceable, it may still have value as memorabilia or decoration. When you sell unserviceable parts, however, you must clearly state that the part does not work and is for decorative value only.
Determine the part’s value. Aircraft parts can be stunningly expensive, so don’t sell yourself short. The value of your part will fall somewhere between the scrap value from your local metal recycler and the price for a new part.
If your part can be overhauled (i.e.. a starter, alternator, instrument, etc.), it often will have a “core” value. A core item is overhauled by a service company and resold. If someone buys an overhauled item, the buyer is charged a “core charge” for not having a core to exchange at the same time.
If you have a lot of parts to sell, or are selling parts as a profession, a subscription to an aircraft parts value guide may make sense. This will enable you to view all the parts value research in one place. One pricing guide used by maintenance professionals is avref.com.
Decide where to sell your parts. If you only have a few parts to sell, free or inexpensive options may work well for you. Free basic ads can be placed on barnstormers.com. You can also sell the part cheaply on eBay.com.
If your parts inventory is extensive, a subscription to a parts listing/locator service will give you good exposure to aircraft maintenance professionals. Two examples of these services are partsbase.com and ilsmart.com.
Don’t rule out the experimental or “homebuilt” world. People who build experimental aircraft are always looking for aircraft parts that can be repaired or adapted for their aircraft. Your local Experimental Aircraft Association chapter can be found through the EAA website (see Resources).
Robert Osborne has written professionally since 2010. He writes for eHow, specializing in aircraft and boat maintenance, home renovation and electrical engineering. Osborne earned his Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from George Washington University.