Industry News

March 2009 Issue

Late-Model Cruisers: Cessna, Cirrus Are Tops

Diamond’s Star and the Archer are contenders, but there are more SR20s and Skyhawks, with predictable pressure on prices. Want used glass? Now’s the time.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. We’re not talking about Dicken’s 19th century London, but last week in the used aircraft market. It’s the best of times if you’re looking for a late-model used aircraft of any kind, the worst if you’re trying to sell anything for top dollar. Stated another way, if you made a note to yourself to start shopping for a used model with glass after they’d been on the market for five year, now would be a good time. The market is awash with good deals on recent model aircraft and many of them have full glass for under $200,000—the downward pressure on prices is obvious. High inventories and brokers willing to wiggle improve buying prospects.For this article, we’re focusing on entry level four-place cruisers, specifically the Cirrus SR20, the Cessna 172, the Piper Archer and the Diamond DA40 Star. There are even better deals in the step-up Cirrus SR22, but we’ll focus on that later. About five years ago, brokers we occasionally talk to surmised that as Cirrus, Cessna, Columbia (now Cessna), Diamond and others pumped new aircraft into the market, this flood of new airplanes would inevitably put downward price pressure on the used fleet. We seem to have crossed this dividing line, thus the used models that had been appreciating or holding their value, now no longer do. Values of older used aircraft haven’t yet paralleled the sort of depreciation that’s standard for cars, but with fewer buyers, they simply don’t retain value as they once did. The trend seems to represent an unusually good buying opportunity for owners looking to upgrade to something newer. Some surprisingly recent model aircraft are selling for prices we wouldn’t have dreamed of two years ago. For our purposes, "recent" means 1997 forward—that’s the year Cessna came back into the market. Two years later Cirrus introduced the SR20, then Diamond rolled out the DA40 Star.

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