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How to Know When to Upgrade Your Aircraft

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As an aircraft owner, keeping your aircraft in tip-top shape should always be your first priority. Performing regular maintenance on your aircraft will not only ensure its airworthiness but will also help maintain the value of your investment.

Making upgrades to your aircraft is also an essential way to maintain its value, and keep things running smoothly. Let’s take a look at the many upgrades available for your aircraft and when you should upgrade.

Types of Upgrades and When To Upgrade

Avionics System Upgrade

An avionics system update allows you to customize your cockpit and replace outdated elements with top-of-the-line technology, so you can take your flights to the next level. In addition, this upgrade increases the resale value of an aircraft.

When to Upgrade Your Avionics System

If you don’t have an integrated avionics system, that is a good reason to consider upgrading. With an integrated system, all of your components are engineered by one manufacturer, creating a seamless flight experience. It’s also important to keep up with FAA mandates, as they and other aviation regulators regularly order updates, like the ADS-B upgrade that went into effect in January 2020.

Interior Upgrades

Interior upgrades can include the replacement or refurbishment of all soft goods and hard goods within the cabin, including custom seat design, new restraint systems, lighting, and much more.

When to Upgrade Your Aircraft Interior

Over time, usual wear and tear can start to take a toll on your aircraft’s interior, reducing your and your passengers’ enjoyment. If your interior is starting to show signs of wear, that may be a good time to consider an upgrade, especially if you will be selling your aircraft in the near future.

Engine Repairs and Overhauls

Sometimes only minor repairs are needed on an engine but there will come a time when a complete engine overhaul will be necessary.

When to Upgrade or Overhaul Your Engine

The recommended TBO (time between overhaul) is dependent upon the make and model of the aircraft. In some cases, the FAA will allow you to continue to operate the engine past the TBO, but only with certain requirements.

Structure repairs and modifications

An aircraft has 5 major structural components: fuselage, wings, empennage, landing gear, and powerplant.

When to Upgrade Aircraft Structure

If your aircraft is starting to show signs of stress, such as compression, tension, bending, or torsion, it may be time for a structural repair. This can also include the repair or replacement of landing gear, fuselage, and wings.

Paint touch-ups or new design

Painting an aircraft is part of the required maintenance because it helps to prevent corrosion. Whether you need to touch up some dings and scratches, or you want to change the color or design completely, this is a great upgrade to make, especially if it’s in combination with another upgrade or repair.

When to Upgrade Aircraft Exterior

A typical paint job protects an aircraft for about 6-8 years.

Things To Consider

When deciding whether it’s time to upgrade, there are many factors to consider, including your budget, the age of the engine, and your aircraft’s performance expectations. You should also think about how you intend to use the aircraft over the next several years and whether or not you plan to sell it in the near future.

There may also come a time when your current aircraft no longer serves your needs, and you need to upgrade to a new aircraft. If that’s the case, we can help. Find out how much you can afford with our online aircraft loan qualification calculator.

How to Finance Aircraft Upgrades

Whether you are looking to purchase your first aircraft, improve your current one, or upgrade to a new aircraft, applying for a loan is easy with our online application process. USAF is your one-stop shop for all your aircraft financing and insurance needs.

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