Buying Avionics “As Is”

Written by Joe Braddock

Why is buying avionics “As Is” not such a good idea?

car used salesperson selling old car as brand newMany parts sales companies, online sellers and auction sites offer the ability for consumers to purchase avionics at what seem to be discounted prices.  Some prices seem very attractive and possibly give consumers the opportunity to get a great deal on avionics.  Most of these buying scenarios also consist of buying avionics with no warranty, no returns, or “as is”.  Some sellers offer what seems to be a little more attractive 30 day guarantee.

While you may get lucky and win sometimes, it is a gamble nonetheless.  Many consumers are not aware of significant factors that may affect the reliability, longevity, validity and ultimate support for an avionics component.

For example, while it may seem like a good deal to buy a KLN-89B or KLN-94 GPS with little or no guarantee at half the price of wholesale or retail, you will eventually wind up with a unit that you may end up throwing in the trash.  Why?

Displays are no longer available from the manufacturer for the KLN-89B or KLN-94.

Another example:
That GNS-430 for $3000 on an auction site sure looks tempting.

How could you go wrong?

Well, maybe you missed the little detail that the unit is part number 011-00280-00 and that is one of the first GNS-430 units ever produced.  Oh well, it’s an oldie but goodie right?

First of all, the -00 is a 28 volt unit only.  Second, Garmin discontinued support for the -00 a few years ago.

So, while your $3000 GNS430 ‘steal’ works now, you may be flushing $3000 down the toilet in the near future.

That does not seem like a wise investment considering the cost to maintain an aircraft.

There are many examples of scenarios such as these that many owners, operators, and consumers are unaware of when they go for these ‘deals’.  From discontinued support by the manufacturer to obsolete parts to uncertified/unauthorized modifications to units that could lead you into trouble with the FAA.

Aviation is not the industry to be gambling in.  Safety and certification are crucial.  Aircraft are complex machines with many sensitive parameters.  Why ultimately risk your life on something that doesn’t have at least some sort of guarantee or validation to it?

Repair stations and maintenance procedures don’t just exist so that shops can make lots of money.  While these shops are in business to…well, make a profit, most provide a means of validating the serviceability or integrity of an aviation part or aircraft.  The shops who follow the rules & regulations, maintain current tech pubs, won’t cut corners, and don’t skimp on the details are your best bet.  Sure it may not always be the price you want to pay. However, what is the price for peace of mind, quality, and safety?  There is a cost for that is there not?

The jackpot answer is that there is no one right answer.  Everyone can agree to disagree on what’s right for them and what they should or should not spend on something.  However, no one can disagree that spending more for something in the long run and wasting your time is not a good idea.

Buy “As Is” and you are almost guaranteed to pay more and waste time at some point in the long run.


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