Discrepancy isn’t a term with good connotations. It usually means something falls short of expectations or differs from the norm. When you’re buying a jet, it’s not a word you want to encounter at any phase of the transaction. But discrepancies are something almost every used jet buyer faces. They’re a natural part of the inspection process and an important one to acknowledge before ownership of the aircraft changes hands.
Also called “squawks,” discrepancies can range from minor annoyances to major airworthiness concerns. Aircraft buyers need to understand that discrepancies exist in every used jet, and that some squawks reserve more attention than others in their ability to make or break a sale.
The squawk scaleThe word discrepancy is simple to understand: A difference between two things which ought to be identical. In the context of a plane, this definition has a much broader implication.
A small rip in one of the passenger seats of a used jet is a discrepancy. But so is a leading edge that’s out of limits. One of these issues affects airworthiness; the other is purely cosmetic. Both show up on a discrepancy report, but one of them isn’t likely to sink a sale. Realizing the severity of a squawk within the context of the plane’s condition means discerning what’s truly important versus what’s not.
Who fixes damages and what’s worth haggling over?
A discrepancy report is going to list every single thing that’s wrong with a plane — from major airworthiness issues like body corrosion and worn brakes, to minor interior scuffs and stains. As a buyer, you’ll get the complete scoop on your potential investment. It can be overwhelming, especially if the report is several pages with multiple glaring concerns.
Who fixes discrepancies? That’s the question any buyer immediately asks, and the answer truly depends on the situation. The seller is on the hook to deliver an airworthy jet, so often they’ll assume responsibility for fixing major discrepancies. For cosmetic squawks and notes of condition, the situation can get murky. For example:
- The seller may be willing to cover repairs up to a certain amount, allowing the buyer to choose which squawks to address with those funds.
- The buyer and seller may negotiate a list of repairs, making the sale contingent on repair completion.
- The seller may come down on sale price with the condition that the buyer assumes repair costs.
- The buyer and seller may use a mediator to determine a fix/no fix list before the sale.
As with any transaction, the goal is to reach a compromise. Sellers want a fair price for their used jet; buyers want a jet that’s safe and in good condition. The key to achieving this balance lies in navigating the squawk scale. Beyond airworthiness repairs, buyers and sellers need to determine what cosmetic discrepancies are low priority versus those that could waylay a deal.
Listen to the squawks and distinguish what matters
The key to understanding, resolving, and moving past discrepancies is in navigating the pre-sale discrepancy report. Reports will (hopefully) be thorough, documenting the entire scope of a discrepancy. From this documentation, buyers and sellers can tell what’s of critical importance versus what’s just static. Beware of reports with lackluster descriptions and read deeper into squawks to get a feel for their level of importance. Then, make your concerns known to the seller before the transaction is finalized.