Airplane For Sale: Tips on buying a used aircraft kit or second-hand plans (blueprints)

Scam Alert: Buyer Beware

eBay Auctions Alert:
There are sometimes a number of eBay auction listings for Zenair Zodiac XL and STOL CH 701 aircraft that are "ready-to-fly with builder assisntace" in Czechoslovakia (and other eastern European countries) and that the "complete aircraft (turn the key and go)... will qualify you for certification in Experimental category" and that the "aircraft will be certified in the USA by the winning bidder." 
eBay listings (click thumbnail images):
Fraudulent eBay listing: Zodiac     Fraudulent eBay listing: STOL CH 701

Beware, these listings are probably fraudulent. The foreign seller, identifying himself as "balenanida" / "Czech Sportsplanes factory", is not associated with Zenith Aircraft Company, and the seller is obviously not familiar with FAA rules and doesn't appear to know the airplane well (the photo of the Zodiac is not of the XL model).  Even if the advertised aircraft do exist and can be delivered to you, there is no guarantee of the quality of the materials and assemblies, and importing an airplane into the US can be very complex and costly (and would probably not qualify for FAA registration), and service and spare parts may not be available to you.  Please do not bid:  By bidding on such items you encourage fraudulent sellers, and may expose yourself to identity theft, spam, and fraud.

If you are interested in purchasing assembled aircraft, please contact AMD of Georgia.

The growing demand for Zenith Aircraft kits and completed airplanes, combined with the popularity of online auctions (such as eBay) and web-based classified ads (such as BarnStormers) have made it a breeding ground for online scams.  Be very careful when buying from online auctions or classified ads.  Over the years, a number of scam kit aircraft projects and blueprint photocopies have come up for auction or sale online.  Some scammers are educated and will appear to be legitimate sellers.  Beware - don't bid or send money unless you know you're dealing with a legitimate seller.

Hints: Before buying or bidding, obtain the sellers contact information and call them. Get the seller's full name, address and phone number, and request the aircraft serial number: Every Zenith kit and/or plans has a unique serial number issued by Zenith Aircraft Co.  If the seller does not know the serial number, do not proceed.  If the buyer is located outside of your country, be aware that importing an aircraft or kit can be very complex and very expensive.

If the place the seller wants you to send payment to is different than the place the auction or ad says is their location, proceed very carefully. If they request a Western Union wire transfer there is a very high chance that the deal is fraudulent - do not proceed.  Money transfer services such as Western Union are not designed to be a payment vehicle when doing business with a stranger. Be cautious if a seller tells you that he will only accept money transfer as a payment method. Most legitimate sellers will accept more than one form of payment. Be suspicious if a seller tells you how to "safeguard" your purchase by putting a money transfer transaction in the name of a friend or loved one, or how to establish a "test question." 

More info: 

Buying Used Plans and/or Kits:

Before buying or bidding, request the serial number which is located on the first page of the drawings (blueprints) from the seller: Every Zenith kit and/or plans has a unique serial number issued by Zenith Aircraft Co.  Once you have this information you can contact Zenith Aircraft Co. to obtain information about the customer's project.

In addition to exercising "buyer beware" common sense, look out for the following:

  • Age of the drawings/kit:  If you buy an older set of drawings or kit, be aware that it will not include newer features that may have been introduced since the original purchase date, and that the parts and plans are not new. 
  • On occasion, duplicate copies of the same serial number have been sold numerous times to unsuspecting buyers.  Zenith Aircraft Co. will only support and recognize one unique serial number.
  • Sometimes the age of a project is misrepresented or overlooked: For example, realize that a kit that was registered in 2007 may in fact have been purchased (and manufactured) many years earlier.
  • Kit vs. Scratch-Built:  Sometimes plans-built parts may be sold by an individual as original factory-made parts when in fact they are hand-made by a hobbyist.
  • Completeness/Condition of Kit:  Used kits may be incomplete or damaged.
  • Assembled and Flying Projects: Exercise "buyer beware" common sense. Realize that the aircraft is Experimental and that it may have been built incorrectly, and that it may have been modified, and/or may not conform to aviation standards.
  • Copies of Chris Heintz designs are produced in a number of countries and are often sold as "improved" designs.  Exercise extreme caution with cheap knock-offs, and realize that Zenith cannot support customers or builders of copies.
  • Zenith Aircraft Company cannot support builders or aircraft that do not have a valid serial number, nor can it support aircraft built from parts manufactured by a third party, and cautions buyers that just because it may "look" like a "Zenair" it may not be built from parts manufactured to the same standards, or may be built from parts made from inferior raw materials, and that modifications are generally not approved by the designer.  

EAA is an excellent resource for info on buying, building, maintaining and operating a kit aircraft.

It must be noted that the vast majority of sellers and buyers are honest.  However, this usually just makes it easier for scams to occur online.  Remember...If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

If you are the successful buyer of used plans and/or a kit, contact Zenith Aircraft Co. with "change of ownership" information.  This will be required to obtain technical support and to register the kit with the FAA.

Zodiac Series | STOL CH 701 | STOL CH 801

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 Zenith Aircraft Company

Zenith Aircraft Company
Mexico Memorial Airport, PO Box 650
Mexico, Missouri, 65265-0650 USA.
Tel: 573-581-9000 (Mon - Fri, 8-5 Central),
Fax: 573-581-0011
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