View Full Version : Things to look out for when buying first flex

23-07-13, 22:04 PM
Hi folks.
I started training a couple of years ago and had to take a break due to work (or lack of) but am now back in to it and loving it.
I am looking to buy my first flex on a budget of around 6k and Im totally baffled by one thing! (well several really :banghead:)

I understand the differences between the craft and engine options on the craft within my budget but its the huge variation in hours that has me a little stumped. You tend to find a lot around the 5-600 hr mark and a few at 1000hrs +
A recent example I have seen is a lovely looking quantum at around 5k but with over 1000 hrs. Kinda put me off but maybe im just being over cautious

My question is what is the best way to avoid huge bills in the future (i.e. crank replacements, new sail etc) which would probably cost more than the initial purchase price of the plane. Are there any hard and fast rules??

I understand that the basic maintainence will be inevetable but after a few pointers for avoiding the big repair bills.
Having a plane i couldnt afford to fix would be worse than having a packet of fruit pastles i couldnt eat!!

Any advice greatly appreciated.
Many Thanks

:tux:I just had to use this.....Cool!!

23-07-13, 23:06 PM
There is always a bit of a gamble when it comes to this stuff.

Best thing to do is to take along an experienced hand. Some high hours models are OK if have been very well serviced /looked after.

For my 2p : a 912 with 1000hrs is not such an issue provided the price reflect this. For a 1000hr 2 stroke I'd be more cautious, but if it's recently had a complete overhaul and crank it may be a reasonable deal.... Others may disagree.

Lots of variables to consider, always best to take along a knowledgeable hand to offer an opinion.

2 strokes aren't mega expensive to repair if you can DIY..., relative to needing a new sail (which you can't really DIY).

You can get sails with lots of hours with plenty of life left. Also you can get lower houred sails which are on the way out due to the amount of actual UV exposure it has had (not necessarily related to flying hours)

dave nixon
23-07-13, 23:18 PM
Buy my Blade it has 2wings to chose from 5k going 3axis(getting old) me that is.

31-03-14, 09:12 AM
I'm in the process of number crunching to see how much it will cost roughly to run a microlight of my own on completion of the NPPL. Initially my thoughts are to either hire out a schools microlight or buy into a synidacte first before buying on myself.

I was looking at the some aircraft for sale on the web to just to get an idea. I was surprised how reasonably priced they are until it started detailing the stats of the air frame and wing etc. I'm sure it all depends on the manufacturer of the aircraft and components as to which hours require maintenance?? BUT what does is all mean??

Being a newbie to microlights, I am certainly lost with the definition of terminology and was hoping you chaps and ladies would be able to help.

I am choosing this one that was for sale last year just as an example.

1991 Mainair Sports Flash 2 Alpha with Rotax 503 DCDI - 2,000

Airframe - 511hrs
Engine - 522hrs

As it says the airframe has 511 hours of flight but when would this require a maintenance? Would I just have to look at the manufactures instructions?

Same for the engine how do I know that this will be due an overhaul soon etc.?

The permit and weight report had ran out on this machine, so the new owner would have to get another. What does the permit system entail and how much does it cost? Is it a little like a MOT? However it didn't mention the wing life, but what questions would you ask when inquiring about the hours on the wing or possible UV exposure?

I suppose this information is good to have, not just for buying one on my own but in a syndicate too. Sorry for any silly questions.

Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Ryan

01-04-14, 20:01 PM
1st things first.... wings. every inspection entails a Betts test, this is to determin the condition of the wing & stiching, there is a setdown procedure and a specific load applied to the fabric & stiching, dependent on wing. early P&M wings [F2a, XL's, ect ] dont seem to fail the tests very oftern, but the Q2, Quick,Quazar do ...... there also seemed to be a period of "weak" fabric used on the Q2 wings

airframes: Blade Vs Quantum the Blade has very little "Lifed Parts" where as the the Quantum has quite a lot of "strip/inspect or lifed". Part of the inspection process is to confirm that these have been adhered too... older aircraft, dont seem to have "lifed" parts and so seem to go on for ever...

Engines : 2stroke Vs 4 Stroke (rotax) now this is your choice ? 2Strokes aircooled (503)..simple easy to maintain, reliable, not too thursty, ideal 1 up.
water cooled (462, 582)... could you do basic maintainance to moped or car ?... some knowlege needed, fairly reliable, can be thursty, 582 capable 2 up
4 strokes (rotax) do you know your way round an engine ???.... main advantage is the reliability and fuel consumption. BUT dont forget it is still an engine and WILL need to be checked and maintained regularly. Girgled before run up, regular carb checks / balance, and 8 spark plugs

summary older 2 strokes : fine cheap machines, hours are not too important as long as they are well looked after machines, will be great hr builders. and trips of 60 miles each way.... avoid ones that have been at the "back of the hanger" for years.
later 2 strokes : very capable machines in any form, 582 blue top if possible, my choice would be a Quantum. ( check for well maintained and log book notation !!!)
4 strokes : as per later 2 strokes, but Blade has the better "lifed" parts issues. my choice Blade
A good rule of thumb when looking at an aircraft... does it looked loved ?? YES - now have a deeper look NO - walk away, or take someone who knows and can
haggle !!

Before viewing any aircraft, print off the HAD's or TAD's for it , read it, and check the aircraft against it.... this will give you a better idea of what to look out for. they are available from the BMAA webb sites under "aircraft technical."

Friendly Inspector....

andy dixon
01-04-14, 21:36 PM
Low hours,low hours and of course.....low hours would be nice.

A low hours aircraft will always sell its self when you come to get rid of the thing.if they look tatty and unkept on the outside then it would be no surprise if that's what you find on the inside.

Rust is usually the first sign of neglect

Quantums look nice and Are a good alrounder.

06-04-14, 09:32 AM
Friendly Inspector....

Find your local version of this, I have, they are a massive source of help and information. Find some way to repay their help.

I have been fortunate in this respect and it has made and enormous difference to my flying.

28-06-14, 22:04 PM
I have found this to be really helpful ( thanks PeterIDMS) as I had the same questions and that breakdown helps a lot. What does the "Blue Top" refer to ? and what constitutes "low Hours"? As an analagy, a car can be averaged out at 10-12K miles per year, so a 5 year old car with 60K miles has an average mileage. Can I work out flexwing hours in a similar way? And as this IS a newbie section :scratchheadblue:... what are Hads and Tads? < sigh> so many questions :razz:

29-06-14, 11:01 AM
My dearly-beloved put together a sort of Q&A on this topic as part of oour web site's beginner's guide. See here: http://www.bumble-bee.demon.co.uk/Misc_info/Second_Hand_Aircraft_V3.htm

You'll find a lot of the earlier advice here echoed in that, In addition, it includes some useful links such as to the TADS and HADS :-)

My favourite bit advice (after take someone with you who knows what they are looking at) is to look at the paperwork first because if you look at the aircraft first you might fall in love with it and then ignore all its faults... :kisscheek:


29-06-14, 11:50 AM
Thanks for that Joan. Plenty of excellent info there for me to investigate. That will keep me quiet for a while... :D