How many times have you been in an aircraft that is immaculately maintained inside and out? Before becoming an operator, it was rare for me to have flown an aircraft that I had paid to cross hire that was in immaculate condition. Often I would jump in to find worn seat cushions, broken interior panels, discoloured, or dirty interior carpets, old food wrappers in the back of the seats, drink containers (or worse) rolling around on the floor, greasy fingerprints or my absolute biggest hate, dried dirty sweat on the yoke and switches! IT IS SO GROSS!
As a pilot and an aircraft owner, I believe in basic airmanship standards that matter when using someone's airplane. It doesn't take long to wipe over the controls and switches, pick up your rubbish and dispose of it, clean the windscreen and give the aircraft a quick vacuum, if there are fresh oil marks, wipe them off while they are warm, it is much easier to remove oil before it cools. And, heaven forbid, if you got that airplane really dirty, give it a wash and get the dirt and bugs off it! Not only does this make the next pilots experience a lot nicer, it also keeps the aircraft in a well maintained condition.
A well-maintained aircraft will always have a higher resale value than one that is not well maintained. Now, when I am saying 'well-maintained', in this case I am referring to an aircraft that is maintained beyond what the minimum regulatory standards require.
The regulatory standards establish the baseline for airworthiness and nothing more.
A worn seat belt needs to be replaced to maintain airworthiness while a worn seat cushion does not! Airworthiness is related to safety, not actual value.
Being well-maintained means more than keeping up with the required inspections and component overhauls. It means the aircraft has its equipment in functioning order, non-critical wear and tear items are taken care of, and cosmetics are recognized as important, too!
The aircraft exterior should also be kept clean and polished, and the interior comfort and convenience items need to be maintained in good working order, cleaned and updated as required.
A clean aircraft is not only more appealing, but problems and issues are spotted earlier and thus, may be easier and less costly to remedy.
Now since we are talking about a well maintained aircraft, we should also talk about the maintenance records and log book statements. Accurate, thorough and complete maintenance records will always add value to an aircraft.
Keep your records up to date and accurate. Ensure that your LAME is detailing all maintenance in the aircraft records and that any loose leaf log book entries are entered into the maintenance records securely, not just left to fall out.
A clean, well-maintained aircraft will tend to be more reliable in its day-to-day use. Along with its accurate records, this will speak volumes to a future buyer that they are indeed getting a quality aircraft and it will also be a lot more appealing for those wishing to cross hire a clean, reliable aircraft!