The Wild World of Airplane Repossession
In a bad economy, it makes sense to most of us that some folks will go bad on their loans and lose their cars. Vehicle repossession is common and commonplace to most people. While it is discussed less frequently, a bad economy is also the cause of defaults on many airplane and aircraft loans. This branch of repossession work has come into the limelight of late, with featured articles in Forbes magazine and the New York Times. The Discovery Channel even has a syndicated show out. While the imagination spins that airplane repo jobs must be a bit like being James Bond, roguishly taking back dazzlingly romantic property, those companies and repo men who do it tell a somewhat different tale.
Keeping and owning a plane of any grade or style is costly. Even if you aren’t flying it and thus paying for proper insurance, licensing, docking rights and fuel, you will still have to pay to store it and maintain it. Even the very wealthy usually don’t own their aircrafts outright, but instead rent or lease them, with the option to upgrade the asset to something newer and flashier along the way. These lease payments are not cheap considering the usual lack of necessity to owning one’s own personal airplane. Those repo men who work to recover planes are specialized individuals. They must have a pilots license and be able to fly a wide variety of planes. The must be trustworthy to the airplane owners to whom these crafts get returned to dispel the debt of the renter. Generally these are banks and financial firms who specialize in aircraft loans, and are international agencies.
There is a certain level of daring involved, especially because repossessing planes is a worldwide gig. The individuals wealthy enough to lease aircraft may be anywhere in the world, and their plane may be parked in another one entirely. Depending on the region where the repossession is occurring the laws may range from extremely rigid to nonexistent. Sometimes airplane repo men must risk bodily harm just to get in the plane, let alone fly it away from the site. Some airplane repo agents describe shocking situations in which they have had guns fired at them, been imprisoned in foreign jails or have been termed as criminal in certain nations for completing repossessions. The work, however is highly lucrative, and the 1960’s spy-like excitement is often viewed as a perk of the job.
It serves to reason that since aircraft-based property is so expensive and valuable, the percentage or fee paid to those with the skill and the moxy to perform the repossession of an airplane will be equitably generous. Beyond the actual event of recovery, the networking and technology needed to track these planes and where they are is a big part of the airplane repo man’s job. Some airports and landing sites are obligated to report the presence of a plane tagged to repossession, but these rules are looser in some places than in others. Some of this technology can even track where and when a plane is getting fueled. A niche career pursuit, those who work airplane repo jobs say the work is expanding, so if you can fly a plane, you might consider this a new line of work.