How To Read a “For Sale” Listing

Browse this informational guide on how to read an aircraft listing like a pro.

For some, learning how to read an aircraft listing can be confusing. In this article, we go section by section and look at a listing from Aircraft For Sale, and learn how to read it, what it means, and why it matters. By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll be able to read an aircraft listing like a pro.

Step-by-Step Guide - Read an Aircraft Listing

The Aircraft: 2007 Cessna Citation XLS for $6.495m

Cessna Citation XLS On ground

First glance, looking at the aircraft, is that the paint isn’t much of a looker. The exterior condition reads “Snow White with Martin Marietta Blue, Blue Gray and Nordic Gray Stripes” and is the original paint from 2007. Typically, a new paint scheme would be on the docket for an owner who is particular about how their airplane looks. It’s going to cost $85k+ to repaint the airplane according to Twin & Turbine Magazine.

Airframe and Propulsion

Cessna Citation XLS Front View

When you read an aircraft listing, it’s important to note the major cost center on any aircraft is in the engines. This is going to be the most important part, along with the inspections being up to date (later in this post). We see in this listing that both engines have 3,843 hours SNEW (since new). The overhaul interval on the XLS is 5,000, so we have 1,157 hours until a major engine maintenance event. If you’re flying 250 hours per year, you have a little over 4.5 years until you need to overhaul the engines.

Engine Program

What is an engine program? Think of this like a hybrid of a Health Savings Account combined with an insurance program for the engines.

This aircraft is enrolled on Power Advantage Plus, which is an engine program from Textron (the manufacturer) and Pratt and Whitney (the engine manufacturer). This is the highest level of engine reserve program, which has a cost of $306 per hour per engine ($612 per hour) which is a reserve account for replacement parts, scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, life cycle fatigue items, and shop labor for HSI (hot section inspections), overhaul, and unscheduled events.

The way that the program actually works is a bit vague, but is worth asking the broker exactly how the program is designed to work. This engine program is transferrable to the new buyer at no extra cost. Engine programs are good to have on the plane, and can increase the value when you go to resell it and saves you the lump sum of engine overhauls when they come due ($850k to $1.1m).


Cessna Citation XLS Panel

This is going to matter a lot more to your pilots than it is to you riding in the back. Think of the avionics as a very advanced version of the dashboard in your car. In the old days, you had a cluster that had gauges that had needles on them. Today, it’s all a computer. Airplanes are similar. This is a glass cockpit, with a Honeywell suite of avionics. This is standard equipment that came on the airplane, and unless your chief pilot squawks about needing to upgrade, this should last you a long while. This plane does take in Sirius XM weather (they don’t just do car music!) which is excellent.

Wi-Fi On Board

This aircraft does come equipped with Gogo Biz ATG-4000 broadband Internet & WiFi. This will allow you to make phone calls and browse the internet “similar to a coffee shop or hotel.” Don’t expect to do heavy downloads, but you can be productive in the air with your time.


Interior Cabin: Passes the Bathroom Check

Interior of Citation XLS


This aircraft interior configuration seats 7 passengers with 1 up front rear facing, 4 seat club, and 2 forward facing rear seats. It does not appear that this aircraft comes equipped with a belted lav (basically a seatbelt on the toilet) to add the 8th seat. There are other configurations of this aircraft that have two belted seats up front and then 6 in the rear (club and two forward facing) for a total of 8 seats.

Most of the time, the club seats are the ones in use. They offer the most interior space for the primary passengers and allow for easy conversation while at altitude. And yes, it passes the bathroom check (see photo above).

Potential Interior Refurbishment

One note in this listing, and this is something really helpful about all the Holstein Listings, is they don’t try to hide anything in the listing to try to get you to call them. Oftentimes when you read an aircraft listing, you will come across sayings like “Call for ___”, which is typically some sort of scam or run-around.

Another good thing is that they included “NOTE: Some of the wood has a cloudy appearance.” Transparent listings are ideal. It also looks like the seats, which are original, will need some work at some point. For an interior refurbishment, a recommended budget is around $200k.

Maintenance and Compliance

This is an area that can get very expensive very quickly. If an aircraft is nearing major inspections or major maintenance events, you could have a significant cost immediately after you take possession of the aircraft.

Here’s a list of the big ones that are highlighted in the listing, and are a big contributing factor to the price. A reminder: the engines have 3,840 hours, which is relevant for Doc 7, Doc 8, Hot Inspections, and Overhaul.

  • Doc 3 Inspection complied with February 2022; next due February 2024(will be completed in January 2024 at Textron ICT)
  • Doc 6 Inspection complied with September 2023; next due September 2027
  • Doc 7 Inspection complied with at 2885.1 hours; next due at 4485.1 hours
  • Doc 8 Inspection complied with at 2320.8 hours; next due at 4720.8 hours
  • Doc 11 Inspection complied with February 2022; next due February 2024 (will be completed in January 2024 at Textron ICT)
  • Doc 12 Inspection complied with December 2018; next due December 2023 (will be completed in January 2024 at Textron ICT)
  • Doc 13 Inspection complied with December 2021; next due December 2027
  • Doc 16 Inspection complied with December 2015; next due December 2023 (will be completed in January 2024 at Textron ICT)
  • LH & RH Engine Hot Section Inspection complied with at 2458.0 hours; next due at 4958.0 hours
  • LH & RH Engine Overhaul due at 5000 hours


What does this mean? Most of the major inspections are taking place this month, so you won’t need to worry about them for a few years. Some inspections are coming up in a few hundred hours, but since the engines are on programs much of this maintenance will be included in your hourly direct operating cost.

A good question to ask how exactly the engine programs work, and a good operator will ensure that you are very aware of those upcoming costs.

What About The Price?

Based on this analysis, this is a fair deal on this aircraft. You can see it with the PlanePrice, which is only available on Aircraft For Sale.

This aircraft is estimated at being worth $6,829,970, which is above the asking price. This is based on 4,000 data points including a lot of what we discussed in this breakdown.

Should You Buy This Plane?

XLS Range Map

Here is a range map of the XLS. It’s a fantastic plane because it has a long range for a relatively low operating cost. Based on an analysis provided to me by Michael Barber at Leviate Air Group, these are the costs to expect.

  • Direct Operating Cost: $2,729.26 per hour
  • Annual Fixed Costs: $687,332
  • Based on 300 hours per year, an annual budget of $1.5m
  • Financing Cost: A good estimate is $1.3m down with a 20 year amortization, 8% interest, at $43,461 per month. To calculate using a different amount, use our aircraft finance calculator.


Now that you have learned how to read an aircraft listing and the associated costs with it, you can make a better buying decision. As always, at FLYING Finance we are here to take you through our fast and easy loan process to make sure you can close on your next aircraft purchase.

You Might Like This...