International Aircraft Services – buyer beware!

Cadet door damage 01Now, I’m usually a very positive person, generally looking for the upside to most problems but occasionally I reach the end of my tether…what follows is not a whinge – just a warning to would-be aircraft shippers.

As regular readers will recall, last year I bought an aircraft from the USA – an Interstate Cadet – and shipped it to Australia. I used a company called International Aircraft Services LLC, based at Hayward Executive Airport in California, to disassemble the aircraft and pack it into a container and arrange shipping to me. They did this well, even helping to fix a problem with one of the seats, which was broken during the ferry flight from Idaho.

But there was one important exception. They didn’t shut the upward opening pilot door properly and during the travel, somewhere between Hayward and Melbourne, the door came open and, aided by its gas strut, the door contacted the side of the container, which damaged the bottom edge.

Cadet door damage 03No problem – I thought. I’ll claim on the insurance for the A$1,500 or so it cost to fix – I’d already paid International Aircraft Services for the insurance, which was a specified item on their invoice.

To cut a long long story short, I have been unable to get any insurance money to cover the cost of fixing the door. Not because the insurance company refused the claim but because International Aircraft Services will not tell me who the insurance cover is through and how to make a claim. They do not return my calls and emails (over two dozen documented at the last count) asking for the details of how to make a claim. The person I dealt with is Ed Therrien, who I believe is either the owner or a senior person in the company.

So, if you’re thinking of shipping anything via International Aircraft Services, particularly an aeroplane, learn from my expensive experience – get the insurance details in writing before going ahead. Or don’t use International Aircraft Services.

UPDATE – in mid-December 2014, after emailing International Aircraft Services of my intention to post this blog article, they asked me to send them my bank details for a payment – which I did. They said they would make a wire transfer – which after over 7 weeks they still haven’t. Cynical or what?

6 thoughts on “International Aircraft Services – buyer beware!

  1. Pete was total wrong….first of all, he never opened the container at the port once it arrived in AUS. The insurance only covers the sea voyage, and at the port only….this was explained to Pete. He then complained about the cabin door damage after 3 months….and he had issues trying to assemble the aircraft. So, what did he expect? He also failed to pay the mechanic here for repairs done to the Cadet…the aircraft arrived here in Hayward with a broken seat. (Broken by the ferry pilot, hired by the original owner). So, there is our side….
    International Aircraft Services.

    • I don’t know who sent this comment from International Aircraft Services but they clearly are not aware of the actual facts of this case. What they have put forward is definitely a set of ‘alternative facts’.

      Here’s the truth, according to the email trail I have retained:

      1. The aircraft container was opened on the dock by Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS). They check for illicit material inside the container and don’t generally report contents damage unless it is considered to be hazardous.

      2. As soon as the aircraft arrived in the container at my airfield on 14 May 2014, it was obvious that it was damaged. The right side (and only) door had come open during transit, coming into contact with the container side, damaging its lower edge against the side of the container. At the time, it seemed obvious that the door had not been closed properly and the gas strut had pushed it open during transit. I took photos and sent them that same day to Ed Therrien at International Aircraft Services with a request to initiate a claim. He acknowledged my email the following day, apologising for the damage and requesting an estimate for repair.

      3. I subsequently checked with the AQIS inspector who confirmed verbally there was damage to the door when he inspected the container.

      4. On 3 June 2014, I emailed a repair estimate, again to Ed Therrien, requesting a clearance to proceed. The following day, I received a reply, asking confirmation about the container being opened on the dock, that it was trucked to my airfield, and a further description of the damage to the door. I replied the same day with answers to these questions, confirming my comments above, including the damage confirmation by AQIS.

      5. Over the next few months, I tried unsuccessfully to obtain from International Aircraft Services a copy of the insurance certificate and payment for the repairs.

      6. Eventually, on 16 December 2014 – almost 6 months later – I received an email from Ed Therrien requesting my bank details so a ‘wire’ transfer could be made. I provided bank details by email the following day.

      7. On 13 January 2015 I sent an email to Ed Therrien to say I had not yet received any funds transfer. I repeated a similar email on 26 January 2015. To date I have received neither a copy of the insurance certificate nor any payment whatsoever.

      8 It is true – I did not pay the mechanic to repair the damaged seat in the aircraft. This is because the owner agreed with International Aircraft Services to cover the cost, as the damage occurred while his friend was ferrying the aircraft to Hayward.

      9. It is also true that there were some issues concerning the left side landing gear, which the engineer found while re-assembling the aircraft. However, these had absolutely nothing to do with the damaged door.

      It is two years since the incident, and I now receive this comment on my blog. I completely stick by my original blog comments and totally reject the ‘alternative facts’ provided by the unknown person.

      I repeat – if you are going to use an international company to ship your aircraft, make sure you have a copy of the insurance certificate before you hand over any $$$. In the light of these ‘alternative facts’ from International Aircraft Services, you may wish to consider very carefully before hiring them.

  2. I have used International Aircraft Services & the service was great, I think your incident is not the norm for them & I have every faith in them settling your claim. I do know someone who did have a large claim against them and it was settled immediately…… I think their attitude on settling any claim varies according to the attitude of the customer. Not implying anything as don’t know the circumstances of your situation.

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