Aircraft Registration

U.S. Aircraft Registration with the FAA

Registration of aircraft with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has many considerations to address. These range from the company type to individual and partnership arrangements as well as the intended operation of the aircraft. There are also many underlying filing requirements which can cause aircraft owners to place the registration of their aircraft in jeopardy.

It should be noted that the FAA now requires re-registration of U.S. registered aircraft every three years or thirty-six (36) months. Notice of 180 days or six (6) months is to be provided to the registrant. Registered owners need to be vigilant with regard to re-registration as failure to re-new registration can have many consequences including but not limited to grounding of an aircraft as well as default under lease and lending arrangements.

We are able to assist our clients successfully navigate the considerations and requirements necessary for aircraft registration.

Non-U.S. Citizen Aircraft Registration with the FAA

There are three (3) options to register an aircraft to a non-U.S. citizen which are as follows:

    1. A non-U.S. citizen corporation may obtain N-number registration under FAR Section 47.9 so long as 60% or more of the flight hours of the aircraft are accumulated in the U.S. This type of registration requires reporting to the FAA every six (6) months starting the month of registration. Many aircraft owners find this to be a restrictive registration for turbine powered aircraft.
    2. A voting trust is the second arrangement which is a means of registration under FAR Section 47.8. This option for registration requires the following four criteria to be met.
        • The aircraft must be owned by a U.S. domestic corporation
        • Two-thirds of the corporation’s managing officers must be U.S. citizens
        • Two-thirds of the corporation’s board of directors must be U.S. citizens
        • U.S. citizens must own at least 75% of the voting interest in the corporation’s stock.

      In order to meet the above outlined criteria, it will be necessary to form a U.S. company, hire an officer, and retain a trustee for the purpose of holding the shares of the company in trust to meet the 75% voting criteria. This method or registration is often preferred if there is a need for U.S. state sales tax mitigation, the aircraft will be based in the U.S., and the trustor files an IRS tax return in the U.S.

    3. An owner trust is the third arrangement which a trustee will hold legal title to the aircraft for a foreign trustor under FAR 47.11. The trustor is often a U.S. bank or institution associated with a U.S. financial institution. This arrangement works well if the trustor has little or no contact with the U.S. other than the need to register the aircraft in the U.S. and does not file an IRS tax return.

The appropriate structure is unique to the circumstance. We will welcome the opportunity to guide you concerning the appropriate means of registration for your unique circumstance.

Registration in Foreign Jurisdictions and Countries

In many circumstances, aircraft will change registration during the course of a purchase or sale transaction. We provide guidance in the de-registration of an aircraft from its current registration and coordination with foreign jurisdictions. Transition of registration has included but is not limited to the following registries: Isle of Man, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, Cayman Islands, Canada, Bahamas.

Registration of Interests on the International Registry

The International Registry of Mobile Assets is a centralized means to establish legal interests in airframes, aircraft engines, and helicopters. It is a requirement for aircraft registered in countries party to the Treaty and is a common requirement of aircraft lenders for the perfection of their interest. We are well versed in the filings necessary to secure your international interest.