FAA Matters

Aircraft Registration

FAA Enforcement

Title and Liens


FAA Certification

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.

Aircraft Title and Liens

At the time of purchase and sale or in the event of dispute with a vendor or customer, encumbrances to the title of aircraft often occur. These encumbrances are often mechanic’s liens, fuel liens, and undischarged lender interests. We are well versed in the cost-effective discharge of these claims. We represent aircraft owners, lenders, repair facilities, and vendors in the lawful negotiation and litigation of such disputes.

FAA Certifications

The follow through and attention to detail necessary to obtain FAA certification for maintenance facilities, charter operators, and flights school can be a challenge. Our attorneys are familiar with the FAA and the unique considerations and time frames for obtaining certification. We look forward to working with you in your application and as a liaison with the FAA for Part 135 certification for on-demand charter operation, Part 145 Repair Station certification, and Part 141 flight school certification.

FAA Enforcement

As members of the AOPA’s legal services panel, our attorneys are experienced with the defense of airmen, pilots, mechanics, aircraft owners, and repair facilities before the FAA and the NTSB. Our attorneys have represented airmen from the initiation of an FAA investigation through the NTSB hearing phase including emergency revocation proceedings. Our attorneys stand ready to diligently seek the best outcome.


Unmanned Aircraft Systems


By law, any aircraft operation in the national airspace requires a certificated and registered aircraft, a licensed pilot, and operational approval.  Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA) (PDF) grants the Secretary of Transportation the authority to determine whether an airworthiness certificate is required for a UAS to operate safely in the National Airspace System (NAS).

Authorization for approval prior to the finalization of the Small UAS Rule for allowing such aircraft to perform commercial operations is currently being granted on a case-by-case basis.

The Section 333 Exemption process provides operators who wish to pursue entry into the NAS (safely and legally) a competitive advantage in the UAS marketplace with the intent to discourage illegal operations and improve safety. The FAA Administrator has identified this as a high priority project to address demand for civil operation of UAS for commercial purposes.

There are two ways in which to submit an application:

Petitions for exemption can be sent by internet (www.regulations.gov) or in writing.

It is highly recommended petitioners carefully review the “Conditions and Limitations” section in the most recently granted exemptions.  This will provide valuable insight as to what the FAA is approving under Section 333.

When you are ready to create your petition you must provide the following information to ensure you will not experience any processing delays:

      • Operator’s name and address;
      • The specific applicable regulations from which relief is required (CFR’s);
      • How the operator will maintain an equivalent level of safety or no adverse impact to safety;
      • The proposed operations; and,
      • he make and model of the aircraft for proposed operations (aircraft manuals are not necessary.)

After you have successfully created your petition and you are ready to submit, all of your proprietary/confidential documents should be clearly marked and emailed including your comment tracking number.

Note that it will take approximately 12 weeks for submissions to be posted to the docket and assigned a docket number.

Should you choose to submit your petition in writing you must send the original signed copy of the petition to:

Docket Management Facility
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.
West Building, Ground Floor Room W12-140
Washington, D.C.  20590

The above is a brief description of the overall process of petitioning however we are here to assist in the application process for a successful submission.