UK authorizes new offshore register

 - September 12, 2006, 8:34 AM

The Isle of Man–a British Crown Dependency located in the Irish Sea between the UK and Ireland–expects to have its new aircraft register up and running next spring. In July, the UK government notified the International Civil Aviation Organization that it will allow the Isle of Man to use the “M” tail number registration that was allocated to the UK in 1919 (along with the “G” tail number).

Brian Johnson, who was appointed the Isle of Man’s first director of civil aviation in April, has incorporated all the necessary legal articles into the Isle of Man’s air navigation order and presented a draft of this to the UK Department of Transport in July. Over the next six months, Johnson’s department will employ aircraft surveyors and set the standards by which aircraft will be considered for entry to the new register.

The Isle of Man intends to offer an aircraft register that combines credibility for technical requirements with the flexible and attractive fiscal terms for which the territory is known. The register will be open only to corporate and private aircraft.

Since the Isle of Man is not a contracting state to the Chicago Convention, its register will be administered under the auspices of the UK government. According to Johnson, UK officials believe the new register will prove a more technically credible and transparent jurisdiction than other offshore aircraft registers.

The Isle of Man charges significantly lower rates of personal and corporate taxation than the UK or other European countries and has long been popular as a tax domicile for wealthy individuals. The state’s Department of Trade and Industry has initiated the move to establish the new aircraft register.

The island’s established shipping register includes some 900 vessels, including about 40 large yachts (with another 40 luxury yachts due to join soon). According to Johnson, an Isle of Man resident will be one of the first Europeans to take delivery of an Eclipse 500 VLJ (S/N 26).

UK To Rule on Foreign Aircraft

Meanwhile, the UK Department of Transport has said that it expects to publish this month the long-awaited findings of its consultation on possible restrictions for foreign-registered aircraft that are based permanently in the UK. The consultation period ended last October.

The British Business and General Aviation Association has staunchly opposed restrictions on foreign-registered aircraft based in Britain. It has argued that many operators feel compelled to register aircraft offshore because UK authorities have made it needlessly costly and difficult to put them on the British register.