The Isle of Man Aircraft Registry, launched with modest expectations by the island’s government in May 2007, is seeing no letting up in activity as business aircraft owners seize on the advantages of using the M-register. Various factors are driving the registry’s popularity, including banks’ advising owners to distance themselves from Russia; VAT rules; impending ratification by the UK of the Cape Town Convention; intensified scrutiny of U.S. ownership trusts for N-registered aircraft based in Europe; and, indeed, the threat that Europe will outright ban the practice of basing N-registered aircraft in its territory.
Brian Johnson, acting director of civil aviation (DCA) at the time of the June 19 Isle of Man Aviation Conference, said that the agency had received 15 new registration applications in the first 15 days of May, a number he characterized as “a phenomenal amount of business.” In addition, he said he’d been asked “to register 27 parked airliners for three days” when they were between airlines. As of July 22, the Isle had handled 712 registrations and there were 443 aircraft on the register (a key activity is temporary registrations), Johnson told AIN.
Although a new DCA for the Isle of Man had been selected in June, Johnson was unable to reveal the person’s identity at the conference. Late last month he told AIN that the new DCA will be Simon Williams, who will step into the role on October 1.
EU Part NCC
Philippe Renz, with Geneva-based law firm Meyer Avocats, advised operators to be ready to comply with the new EU rules on non-commercial complex aircraft (Part NCC). “The EU is trying to push [safety management requirements of] non-commercial operators closer to those of commercial operators. [It] will add Camo, operations manual, SMS,” he explained. Although the Isle of Man is not part of the EU (it is part of the British Isles but not part of the UK), the island tends to observe EASA requirements. The key point, said Renz, is the importance of “knowing who is the operator…An empty shell [company] cannot be considered to be the operator…so it could be the pilot or aeroclub.” He gave the example of Volkswagen, which has nine aircraft; the company is the owner, manager and operator, so NCC rules will apply.
A panel of business aviation executives, moderated by Mark Manton of the Aircraft Registry, discussed key issues. Paul Norton, managing director of Harrods Aviation; Andrea Meier-Züllig of Jet Aviation; and Russ Allchorne, v-p of flight operations at TAG Aviation Europe, weighed in on the most important issues facing operators in Europe, other than NCC.
Allchorne said that “the industry is crying out for a set of FTLs [flight time limits] that actually understands business aviation”–but the conversation soon returned to NCC, with Norton noting that the new stricter regulation will have consequences. For example “[Using] private landing sites will be a major headache.” AOC holders already find themselves unable to justify the use of such sites.
The conference then focused on another current issue: U.S. owner trusts for N-registered aircraft belonging to non-U.S. citizens. Kevin Austin, aviation attorney with Aero Law Group of Bellevue, Wash., said, “The U.S. became concerned in 2010 and started to work on identifying who was operating U.S. [N-registered] aircraft.” The FAA is working to “examine all trust agreements and the operating agreements,” with U.S. trustees now responsible for providing additional information. He noted that money laundering is a big problem “with aircraft, cars, boats.”
The next Isle of Man Aviation Conference will take place on June 25, 2015.