New offshore register close to opening

 - December 21, 2006, 10:28 AM

The Isle of Man–a British Crown dependency located in the Irish Sea between the UK and Ireland–is on track to have its new aircraft register up and running this spring. The necessary changes to the offshore territory’s existing aviation legislation are due to go to its parliament this month.

According to Brian Johnson, the Isle of Man’s first director of civil aviation, no objections to the legislation were raised during a recent comment period. The new law also needs the approval of the UK government’s Privy Council (a group of senior ministers) and this should be requested next month. It is hoped that the register could be operational by the end of May.

The new register will issue tail numbers beginning with the letter “M,” which the International Civil Aviation Organization allocated to the UK government in 1919. Johnson’s department has employed aircraft surveyors to set the standards by which aircraft will be considered for entry to the 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 noted. 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. The Isle of Man charges significantly lower rates of personal and corporate taxation than the UK or other European countries and has long proved popular as a tax domicile for wealthy individuals.

Significantly for some companies and individuals, the Isle of Man is not part of the European Union, so it offers a way for them to operate outside European Union law. However, since its aircraft register is allied so closely with the UK authorities, it is not expected to deviate from accepted European operating standards.