Isle of Man

Following the success of its commercial yacht registry, the Isle of Man is hoping to attract jets to the island with its new aircraft registry. By Faye Moffett

The Isle of Man Aircraft Registry opened for business on 1 May. Within two days of the register becoming operational, three Cessna Citation jets had been registered.

There is already a number of registrations in the pipeline and it is anticipated that there will be at least seven jets on the register within the first two months of its operation.

It is hoped that the aircraft registry will mirror the success of the Isle of Man Ship Registry’s Registry of Commercial Yachts, which since its launch in 2003, has attracted around 50 of the world’s superyachts.

The legislation
The Isle of Man Aircraft Registry offers the same international standards as the UK’s equivalent, and similarly the legislation follows UK provisions.

The Air Navigation (Isle of Man) Order 2007 (a UK statutory instrument that came into force on 1 May 2007) is the principle legislation enabling the Isle of Man to establish its own aircraft register. The 2007 order is based on the UK Air Navigation Order 2005 and contains a number of regulations relating to the registration, marking, airworthiness, equipment, manning, operation, movement and safety of aircraft in the Isle of Man and the licensing and welfare of flight crew of aircraft registered in the Isle of Man.

In addition, a number of orders have been made pursuant to the Isle of Man Airports and Civil Aviation Act 1987 that apply UK primary and subordinate legislation to the island, subject to any necessary adaptations and modifications. Examples of some of the UK legislation that has been applied to the Isle of Man include the Mortgaging of Aircraft Order, the Rules of the Air Regulations, the Aeroplane Noise Regulations, the Civil Aviation (Insurance) Regulations and the Air Navigation (General) Regulations.

Types of aircraft
The Isle of Man Aircraft Registry is open to private and corporate aircraft and helicopters and there are no restrictions on the weight of aircraft that can be included on the register.

The registry is the first dedicated corporate aircraft registry in a European timezone and is focused primarily on new aircraft. In 2005-06 there was an increase of 24 per cent in worldwide private aircraft sales and the Isle of Man register is expected to prove attractive to professionally flown aircraft used by businesspeople wishing to avoid the delays of commercial airline travel.

Isle of Man-registered aircraft cannot be used for public transport and aerial work.

Nationality and registration marks
An Isle of Man-registered aircraft must bear the nationality mark ‘M’ followed by the registration mark, which will be a group of four capital letters assigned by the aircraft registry upon the registration of the aircraft.

However, it is possible for an owner to request an out-of-sequence registration mark (subject to availability and the payment of an additional fee) and to therefore personalise their aircraft registration. Unlike on the UK register, an owner will be able to transfer their registration mark to any new aircraft. Examples of some of the possible permutations include M-AGIC, M-YJET and M-ACRO.

Who can own an Isle of Man-registered aircraft?
The following categories of persons are qualified to hold a legal or beneficial interest in an aircraft registered in the Isle of Man:
– the Crown;
– Commonwealth citizens;
– nationals of any European Economic Area (EEA) state;#UK-protected persons;
– bodies incorporated in some part of the Commonwealth and having their principal place of business in any part of the Commonwealth; and
– undertakings formed in accordance with the law of an EEA state and having their registered office, central administration or principal place of business within the EEA.

If an aircraft is chartered by demise to a qualified person, the aircraft may still be registered in the Isle of Man in the name of the charterer by demise (notwithstanding that an unqualified person is entitled as owner to a legal or beneficial interest in the aircraft). Such an aircraft would only remain registered during the continuation of the charter period.

An Isle of Man-registered aircraft is required to have a certificate of airworthiness issued by the aircraft registry. The registry will only issue a certificate of airworthiness if it is satisfied that the aircraft is fit to fly, having regard to the design, construction, workmanship and materials of the aircraft and of any equipment carried in the aircraft that it considers necessary for the airworthiness of the aircraft; and the results of flying trials and such other tests of the aircraft as it may require.

In addition, an Isle of Man-registered aircraft (together with its engines, equipment and radio station) must be maintained in accordance with a maintenance schedule approved by the aircraft registry.

Members of the flight crew of an aircraft registered in the Isle of Man must also hold appropriate licences that have been rendered valid under the 2007 order. The legislation allows for a number of licences to be rendered valid, including a Joint Aviation Authorities licence, certain licences granted under the law of a state that is a party to the Convention on International Civil Aviation and certain licences granted under the law of a relevant overseas territory.

Registration of mortgages
The UK Mortgaging of Aircraft Order 1972 has been applied to the Isle of Man (with some slight modifications) and therefore mortgagees of Isle of Man-registered aircraft can take comfort from the fact that the law relating to mortgages follows the English position closely.

A mortgagee of an Isle of Man-registered aircraft is able to register the mortgage in the Isle of Man Register of Aircraft Mortgages both during normal business hours and at any other time by arrangement. This will enable the mortgage registration to coincide with the delivery of aircraft in another timezone. A notice of intention to make an application to enter a contemplated mortgage of an aircraft in the Register of Aircraft Mortgages can also be entered in the register (a Priority Notice).

Subject to a number of transitional provisions, a registered aircraft mortgage is given statutory priority over any subsequently registered aircraft mortgages and unregistered mortgages. Where a priority notice has been entered in the register and the contemplated mortgage is made and entered in the register within 14 days thereafter, that mortgage will be deemed to have priority from the time when the priority notice was registered.

There is a fixed fee of £210 for registering an aircraft mortgage and a fixed fee of £40 for registering a Priority Notice.

Charges and fees
The Isle of Man register offers a competitive scheme of charges based upon the weight of the aircraft. By way of example, the fee payable for registering an aircraft with a maximum total weight exceeding 5,700 kg is £110 and the fee payable for the initial issue of a certificate of airworthiness is £75 for each 500kg of the maximum total weight of the aircraft. In addition, the Aircraft Registry will charge on a time spent basis for the time taken to carry out any investigations and inspections reasonably necessary for the registration of the aircraft and the issue of the certificate of airworthiness.