Contributor: Neerasha Singh, Partner Webber Wentzel
1. Which authority is in charge of the civil aviation registry in South Africa? Does South Africa use a single-registry system or is there a dual-registry system in place?
The South African Civil Aviation Authority (“SACAA”) is in charge of the civil aviation registry in South Africa. South Africa uses a single-registry system.
2. Is the registry an operator registry or an owner registry (or both)?
The registry is an operator registry.
3. What are the requirements and documentation to register an aircraft in South Africa? Include references to formalities such as notarisation, legalization, etc.
The application for registration of an aircraft is made by the registered operator on the prescribed SACAA form. The original application form and the prescribed registration fee must be submitted to the SACAA Director, together with certified supporting documents. The following information needs to be provided in the registration form including, amongst other things:
- Particulars of the aircraft;
- Aircraft type;
- Engine type and serial number; and
- Intended operation of the aircraft.
4. What fees are payable to register an aircraft in South Africa?
New registration of aircraft fees – R840.
5. Are there any weight and/or maximum age restrictions to register an aircraft in South Africa?
There are no weight or age restrictions unless the aircraft have not been through the acceptance process in South Africa.
6. Does registration of an aircraft in the national registry constitute proof of ownership under the laws of South Africa?
No. The registration of an aircraft and the issuing of a Certificate of Registration does not confer or imply beneficial ownership of the aircraft.
7. How is an aircraft title transfer effected in South Africa? What are the formalities required to register such title transfer in the national registry of South Africa (e.g., notarization, legalization etc.)? Please summarize the related costs and procedures.
Title to an aircraft is transferred on delivery of a bill of sale by the seller to the purchaser. There are no notarisation or registration requirements applicable to bills of sale in South Africa. In instances where the purchaser is a SA individual or juristic person, SACAA records will need to be updated to reflect that the purchaser is the new owner.
8. What information and details are reflected in the certificate of registration of an aircraft?
- Nationality and registration marks;
- Manufacturer and manufacturer’s designation of aircraft;
- Aircraft serial number;
- Owners Name;
- Owners Address;
- Date of issue of Certificate of Registration; and,
- The mortgagor and mortgagee’s details as well as details of any applicable mortgage registered in South Africa.
9. Are the entries in the aircraft registry of South Africa made available to the public upon submission of a specific application to the competent authority? Are there any fees payable for this?
Entries in the registry are made available to parties that have a legitimate interest in the aircraft demonstrated by a letter of authority. Information provided to such parties exclude postal and physical addresses and other possible contact details (i.e., telephone and email) of the holder of the Certificate of Registration. The entries are accessed by application to the SACAA in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act. Nominal fees are payable to the SACAA, including for copies of the documents.
10. What kind of aircraft operations can be conducted with aircraft registered in South Africa (i.e., private use, commercial air transport or both)?
11. Does the civil aviation authority in South Africa authorise the operation of foreign registered aircraft? If so, with which countries has South Africa entered into bilateral agreements on the basis of article 83-bis of the ICAO Chicago Convention for the delegation of regulatory oversight?
The SACAA and South African Department of Transport (“DOT”) authorises the operation of foreign registered aircraft. The DOT has entered into bilateral agreements with the following countries:
- China (Hong Kong)
- China (Macao)
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- Republic of Korea
- Russian Federation
- Saudi Arabia
- South Sudan
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States
12. Is there a separate register of aircraft mortgages and/or leases and/or security interests in South Africa?
Aircraft leases are not registered with the SACAA. However, there is a seperate register of aircraft mortgages.
13. What are the formalities required to register a mortgage / lease / security interest in the national registry of South Africa (e.g., notarization, legalization etc.)? Please summarize the related costs and procedures.
Aircraft leases are not registered with the SACAA. However, aircraft mortgages may be filed with the SACAA by the following process:
- The mortgagor to complete and execute the relevant SACAA form;
- Provide certified copies of forms, power of attorneys and resolutions; and,
- Payment of the prescribed fee.
14. Is a mortgage priority notice an available security instrument for aircraft financiers in South Africa?
15. Does an aircraft mortgage duly registered in the national registry of South Africa extend to engines and other parts of such aircraft (either installed or not on the airframe)?
Aircraft mortgages duly registered with the SACAA extend to engines and parts for so long as the same are contained in the deed of mortgage.
16. What statutory liens (if any) would rank prior to an aircraft mortgage duly registered in the national registry of South Africa?
There are no statutory liens that would rank in priority to a mortgage registered with the SACAA.
17. Do the laws of South Africa provide for possessory rights and/or rights of detention over aircraft in favor of third parties (such as airport taxes, customs duties, air navigation charges, crew’s wages, MRO’s receivables)?
Yes, these are typically imposed in contract.
18. Are foreign law-governed security agreements (e.g., mortgages) recognized in South Africa in order to validly create a security interest over an aircraft registered in the national registry of South Africa? If so, are there any formalities/requirements to bear in mind?
Generally, yes. These are subject to conflict of laws principles. Foreign law-governed mortgages may be registered with the SACAA.
19. Are foreign law-governed leases recognized in South Africa in order to validly lease an aircraft registered in the national registry of South Africa to a lessee incorporated in South Africa? If so, are there any formalities/requirements to bear in mind?
Generally, yes. Leases are not filed with the SACAA.
20. Has South Africa ratified the Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the related Aircraft Protocol? Has South Africa made any declarations to better determine the scope of application of the Convention / Protocol in South Africa? If so, what is the impact of such declarations on aircraft registration issues? Are there any specific aspects relating to the enforcement of IDERA’s to be considered?
Yes, South Africa has acceded to, ratified and incorporated the Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the related Aircraft Protocol into South African law. Declarations have also been made by SA. Whilst the SACAA accepts the filing of IDERAs and Deregistration Powers of Attorney, in our experience, the SACAA will not act on an IDERA without an order of court in the event of a contested repossession.
21. What are the requirements and documentation to deregister an aircraft from South Africa? How does the aircraft deregistration process work?
The deregistration process is as follows:
- The operator / owner must complete and execute the relevant SACAA forms (together with the relevant corporate approvals);
- submit the necessary import, customs and exchange control documents; and,
- pay the prescribed fee.
Once processed, the SACAA will cancel the Certificate of Registration and issue a communication to the registry on which the aircraft will be registered.
22. What fees are payable to deregister an aircraft from South Africa?
The fee to deregister an aircraft in South Africa is R840.
23. Is the consent of the mortgagee / lessor (as the case may be) required in order to deregister an aircraft from South Africa?
24. What are the usual practical difficulties (if any) involved in deregistering aircraft from South Africa?
Delays in processing documents due to the pandemic.
25. How long does deregistration take, both where there is co-operation from the defaulted party (mortgagor / lessee / Operator) and where there is no such co-operation from it?
Deregistration can be effected within two to four weeks, depending on the availability of the required information to effect deregistration and workloads at the SACAA. Where there is no co-operation from the defaulting party, a court order is required and, depending on the urgency, this may take a few weeks to months.
26. Please outline the applicable repossession rules under the national laws of South Africa (and the Cape Town Convention, if applicable) following an event of default under a mortgage or a lease, including registration issues with the national registry in South Africa.
Generally, if the repossession is contested by the lessee, a court application will be required in order to deregister and export aircraft from South Africa. Currently, self-help clauses in leases are invalid in South Africa.
In a non-contested repossession, the South African lessee must follow the deregistration process in order to achieve the same.