Contributor: Odi-sé Avocats
Author: Matthieu de Varax
1. Which authority is in charge of the civil aviation registry in France? Does France use a single-registry system or is there a dual-registry system in place?
France’s electronic signature legal regime lies within Regulation (EU) No. 910/2014 of July 23, 2014, and articles 1366 et seq. of the French civil code.
There is no specific rule as to the use of electronically executed documents by the Aviation Authority.
The Aviation Authority requires original documents to be provided for the purpose of registrations. Such originals may either be in wet ink or in electronic form (in the sense of electronic signatures with certificates provided by an EU regulation, “Electronic Identification Authentication and Trust Services” (eIDAS)).
2. Is the registry an operator registry or an owner registry (or both)?
Although there is no specific rule as to the use of electronically executed documents by the Aviation Authority, it should be noted that such documents are valid if a permissible identification procedure has been used, the signatories are properly identified, and the integrity of the document is guaranteed (articles 1366 and 1367 of the French civil code). The certification of the signatures must be provided by an eIDAS.
3. What are the requirements and documentation to register an aircraft in France? Include references to formalities such as notarisation, legalization, etc.
The register maintained by the Aviation Authority is accessible online and shows registrations that have been made in relation to a given aircraft. There is no specific register for Aircraft Documents and Aircraft Lease Documents.
4. What fees are payable to register an aircraft in France?
No. The Aviation Authority requires registration files to be sent to it on paper. For registration of documents that have been electronically executed (such as Leases, Mortgages, Bill of Sale), the electronic original of said documents must be sent to the Aviation Authority by email.
5. Are there any weight and/or maximum age restrictions to register an aircraft in France?
Any document executed through an electronic means in relation to an aircraft will be valid and enforceable if it complies with France’s laws on electronic signature, whether or not it is required to be registered with the Aviation Authority. It should be noted, however, that registration of a lease with the Aviation Authority is advised as it shifts the burden of liability in the event of an incident involving the aircraft (the operator becomes solely liable instead of being jointly liable with the owner). In the case of a mortgage, such mortgage should also be registered as it conditions its effectiveness against third parties.
6. Does registration of an aircraft in the national registry constitute proof of ownership under the laws of France?
Yes. Pleadings and procedural documents may be sent to other parties, which are represented by a lawyer and to courts through an online platform for lawyers and courts only.
7. How is an aircraft title transfer effected in France? What are the formalities required to register such title transfer in the national registry of France (e.g., notarization, legalization etc.)? Please summarize the related costs and procedures.
Yes. Documents should comply with France’s laws on electronic signatures. There are no official digital signatures in France.
8. What information and details are reflected in the certificate of registration of an aircraft?
Electronically executed documents are valid if a permissible identification procedure has been used, the signatories are properly identified, and the integrity of the document is guaranteed (article 1174 in conjunction with articles 1366, 1367 of the French civil code). Some contracts may require specific wordings to be written by a specific person (for example, suretyship (cautionnement)). Such wording may be included in the contract under electronic form only if the procedure warrants that solely the relevant person could have included it.
Although it is common practice to include wording to that effect, Parties’ express consent to using digital signatures is not required for the validity of contracts.
9. Are the entries in the aircraft registry of France made available to the public upon submission of a specific application to the competent authority? Are there any fees payable for this?
10. What kind of aircraft operations can be conducted with aircraft registered in France (i.e., private use, commercial air transport or both)?
11. Does the civil aviation authority in France authorise the operation of foreign registered aircraft? If so, with which countries has France entered into bilateral agreements on the basis of article 83-bis of the ICAO Chicago Convention for the delegation of regulatory oversight?
There are no apostille requirements in France. Documents may be presented to the Aviation Authority in French or English; documents in another language must be accompanied by a free translation in either French or English. As for French courts, documents must be presented in French or with a certified French translation. It should be noted that the commercial court and the court of appeal of Paris accept documents in English.
a. Has France implemented the e-Apostille program?