Contributor: Harper Meyer
Author: James M. Meyer
1. Which authority is in charge of the civil aviation registry in USA? Does USA use a single-registry system or is there a dual-registry system in place?
There is specific legislation in the United States that addresses the use of electronic signatures and documents in various industries, including aviation. The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) are two federal laws that provide a legal framework for the use of electronic signatures and documents in interstate and intrastate commerce, respectively.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has also issued guidance on the use of electronic signatures and documents in various areas of aviation, including pilot certificates, aircraft registrations, and maintenance records. The FAA’s guidance generally follows the requirements of ESIGN and UETA, which provide that electronic signatures and documents are generally valid and enforceable so long as they meet certain requirements, such as demonstrating the signer’s intent to sign and maintaining an accurate record of the signature. Furthermore, the FAA requires electronic signatures to be digital signatures and follow certain requirements.
Regarding specific documents like leases, security agreements, mortgages, lease assignments, novation, and IDERAs, the validity of electronic signatures and documents will depend on the specific state law governing the transaction, as well as any specific requirements or guidelines issued by the FAA or other relevant regulatory agencies. It is recommended to consult with legal counsel and review applicable laws and regulations to ensure compliance.
2. Is the registry an operator registry or an owner registry (or both)?
The FAA requires that any electronic signature meets certain criteria to be considered valid and enforceable. Specifically, the FAA requires that electronic signatures be “digital signatures.” An acceptable digital signature will have, at minimum, the following components:
1) Shows the name of the signer and is applied in a manner to execute or validate the document;
2) Includes the typed or printed name of the signer below or adjacent to the signature when the signature uses a digitized or scanned version of the signer’s hand-scribed signature or the name is in a cursive font;
3) Shows the signer’s corporate, managerial, or partnership title as part of or adjacent to the digital signature when the signer is signing on behalf of an organization or legal entity;
4) Shows evidence of authentication of the signer’s identity, such as the text “digitally signed by” along with the software provider’s seal /watermark, date and time of execution; or have an authentication code or key identifying the software provider; and
5) Has a font, size and color density that is clearly legible and reproducible when reviewed, copied and scanned into a black-on-white format.
The FAA does not specifically require the use of a cryptographic platform developed by a local institute of technology for electronic signatures in aviation-related documents. However, some organizations may choose to use cryptographic platforms or other technologies to ensure the security and authenticity of electronic signatures and records. While the FAA does not require the use of a specific cryptographic platform for electronic signatures, organizations should ensure that any technology used meets the FAA’s requirements for electronic signatures and records. Accordingly, we recommend consulting with legal and industry experts familiar with the specific requirements and best practices for executing and managing aviation documents in a digital format.
3. What are the requirements and documentation to register an aircraft in USA? Include references to formalities such as notarisation, legalization, etc.
The FAA does maintain an electronic registry system for recording aircraft documents, including aircraft leases, security agreements, mortgages, lease assignments, novations, and IDERAs (Irrevocable De-Registration and Export Request Authorizations). This registry system is commonly known as the FAA Aircraft Registry and is a part of the FAA’s Aeronautical Center.
The FAA Aircraft Registry is responsible for maintaining records and documents related to the ownership, security interests, and lease agreements of civil aircraft in the United States. It is essential for aircraft owners, lessors, lessees, and other parties to file the necessary documents with the FAA Aircraft Registry to establish and protect their rights and interests concerning the aircraft. This electronic registry system allows for easier access to information and streamlined processing of filings.
The U.S. has also adopted the use of the International Registry of Mobile Assets (IR), which serves as a central repository for the registration and filing of security interests in aircraft and aircraft- related assets. The IR was established in 2004 by the Cape Town Convention. The IR allows for the electronic registration and filing of various documents related to aircraft and aircraft-related assets, including leases, security agreements, mortgages, lease assignments, novation, and IDERAs. Parties can register their interests in the IR and search the database for information about existing interests.
The use of the IR has become a widely accepted practice in the aviation industry as it provides a streamlined and efficient method for registering and searching for interests in aircraft and aircraft-related assets. Many parties choose to use it as it provides a level of certainty and protection for their interests in aircraft and aircraft-related assets.
4. What fees are payable to register an aircraft in USA?
The FAA does not have a specific database or electronic filing system for registering leases, security agreements, mortgages, lease assignments, novation, or IDERAs for aircraft. These types of documents are typically filed with the relevant state or local authorities where the aircraft is based or registered. Mortgages and Security Agreements must be sent to the Aircraft Registration Branch. Leases specifically must be sent to the FAA’s Aircraft Registry in Oklahoma City within 24 hours of executing a lease.
However, the FAA does maintain an electronic database called the Aircraft Registration Database, which is used to register and track ownership and other information related to aircraft. The FAA accepts electronic filings for certain aircraft registration-related documents, such as the Application for Aircraft Registration and the Aircraft Bill of Sale.
The FAA may also require that other documents be filed in hard copy via certified mail or courier delivery rather than electronic submission. If you need to file leases, security agreements, mortgages, lease assignments, novation, or IDERAs with the FAA, you should consult with appropriate legal counsel to ensure that the documents are filed through the appropriate process.
5. Are there any weight and/or maximum age restrictions to register an aircraft in USA?
Yes. U.S. courts consider certain documents enforceable if they are executed using some type of digital signature, even if they are not registered (or registrable) with the local Aviation Authority. Certain documents that are not directly required for registration could be considered valid and enforceable if properly authenticated and certified using digital signatures or other secure methods. Examples of such documents could include maintenance records and employment contracts.
These documents, although not directly needed for FAA registration, can be relevant in the context of aviation operations, maintenance, or personnel management. Using digital certification to authenticate these documents can provide an additional layer of security, ensuring their validity and enforceability. However, it is always recommended to consult with a legal professional to verify the specific requirements for your situation and to ensure that your documents meet the necessary standards.
6. Does registration of an aircraft in the national registry constitute proof of ownership under the laws of USA?
Yes, it is possible to file lawsuits, pleadings, and procedural documents electronically in the United States. The federal court system and many state court systems have adopted electronic filing systems, which allow parties to file documents online through a designated portal. For example, the federal court system in the United States has implemented the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system, which allows parties to file documents electronically and provides access to court documents online. Similarly, many state court systems have implemented their own electronic filing systems.
However, the specific rules and procedures for electronic filing may vary depending on the court and the type of document being filed. It’s important to consult the applicable court rules and guidelines to ensure compliance with the requirements for electronic filing. Additionally, while electronic filing may be an option for many types of documents, there may be certain documents that must be filed in paper format or that require additional steps for electronic filing. It is always advisable to consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance with the applicable rules and requirements for filing documents in a specific case or jurisdiction.
7. How is an aircraft title transfer effected in USA? What are the formalities required to register such title transfer in the national registry of USA (e.g., notarization, legalization etc.)? Please summarize the related costs and procedures.
Yes, the courts in the U.S generally accept procedural documents executed digitally, provided that they meet the requirements for electronic filing and signature authentication. There are various methods of electronic signature authentication that may be acceptable in U.S. courts, including digital signatures, electronic signatures, and other forms of electronic authentication. However, there may be additional requirements for electronic signatures in certain contexts, such as when filing documents with government agencies or for certain types of contracts. Note that not all types of documents can be signed electronically when filing with a court. The specific requirements for signature authentication may vary depending on the court, the type of document being filed, and the jurisdiction.
Regarding the distinction between official and private digital signatures, there is no single system of digital signature certification in the United States. Some types of digital signature certification may be issued by government agencies or other official entities, while others may be issued by private companies or organizations. In general, the authenticity and validity of a digital signature will depend on the specific certification and authentication method used.
It is always advisable to consult with legal counsel or court personnel for guidance on the rules and requirements for electronic filing and signature authentication in a specific case or jurisdiction.
8. What information and details are reflected in the certificate of registration of an aircraft?
Yes, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has specific requirements for the validity of documents executed by digital signatures. To be valid, electronic signatures used in FAA-related documents must comply with the requirements of Advisory Circular A120-78A 14 CFR part 11, which includes technical standards for electronic signature methods and processes. Specifically, the FAA requires that documentation submitted to them is signed with a digital signature. AFS 750 change bulletin 16-03 outlines the requirements of a digital signature.
The FAA defines digital signature as follows:
“Digital signatures are a type of electronic signature that is legally acceptable and offers both signer and transaction authentication. The digital signature is the most secure and full-featured type of electronic signature. Digital signatures are federally acceptable types of electronic signatures for business transactions as specified in the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines.”
The list of requirements for these digital signatures includes:An acceptable digital signature will have, at minimum, the following components: Shows the name of the signer and is applied in a manner to execute or validate the document; Includes the typed or printed name of the signer below or adjacent to the signature when the signature uses a digitized or scanned version of the signer’s hand-scribed signature or the name is in a cursive font; Shows the signer’s corporate, managerial, or partnership title as part of or adjacent to the digital signature when the signer is signing on behalf of an organization or legal entity; Shows evidence of authentication of the signer’s identity, such as the text “digitally signed by” along with the software provider’s seal /watermark, date and time of execution; or have an authentication code or key identifying the software provider; and Has a font, size and color density that is clearly legible and reproducible when reviewed, copied and scanned into a black-on-white format.
On the other hand, FAA regulations do not require that the agreements expressly refer to the use of digital signatures. Nevertheless, it is generally recommended that parties explicitly agree to the use of electronic signatures and consent to their use in the relevant agreement. This can help avoid any confusion or disputes regarding the validity of the digital signature.
It’s important to note that specific requirements for digital signatures may vary depending on the type of FAA-related document and the applicable regulations. If you have questions about the requirements for digital signatures in relation to a specific FAA-related document, it’s a good idea to consult with a legal professional familiar with the relevant laws and regulations.
9. Are the entries in the aircraft registry of USA made available to the public upon submission of a specific application to the competent authority? Are there any fees payable for this?
Yes, foreign entities not located in the United States can execute Lease Agreements or any Finance Documents with digital signatures to be filed for registration with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), provided that the digital signatures comply with the legal requirements for electronic signatures under US law and the specific Electronic Transactions Act (UETA).
In addition to complying with the legal requirements for electronic signatures, foreign entities may need to comply with other formalities required by the FAA for registering leases and finance documents related to aircraft. It’s recommended that foreign entities seeking to execute Lease Agreements or any Finance Documents with digital signatures for registration with the FAA consult with legal professionals familiar with the applicable laws and regulations to ensure compliance with all relevant requirements.
10. What kind of aircraft operations can be conducted with aircraft registered in USA (i.e., private use, commercial air transport or both)?
Despite some initiatives, the use of blockchain technology for the control of aircraft documents is not yet widely adopted in the United States. This is due in part to the complex regulatory environment surrounding aviation records and documents, as well as the significant investment and infrastructure required to implement blockchain technology on a large scale.
Blockchain technology offers several potential benefits for the aviation industry, such as enhanced security, efficiency, and transparency in the management of aircraft records and documents. For example, blockchain can provide a secure and tamper-proof digital record of aircraft maintenance and repair history, which can help improve safety and reduce costs. Some companies in the industry have started experimenting with the implementation of these technologies. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the FAA have also started exploring opportunities to implement this technology. Despite being in its early stages, blockchain technology has the potential to be widely adopted in the aviation industry.
11. Does the civil aviation authority in USA authorise the operation of foreign registered aircraft? If so, with which countries has USA entered into bilateral agreements on the basis of article 83-bis of the ICAO Chicago Convention for the delegation of regulatory oversight?
a. Has the United States implemented the e-Apostille program?
Yes, there are Notary and Apostille requirements in the United States, but they may not necessarily apply to electronically executed documents in the same way as paper documents. Documents signed by a U.S. federal official, or a U.S. consular officer require an apostille issued by the U.S. Department of State. Notary requirements in the United States typically involve the certification and authentication of signatures on legal documents by a notary public, and these requirements vary by state. While some states allow for electronic notarization of documents using electronic signatures and seals, others require the physical presence of the parties involved in the notarization process.
Regarding electronically executed documents, some states have enacted legislation that allows for electronic notarization and the use of electronic seals, while others may have more restrictive requirements or no laws addressing electronic notarization. Similarly, the process for obtaining an apostille for electronically executed documents may vary by state and depend on the specific requirements of the receiving country.
In the context of aviation documents, the use of electronic signatures and seals may be acceptable for certain types of documents, depending on the requirements of the FAA and other regulatory authorities. It’s important to consult with legal professionals familiar with the applicable laws and regulations to ensure compliance with all relevant requirements.
As for the e-Apostille program, the United States has implemented the e-Apostille program. The program, which is operated by the Hague Conference on Private International Law, allows for the electronic issuance of Apostilles, which are official certifications that authenticate the origin of public documents.