Low profile boosts aircraft registry
International terrorism could boost Bermuda’s aircraft registry.
Julie McLean, a director at law firm Conyers Dill & Pearman and an expert in the area, said that the island’s registration marks were seen as neutral and “low profile”, while also recognised as high standard and internationally accepted for both commercial and private aircraft.
She said: “Any time you see an N registration mark, you know the aircraft is registered in the United States. In certain jurisdictions now, Americans are not looked at that favourably.
“A Bermuda registration is seen as being less obvious — that’s seen as something which is positive.”
Ms McLean added that many jurisdictions maintained a log of registrations, which was easily accessible, plus flight details, while the Bermuda registry was not available to the public.
She said: “In certain jurisdictions, you can go on to the internet and you can get all the information about who owns the aircraft.
“If you are a high-net-worth individual worried about kidnapping, you wouldn’t necessarily want that known. It’s seen as a positive in that regard as well.”
Ms McLean was speaking after prestige London magazine The Lawyer published an article by her on the advantages of registering aircraft on the island.
She said there were around 770 aircraft registered with Bermuda’s VP-B and VQ-B marks, with 135 of those registered private aircraft.
Ms McLean added: “In today’s world, privacy and security can be critical to the safety of the individuals concerned.
“The ability of a third party in the public domain to find out who owns an aircraft, when it is in flight and its flight path can cause security concerns.”
And she said: “In Bermuda the name of the company in which the aircraft is registered only appears on the certificate of registration, however this information is not publicly available on the Bermuda Department of Civil Aviation website.
“The Bermuda register and the certificate of registration issued in respect of the aircraft will record certain descriptive particulars relating to the aircraft, the date of its registration and the name of the company in which the aircraft is registered.
“All other records relating to the owner and the aircraft are treated in confidence by the BDCA.”
Ms McLean said that the biggest growth in registrations in recent years had come from Russia and former republics of the Soviet Union.
She explained that lenders for aircraft purchases were more comfortable with a stable legal system and financial regulation of Bermuda compared to other jurisdictions.
Ms McLean added that aircraft maintenance logs for Bermuda aircraft were in English, which helped with resale value.
She said: “In English, everybody understands them and they are recognised as of good quality, especially from somewhere like the Bermuda aircraft register, which is recognised for the safety and maintenance standards it imposes.”
Ms McLean added that Bermuda in many cases exceeded risk thresholds for international financiers, who wanted their assets to be based in well-recognised and respected jurisdictions, with clear and longstanding ownership rights based on common law principles, no matter where the asset was actually based.
She said: “The legal framework of Bermuda is based upon the common law and as such is known, stable and consistent. The highest court of appeal in Bermuda is the judicial committee of the UK Privy Council.”
Ms McLean said that the Cape Town Convention, designed to provide an international legal framework for the financing and leasing of items like aircraft and aircraft parts like engines and airframes, and yesterday passed by the Senate, would help Bermuda remain a high flyer in the aircraft world.
She explained: “It means Bermuda will continue to be used as a centre for financing. For big banks, they want the certainty about their financial interests that comes with the Cape Town Convention.
“There are 71 signatories to the convention — if we weren’t party to it, it would be seen as a disadvantage compared to other jurisdictions.”
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