Under what title may aircraft in Malta be registered?
- An owner of the aircraft who operates the said aircraft;
- An owner of an aircraft under construction or temporarily not being operated or managed;
- An operator of an aircraft under a temporary title who satisfies the conditions as may be prescribed;
- A buyer of an aircraft under a conditional sale or title reservation agreement which satisfies the conditions which may be prescribed and who is authorised to operate the aircraft.
Who is eligible to register aircraft in Malta?
For any aircraft (commercial and private):
- the Government of Malta;
- citizen of Malta or a citizen of a Member State of the E.U. or of an EEA State, or Switzerland, having a place of residence or business in Malta, the E.U., the EEA, or Switzerland, including a person sharing in the ownership of such aircraft by virtue of the community of acquests subsisting between such person and a citizen as described above in whose name the aircraft is registered;
- an undertaking formed and existing in accordance with the laws of Malta, of a Member State of the E.U., of an EEA State, or of Switzerland and having its registered office, central administration and principal place of business within Malta, or the E.U., or the EEA, or Switzerland, whereof not less than 50% of the undertaking is owned and effectively controlled by the Government of Malta, or by any Member State of the E.U. or by persons referred to above, whether directly or indirectly through one or more intermediate undertakings.
All operators of aircraft engaged in commercial air transport activity are required to be in possession of an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and an Operating Licence. The Civil Aviation Directorate at the Authority for Transport in Malta has the capacity to certify operators of aircraft in accordance with Annex III to Regulation (EC) 3922/1991, as amended (EU-OPS 1).
For private aircraft:
- A natural person who is a citizen of, or an undertaking established in a member country of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and any other country approved by the Minister by notice for the purposes of the Act (termed “International Registrant” in the Act), provided it:
- has legal capacity to own / operate an aircraft in terms of law;
- appoints a local resident agent to represent the owner in Malta for matters concerning the registration of the aircraft;
- complies with applicable regulations/guidelines.
What documents are required for the registration of aircraft in Malta?
To register an aircraft, an application form must be completed and submitted to the Civil Aviation Directorate in Malta. This must be accompanied by, inter alia:
- A bill of sale or other proof of ownership of the aircraft. (Certified true copy notarized and legalized if the bill of sale has been executed outside Malta);
- A copy of the lease or operating agreement if the aircraft is leased;
- A de-registration certificate or formal notification by the civil aviation authority if the aircraft was previously registered in another state;
- A Statement on registered mortgages or similar encumbrances as the case may be;
- Power of attorney, company resolution or evidence of authority for signatory/ies of application form.
How is a Certificate of Airworthiness obtained?
The main requirements for the issue of a certificate of airworthiness are found in Annex I (Part 21) of Regulation (EU) 748/2012 on airworthiness and environmental certification of aircraft and related products.
Additionally, to obtain a certificate of airworthiness:
- The owner or operator of the aircraft must satisfy the requirements in Annex I (Part-M) to Regulation (EU) 1321/2014 on the continuing airworthiness of aircraft and aeronautical products.
- The aircraft must meet the requirements of Annex I (Part-M) to Regulation 1321/2014 for the issue/validity of an airworthiness review certificate and aircraft maintenance programme approval.
The Airworthiness Inspectorate at the Civil Aviation Directorate can also require further details, depending on the:
- Make/model of the aircraft.
- Place of importation of an aircraft.
- Particular equipment that may be installed on a particular aircraft.
How may an aircraft be secured in favour of a creditor?
In terms of Maltese law, the main security interests which may be registered over an aircraft are:
- Mortgages; and
- International interests, which are registered in the International Registry in accordance with the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment (Cape Town Convention) and the Protocol on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment (Aircraft Protocol).
It is noteworthy that international interests take priority over national mortgages and therefore creditors are advised to register their interests both in the National Register and in the International Registry.
Financing entities typically also require irrevocable deregistration and export request authorisations (IDERAs) to be issued in their favour in order to confirm that they are the sole entities authorised to deregister the aircraft from the register and export it.
How may a buyer finance the purchase of an aircraft?
Typically an aircraft is financed either by (i) a bank loan secured by a mortgage or (ii) finance lease.
In the case of a bank loan, the bank provides the required financing to purchase the aircraft and the debt is secured by virtue of a mortgage over the said aircraft in favour of the mortgagor (lender). In a finance lease scenario, the owner of the aircraft (or a financing entity that has acquired the aircraft) leases the aircraft to the lessee for a specified period of time with the option to acquire the aircraft at the end of the lease, against payment of an agreed consideration.
What documents are required for the registration of a mortgage over a Maltese aircraft?
- A mortgage form, in original, duly completed and signed by the mortgagor and attested by a witness;
- If the mortgage form is being signed by an authorised attorney in Malta, an original Power of Attorney granted by the mortgagor, duly notarised and legalised, is also required;
- A copy of corporate authorities (by way of company resolution) authorising the granting of the mortgage over the relevant Maltese aircraft and authorising the named attorney or attorneys to sign the mortgage form in Malta. On the production of a mortgage for registration in the prescribed form, the Director General shall record it in the Malta Aircraft Register.
Mortgages are recorded by the Director General in the order of time in which they are produced to him for that purpose, and the Director General will notify by hand on each mortgage that it has been recorded by him/her, stating the date and time of such record.
Can a mortgagee take possession of an aircraft in the case of a defaulting debtor?
In the case of a mortgage registered in the Malta Aircraft Register the mortgagee has the right to take possession of the aircraft and/or sell the aircraft in the event of default under any term or condition of the registered mortgage, or any agreement referred to in the mortgage. In this case, the mortgagee must give notice in writing to the debtor and does not necessarily need a court order to do so.
If an international interest is registered over an aircraft in the International Registry, then the provisions of the Cape Town Convention will prevail over Maltese legislation. A mortgagee proposing to sell (or to grant a lease over an aircraft) must give reasonable prior notice in writing (approx. ten days) of the proposed sale (or lease) to any debtor or guarantor, and any other person having rights over the aircraft object who have given notice of their rights to the chargee within a reasonable time before the sale (or lease).
Has Malta signed and ratified the Cape Town Convention?
Malta has acceded to the Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment (the “Cape Town Treaty”, or the “Treaty”) on 1st October, 2010 and these came into force in Malta on 1st February, 2011. The law implementing the Cape Town Treaty and its Aircraft Protocol is found in the First Schedule to the ARA.
The Treaty lays down rules in respect of the recognition, enforcement and priority status of interests in mobile equipment. The Treaty provides for the establishment of an international interest which is proprietary in character and which encompasses security agreements, title reservation agreements, leasing agreements and their equivalents. International Interests are registered in the International Registry, which is established under the Treaty and which is an on-line, notice based registry.
Holders of an international interest are granted extensive remedies under the Treaty in the event of the debtor’s default or insolvency. It also establishes the right for registrants of aircraft, (as debtors) to grant an Irrevocable De-Registration and Export Request Authorization (IDERA) in the prescribed form in favour of an authorised party (or its certified designee) to procure the de-registration and export of the aircraft. Where an IDERA has been issued and it has been submitted for recordation at the Civil Aviation Directorate, the Director General shall record the details of such IDERA, or any other power of attorney, irrevocable or otherwise, as the case may be.
How does de-registration of an aircraft from the Malta Aircraft Register take place?
A Maltese registered aircraft may be de-registered either by submitting the relevant application form to the Civil Aviation Directorate (subject to the consent of the mortgagee/creditor); or through an irrevocable deregistration and export request authorisation (IDERA), which is typically granted by way of security from the operator of an aircraft (and sometimes also by the owner and any other intermediate sub-lessor of the aircraft) to a secured creditor. When an IDERA has been granted, the holder of the IDERA becomes the sole person entitled to deregister and export the particular aircraft.
Upon the de-registration of an aircraft, the Civil Aviation Directorate will issue an aircraft de-registration certificate.
What is the procedure to file an irrevocable deregistration and export (IDERA) request?
An IDERA must be submitted in the prescribed format and two original copies thereof must be lodged with the Civil Aviation Directorate.
The IDERA must executed by the registrant or a person duly authorised to act for and on behalf of the registrant, or the aircraft owner. If the IDERA is executed outside Malta, the signature must be notarised and apostilled and the notary must certify that the person signing the IDERA has due authority to bind the registered owner by his/her signature.
Are foreign judgments awarded against a mortgagor enforceable under Maltese law?
A judgment awarded by a competent court outside Malta will be recognised as a valid judgment and enforceable in the courts of Malta without re-examination of the merits of any matters considered in that judgment, subject to the following:
- The recognition of EU judgments is subject to the provisions of Regulation (EC) 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels Regulation). Regulation 1215/2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Recast Brussels Regulation) applies to judgments arising out of proceedings instituted on or after 10 January 2015 (Article 66(1), Recast Brussels Regulation).
- Malta has a reciprocal enforcement agreement with the United Kingdom, but this operates in relation to money judgments only. UK money judgments are registered, on application, with the Court of Appeal in accordance with and subject to the terms of the British Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act (Cap. 52 of the Laws of Malta).
- The recognition and enforcement of judgments issued by the courts of Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland is subject to the provisions of the Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters 2007 (Lugano Convention).
- The recognition and enforcement of judgments that do not fall within the scope of EU regulations or the Lugano Convention is subject to Maltese law. A foreign judgment will be registered or confirmed in Malta, provided that the judgment:
- does not contain dispositions contrary to public policy; and
- cannot be set aside on any of the grounds for re-trial under the law of Malta on civil procedure.