Filing Aircraft Registration Documents With The FAA Registry During The COVID-19 Pandemic: What You Need To Know

NAFA member, Greg Reigel, Partner with Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP, discusses filing documents with the FAA Registry during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

In another instance of a “new-normal” resulting from COVID-19, the window at the FAA Registry, where real-time filing of aircraft registration documents used to occur, has closed.  Although the FAA Registry is still open (for now), it has implemented new procedures for filing of aircraft registration documents.  Three options are now available for recording documents:

Document Drop Bins.

The FAA has placed two bins outside the Public Documents room.   One bin will be marked “Priority” and one bin will be for “Normal” processing (i.e. not priority).  The FAA will retrieve documents from the Priority Bin every hour. It will retrieve documents submitted for normal processing twice a day.

Documents are filed when they are placed in one of the bins. However, will not be possible to obtain an immediate filing time for the documents as was the case in the past.  Actual filing times will only be available after the documents are indexed in, scanned and available for viewing online.  It is presently unclear how long that process will take.

E-Mail Filing To An Electronic Portal.

The FAA has a new e-mail filing process available subject to a number of limitations. Submitted documents must be digitally signed (i.e. Docusign, Adobe Sign, etc.) and each document must be 20 pages or less. Only one aircraft may be submitted in each e-mail and filing fees must be pre-paid at Pay.gov.

After submission, FAA will send an e-mail acknowledging receipt.  However, documents will be processed during normal business hours with filing times available the same as when documents are filed via the bins.

Filing Via Mail.

As has always been the case, documents can still be filed via U.S. Mail, FedEx and UPS. And similar to the bin and e-mail filing, actual filing times will only be available once the documents are processed and in the FAA Registry’s system.

These new processes will also impact timing for receiving a “fly-wire” and for receiving Form 135 needed to accomplish International Registry filings.  But it is unclear how much longer it will take to receive these back from the FAA.

Conclusion.

The good news:  The FAA Registry is still open and processing aircraft registration documents (for now). The bad news:  These updated procedures will result in some delays in closing transactions, and a little less certainty regarding when documents were actually “filed” by the FAA. For example, in a transaction transferring risk of loss at the time of filing, that could present a problem.

Parties to aircraft transactions should review their documents to determine whether they are consistent with the new procedures. If they aren’t, parties should amend as needed.

This article was originally published by Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP. on March 23, 2020.