Four Common Mistakes That Can Delay Your Aircraft Purchase: Ways To Keep Headaches To a Minimum see more
NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, shares tips for making sure your aircraft purchase goes smoothly.
You found the right airplane for your mission; you have a lender and now you are days away from your final goal—landing the aircraft of your dreams. Out of nowhere, you get a phone call from the lender. A last-minute mix-up now threatens to stall or upend the deal. What happened? Here are four common trip-ups:
1. Last-minute ideas
Did you change your mind midway through the deal regarding how you wish the airplane to be owned, or how the airplane will be used? One of the biggest delays comes from buyers who suddenly decide their airplane should not be personally owned but instead owned by an LLC.
First, you’ve now altered the financial picture from which the lender is basing the parameters of the loan. Second, you’ve just added complexity to the deal. Complexity adds time. Third, an aviation LLC is different than other LLCs. The nuances are significant enough for us to suggest you contact AOPA Legal, or an aviation attorney before initiating the paperwork.
2. Title issues
Did you forget to order a title search from a reputable title company? Missing logbook signatures, an unqualified person making a logbook signoff, the presence of a heretofore unseen lien are all examples of items that can put a “cloud” on a title. Before the title can be cleared, a title company must do due diligence.
3. Pre-buy inspection
What could possibly go wrong with a pre-buy inspection? How about the aircraft is stuck overseas? How about a dispute between the seller and buyer as to where the pre-buy will occur? How about a pandemic that shuts down business operations and air travel for an unspecified amount of time? From the mundane to the previously unimaginable, myriad things can affect the pre-buy. That’s why a Pre-purchase Agreement is vital. In it, all the parameters of a pre-buy are codified and agreed to prior to, hopefully mitigating as many possible obstructive circumstances as possible.
Even with that, the pre-buy inspection will invariably uncover some addressable item. That item’s resolution will then have to be negotiated into the price if it’s not an airworthy item, or fixed and inspected prior to, if it is an airworthy item.
Illegible logbook documentation, missing paperwork, documents missing a notary’s required imprint— are a partial list of paperwork problems that could slow the closing process. AOPA Aviation Finance can help build a paperwork checklist early that will help prevent this pitfall.
This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on November 23, 2020.
NAFA Webinar: Bringing Title and Registration Into the 21st Century see more
The FAA is updating and modernizing its title and registration system in accordance with the GAO report, but how much do you know about what changes are actually being made and how those changes might affect your business operations, costs, and registration systems.
What issues might arise from a newer, more modern electronic filing system and digital signatures? What is the difference between digital and electronic signatures, and what position is the FAA taking on this in the modernization process.
And what about GATS? What is it and how does it fit into the new modernization system?
Watch our webinar to learn more about everything that is happening to bring Title and Registration Procedures into the 21st Century.
Meet our Moderator and Panelists:
Ford von Weise, Director & Head - Global Aircraft Finance & Aircraft Advisory Services, Citi Private Bank (Moderator)
Scott McCreary, Shareholder, Director, McAfee & Taft
Debbie Mercer-Erwin, President of Wright Brothers Aircraft Title
Jeff Towers, VP & General Counsel for TVPX
Ed Kammerer, Shareholder for Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Webinar slides can be viewed here.This NAFA webinar originally aired on November 10, 2020.
Keeping the Title Clear on Your Aircraft see more
NAFA member, Amanda Applegate, Partner with Aerlex Law Group, discusses keeping your aircraft title clear.
As an aircraft owner, it is important to make sure the title to your aircraft remains clear. Unlike some other countries, in the United States we have an owner based registry where liens can be filed on the aircraft by anyone. Since a notice of a lien can be sent to the FAA Civil Aviation Registry (the “Registry”) without the knowledge of the aircraft owner, sometimes these filings create valid liens on the aircraft and other times a cloud on the title is created by these filings. It is a good idea to have a title search of the Registry and, if applicable, the International Registry, done annually to make sure there are not any issues with the title of your aircraft. If this annual review is not done, then at the very least title searches for your Aircraft should be done when the decision is made to market the aircraft for sale. By conducting the searches prior to finding a buyer for the aircraft, if it is discovered that there are encumbrances/liens which have attached to the aircraft or clouded the title, that have not been properly released, then such encumbrances/liens can be addressed early in the sales process.
I recently worked on a transaction where at the time of the purchase the aircraft the owner had financed the aircraft. Subsequently the loan was paid off but the lien release was never filed with the Registry. Ten years later during the process to sell the aircraft, the lien was discovered. To further complicate matters, the lender was no longer in business. A simple title search run annually or even every other year could have caught this issue much sooner and made the time to research and resolve the lien easier and less costly. In another recent transaction the aircraft owner discovered that there were five liens on the aircraft because the management company for the aircraft failed to pay for maintenance that was performed on the aircraft prior to the management company going out of business. The owner of that aircraft did not know of the liens until the aircraft was under contract to be sold and the escrow company, as part of the sale process, performed the title searches on the Registry. Having to track down five lienholders in a short timeframe in order to avoid the sale from being delayed added unnecessary stress to the closing.
There are many great escrow companies, in Oklahoma City, where the Registry is located. The escrow companies will perform the searches on the Registry for a few hundred dollars. In order to perform the searches, the escrow agent simply needs to know the make, model and serial numbers of the airframe, engine(s) and propellers (if applicable).
In addition to liens filed on the Registry, an international interest can also be registered on the airframe or engines of an aircraft of a certain size on the International Registry that exists as a result of the Cape Town Treaty, which the United States is a signatory. However, the International Registry is a two- party system and requires consent from the aircraft owner before the international interest is registered against the aircraft. As a result, it is less likely that an international interest will attach to the aircraft without the knowledge of the aircraft owner. However, when an aircraft loan is paid off, the aircraft owner should request post-closing International Registry searches evidencing the discharge of the international interest.
In short, for a bit of annual work at a nominal cost, an aircraft owner should conduct annual searches at the Registry to ensure that the aircraft title remains clear of any unknown or unwarranted liens or encumbrances that have attached to the title or are clouding title of the aircraft. For various reasons, this will save the aircraft owner headaches in the future when the aircraft is sold.
This article was originally published by Aerlex Law Group in Articles, BusinessAir Magazine, The Latest, on August 4, 2020.
Using Digital Signatures in Aircraft Title & Registration see more
NAFA member, Debbie Mercer-Erwin, President of Wright Brothers Aircraft Title, discusses the use of digital signatures in the aircraft title and registration process.
It is an exciting topic and a fundamental priority for Wright Brothers Aircraft Title (WBAT) to stay current with technology, especially when it has the potential to increase efficiency and security in our services, as well as help reduce time and cost in transactions for our clients. We are always looking forward to how our company could put certain applications to use, even Blockchain in Aviation Escrow Transactions. For this month’s topic, we don’t have to guess though.
One huge hindrance to efficiency in aircraft title registration is the paperwork involved – handling and distributing numerous paper documents between multiple parties, whether in the United States or internationally. Printing, signing, mailing – more than once if corrections are needed, let alone if the documents are lost in the mail altogether – is enormously time-consuming.
WBAT wanted to find a way to streamline certain processes and reduce our amount of paperwork, while maintaining a high level of security – to save time and money within our business and for our clients. We were immediately interested in the use of Digital Signatures, which is a specific implementation of an electronic signature (eSignature).
The US Federal ESIGN Act defines an eSignature as “an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record”. A Digital Signature takes this a bit further with the addition of encryption/decryption technology – securing the data associated with an electronically signed document and creating a robust audit trail.
Digital Signatures have been used for electronically signing an array of documents – sales contracts, offer letters, lease agreements, liability waivers, financial documents, etc. – and are legally enforceable in most business transactions throughout most of the world.
We needed to make sure this solution would work with multiple signers on complex documents though and be compliant with the Federal Aviation Authority guidelines, including their Notice of Policy Clarification for Acceptance of Documents With Digital Signatures (81 FR 23384), which requires Digital Signatures – traceable and digitally encrypted – not just eSignatures.
DocuSign was the clear answer for our business – meeting some of the most stringent US, EU, and global security standards, and using the strongest data encryption technologies available. It also happens to be the leading eSignature brand, with the ability to:
- Easily upload and send documents for signing
- Sign at any time, on a wide variety of devices, from nearly anywhere
- Check signing status and send reminders to keep things moving forward
This software has enabled us to get agreements done faster with fewer errors, which directly translates to lower cost, for our business and our clients. We’ve accomplished this with using Digital Signatures mainly for Bill of Sale and Application for Registration documents, which directly benefits our buyers and sellers.
There are more benefits on the horizon though with more widespread use of this technology. With more lenders in the industry using Digital Signatures, it might not even be necessary to presign a release of the lien. Instead, the involved parties would digitally sign at closing when money is distributed, reducing the risk for all.
We’re excited to see where this technology takes us and the aviation finance industry. In the meantime, we’re thrilled with the results we’ve already seen and the time and cost savings we’re able to pass down to our clients.
This article was originally published by Wright Brothers Aircraft Title on September 16, 2019.
Airplane Acquisition Checklist Series: Part Two: Purchase and Delivery see more
NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, follows up with part two of the Airplane Acquisition Checklist covering Purchase and Delivery.
In Part 1 of this series on airplane acquisition, we discussed the most efficient way to approach buying an aircraft by using three checklists—Pre-purchase, Purchase and Aircraft Delivery. We also detailed the Pre-purchase Checklist.
You're now staring at your ideal airplane on your screen. Time to run the Purchase Checklist:
- Escrow, Letter of Intent and Purchase Agreement
- Notify Lender
- Pre-purchase Inspection
- International Registry (if applicable)
- Title Search and Background Checks
Escrow, Letter of Intent and Purchase Agreement. Escrow appears in all three checklists. Before it was a reminder to get your down payment together. Now it triggers you to move money into an escrow account that you set up through your escrow agent. If you're unfamiliar, AOPA has a strategic partnership with Aerospace Reports and as a member you’ll get discounted pricing and we can help get things set up. Likewise, if you’re working with another escrow company AOPA Finance can help coordinate that too. Plan on a deposit of 5%-10% of the aircraft's asking price.
The letter of intent puts a clock on the deal, enables you to withdraw from it without penalty under certain conditions you and the seller negotiate, and establishes the parameters for the final price.
This is also time to have your aviation attorney to draw up a detailed purchase agreement. If you don't have one, AOPA has a sample purchase agreement you can view here. You may want to consider signing up for Pilot Protection Services which includes consultation with an attorney regarding your purchase of an aircraft specific to your state and the legal requirements there. What it covers includes, but is not limited to, purchase amount, refund terms, deadlines for the process, representations and warranties, even the location of aircraft delivery.
Notify Lender. The sooner you notify the lender, the sooner the lender can convert the pre-approval into an approval. Your lender will conduct background checks, damage history queries, etc. If the aircraft is missing logbooks, that may affect the stipulations of the pre-approval with the lender. Each has a set of tolerances for missing logbooks. Ask before you commit to a particular lender. AOPA Finance may be able to help.
Pre-purchase Inspection. Even before you go to the airplane, have the logbooks sent to you. Nowadays, most sellers have their airframe and engine logbooks scanned into PDF format for ease of emailing. Get your mechanic started perusing those logs. You and your lender will want to know whether the logbooks are complete as soon as possible. An incomplete set can frequently impact the final price, and it may also affect the plane's insurability.
In most instances, it's best that a mechanic other than the regular mechanic for that airplane perform the pre-purchase inspection. That may mean flying your assigned A&P to the airplane's location, with a hotel stay.
International Registry. If your plane is subject to the Cape Town Treaty (see here for more info), you should begin the International Registry process simultaneously with contacting your escrow agent. It's complex and time-consuming and may affect the timing of your closing date. Subject to some exceptions, an aircraft must be registered with an appropriate aviation authority before it can be legally operated in any country. Suffice it to say, better to have your team of experts handle this checklist item.
Insurance. As far as your lender is concerned, typically, they’ll require you to maintain full ground and flight insurance, as well as "Breach of Warranty Coverage" for the amount of the loan with a carrier acceptable to the lender.
The lender must be named as "loss payee" and be protected by a "lien holder's endorsement." Once you have been placed with the appropriate lender, we will send you the specific insurance requirements for that lender.
Title Search and Background Checks. Usually, this will be a straightforward process. If a plane has been in an incident, involved in an estate dispute or part of a bankruptcy, though, then things could get complicated. Your prospective insurer, your lender and your escrow agent may all play a part in these searches and checks. We've heard too many stories of airplane deals falling through at the last minute because of lack of due diligence by the buyer, so be thorough.
All that complete, what's left is to take delivery. There's one last checklist to run—the Aircraft Delivery Checklist:
- Punch List
- Technical Acceptance
- Closing and Delivery
Punch List. Here's where the due diligence of your title, escrow or insurance representatives pays off. They'll work with you to clear up any liens or estate claims. Similarly, the list of deficiencies and discrepancies your mechanic delivered will have been either rectified or negotiated into a lower price.
Technical Acceptance. Once the Punch List is complete, the buyer then executes and delivers a Technical Acceptance Certificate to the seller. This says the buyer accepts the condition of the aircraft, subject to "no material damage and/or total loss affecting the aircraft upon or prior to arrival of the aircraft at the delivery location." The deposit usually becomes non-refundable at this stage.
Escrow. The remaining purchase price is deposited into the escrow account, and the seller is paid.
Closing and Delivery. The title is transferred and the aircraft is registered to the new owner, once the new owner insures it. Finally, the aircraft is turned over or delivered to you. Congratulations.
Considering aircraft ownership? AOPA Aviation Finance will make your purchase experience as smooth as possible. For information about aircraft financing, please visit the website (www.aopafinance.com) or call 1-800-62-PLANE (75263).
This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on March 5, 2019.
VREF Aircraft Reference Value & Appraisal Services Announces Partnership with AIC Title Service for VREF Verified Reports.VREF Aircraft Reference Value & Appraisal Services announces Partnership with AIC Title Service see more
VREF Aircraft Reference Value & Appraisal Services, the leading provider of aircraft valuations, celebrates its 25th Anniversary by announcing a strategic partnership with AIC Title Service (AIC).
VREF and AIC are excited to be offering a comprehensive report that includes both an aircraft’s value statement as well as its title records.
VREF Verified Reports provide buyers and sellers of aircrafts with a comprehensive report that features critical information on the value of a specific aircraft by equipment and serial number. Now, thanks to its partnership with AIC, these reports will also include airframe title, including 337’s, along with engine and propeller searches to produce one report with VREF .
“We couldn’t be more excited about the collaboration with AIC for the creation of our reports. It is a win-win for aviation, and AIC has proven itself to be a leader in implementing technology to support its products, services and clients,” said Jason Zilberbrand, VREF President and CTO. “This partnership will allow for a seamless integration into VREF’s new platform, which is in current development.”
“VREF Verified Reports has long been known in the industry as the ‘CarFax’ of aviation,” said Clay Healey, President of AIC Title Services. “We are proud to partner with VREF to provide our customers a one stop shop to find the values of an aircraft and its equipment, as well as its title records, including 337s.”
VREF Verified reports are available today direct from both VREF and AIC Title Services’ websites as well as numerous resellers including AOPA, air.one and Primary Flight Controls.
VREF is the Official Valuation Guide for the AOPA.
VREF –Aviation’s Most Trusted Valuation Guide offers its real-time valuation tool Aircraft online via subscription as well as Fully Comprehensive Appraisal Services by ASA’s and the VREF Verified “Carfax” Report.
For further enquiries or interviews please contact the VREF team. E: email@example.com
About AIC Title Service
AIC Title Service is one of the most innovative and technologically-advanced aviation service providers in the industry. AIC is the global industry leader in aviation Title Services, Escrow, Document Filing, Lien Clearance, and International Registry filings. AIC is the exclusive provider of title searches for AvSure, easing client access to aviation title insurance both domestically and internationally. Customers can request title searches online, and complete escrow transactions all within the Aircraft Closing RoomTM, the only virtual aircraft closing platform in the industry. Additionally, the Closing RoomTM is protected by Blockchain, making AIC’s customer data the most secure in the industry. AIC's team of 40+ employees boasts over 600 years of aviation experience and completes over 15,000 title searches and 4,000 closings annually. AIC makes aircraft transactions seem simple.
For further enquiries or interviews please contact the AIC Title team. E:firstname.lastname@example.org