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  ''The Cayman Islands Aircraft Registry caters to aircraft of all kinds whether operated privately or for commercial air transport (CAT).''

An Interview with Richard Smith
Director-General, Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands

Our special interview with RICHARD SMITH, director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands, profiles the registry of choice for corporate aircraft that is located in the British Overseas Territory, as Executive Global sit down with the regulatory organisation responsible for safety oversight and economic regulation of the aviation industry throughout the Cayman Islands.

Executive Global: What kinds of aircraft can be registered in the Cayman Islands?

Richard Smith: SERVICE: The Cayman Islands Aircraft Registry caters to aircraft of all kinds whether operated privately or for commercial air transport (CAT).  This includes aircraft of all types locally based in the Cayman Islands, and aircraft of restricted weight categories based offshore.While the majority of offshore based aircraft are operated in the private category for individual owners and corporations, there is a growing number of aircraft registered for CAT operations offshore under a Cayman Islands Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC).

There is also significant growth in the registration of Lessor owned aircraft seeking to place aircraft on a Register with credibility for a high level of safety oversight whilst in transition to new commercial leases and can also efficiently facilitate the export transition processes.


WEIGHT: As a general policy, aircraft based offshore shall have a MTOW of 12500Lbs/5700kgs and above to be accepted for registration. Exceptions to this weight policy are considered and are based on generality of interests to aviation on the register in respect of modern light turbojet, turboprop aircraft and helicopters based on Cayman Islands registered yachts.

AGE: There is no set age restriction. However, for aircraft 20 years and older, prior to a Registration Application being submitted for acceptance, applicants within this category are requested to enquire with regards to the suitability of the aircraft to the CIAR and will be required to present technical documents supporting the continued airworthiness of the aircraft.

EG: What are some of the ways you can assist financiers who are providing financing for Cayman registered aircraft?

When an aircraft is financed and there is a mortgage attached, the mortgage can be registered on the Cayman Islands Register of Aircraft Mortgages under The Mortgaging of Aircraft Regulations, 2015. Additionally, the Cape Town Convention was ratified by the UK in July 2015, and enacted in the Cayman Islands on 1 November 2015.

The Cayman Islands government passed enabling legislation entitling the Cayman Islands to international recognition as a territorial unit of a contracting state to the Cape Town Convention. Financiers can opt for the protections available under the dual mortgage registration regime and make filings relating to mortgages under the Cape Town Convention as well as register the mortgages in the mortgage register maintained by the CAACI.

EG: Tell us about some of the solutions you have available for aircraft leasing companies? 

RS: The CAACI offers innovative solutions to lessors and financiers requiring a reputable register to facilitate the temporary registration of aircraft, which are between leases or which have been repossessed, and have introduced material processes, online portals, bespoke products all specifically designed to support the interests of aircraft lessors. The CAACI is working to establish long term relationships with lessors that will provide ready solutions where aircraft registration support is required beyond the registration process.

The CAACI will facilitate the temporary registration of an aircraft on the CIAR until the lessor or financier is ready to return the aircraft to operational service, sale, storage or otherwise. Many lessors welcome this offering as an attractive option to protect their asset and to ensure that the aircraft is maintained and its certificates kept up to date, thereby preserving the value of the asset. Such a process also ensures a smooth and efficient deregistration and export.


EG: Can you inform us of the operational requirements for a Cayman Islands registered aircraft?

Prior to placing an aircraft on the Cayman Register, the CAACI must be satisfied that flight operations will be conducted in a manner consistent with internationally recognised safety standards and the Overseas Territories Aviation Requirements (OTAR) that requires operators to have an approved Operations Manual and a Safety Management System (SMS).

Cayman Islands registered aircraft are required by law to obtain a class 6 radio License in respect of the communication transceivers installed in the aircraft. Pilots are required to hold a Flight Crew Licence issued by the CAACI with the appropriate endorsement for aircraft type and class.
Alternatively, if the aircraft is operated privately under OTAR Part 125, the aircraft operator may apply to have the existing Flight Crew License(s) issued by an ICAO Contracting State validated by the CAACI.

EG: And how may being outside of the EU VAT and customs territory provide additional benefits to aircraft owners?

RS: We are not aware of any tax benefits to aircraft owners being outside of the EU VAT Customs territory.

EG: What are some of the ways in which the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands strives to be a leading innovator in your approach to aviation safety regulation?

RS: All aircraft registered in the Cayman Islands are required to have a functioning and effective Safety Management System (SMS) to mitigate risks and continuously improve on overall safety.

The CAACI provides a bespoke electronic document management system – ‘VP-C Online’ – which electronically manages all aircraft registration applications, certificates and authorisations. The system facilitates security and efficiency for the application and issuance of aircraft registrations and continuing airworthiness, and other required approvals. This system streamlines processes within the CAACI and allows licensed users access to their aircraft’s documents around the clock to meet operational requirements in a timely manner.

The focus on quality service, and flexibility positions the CAACI and the CIAR to continue to distinguish the Cayman Islands’ aviation regulatory and registration offerings from others. We are also committed to offering a personal, responsive and high-quality service to clients and partners to finding innovative solutions to satisfy compliance with safety regulatory requirements.

EG: The Cayman Islands Aircraft Registry is highly respected and recognised throughout the aviation industry. What impact has your stable legal and political environment had?

The Cayman Islands provides a safe, stable and ‘friendly flag’ jurisdiction for registration of aircraft and boasts a highly developed and  respected legal system for perfecting security over aircraft. The requirements for aircraft registration and aircraft mortgages within the British legal system based on English common law appeals to aircraft owners and financiers alike.   EG

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