Aviation law in the United States involves a complex matrix of legal requirements that affect aircraft ownership, use and financing, including those that (i) generally limit the federal registration of aircraft to individuals and entities that meet specially defined U.S. citizenship requirements, (ii) generally prohibit reimbursement or benefits of any kind to an aircraft operator, even from affiliates, where the operator does not hold a Part 135 certificate and operate in accordance with related operating limitations, and (iii) carry federal income tax, and state and local sales, use and property tax, implications that can significantly affect the cost of aircraft ownership. Careful structuring and advice in these areas can help to avoid unnecessary operating costs, as well as avoid potentially heavy fines.

Locke Lord has extensive experience in all aspects of business aircraft, including acquisitions, sales, financings, leases, tax-free exchanges (now for state sales tax purposes only), ownership, management and operational arrangements and structures, ancillary agreements, FAA regulatory issues, methods of U.S. aircraft registration for non-U.S. citizens, and aircraft-related federal, state and local tax issues. Our clients in this area include large publicly-traded corporations, as well as private corporations, limited liability companies and other types of entities, family offices, and individuals, who recognize the time savings and convenience that an ownership interest in an aircraft can achieve. Our experience includes:

  • Buying, selling, financing and registering corporate aircraft of all sizes
  • Leasing (capital leases, synthetic leases, operating leases, and dry leases) of aircraft
  • Significantly reducing sales/use taxes and ad valorem taxes through the use of appropriate vehicles and structuring
  • Dealing with the myriad of competing considerations in Part 91/Part 135 compliance
  • Establishing time-sharing and joint ownership agreements
  • Participating in fractional interest programs
  • Importing aircraft
  • Negotiating management, consulting, service and brokerage agreements, hangar and facilities leases, fuel contracts, and other ancillary contracts