The Malta Aircraft Registration Act provides for the innovative concept of the registration of aircraft under construction. Such can be registered so long as such aircraft is uniquely identifiable.
The Malta Aircraft Registration Act endeavors to limit nationality and form requirements in order to make the register accessible to as many owners and operators as possible, while ensuring that the register is not open to anyone and everyone.
To this effect the Malta Aircraft Registration Act prescribes those persons who are qualified to register an Aircraft whether used for the provision of air services or otherwise. These include:
- Citizens of Malta who have approved residence in Malta and citizens of Member States of the European Union, EEA State or Switzerland. Such individuals must have a place of residence or business in Malta, the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland;
- An undertaking formed and existing in accordance with the laws in Malta, a Member State of the European Union, the EEA or Switzerland. In terms of the Malta Aircraft Registration Act, the undertaking must have its registered office, central administration and principal place of business within Malta, the EU, the EEA or Switzerland, whereof not less than 50% of the undertaking is owned and effectively controlled by the Government of Malta or by the Government of any other State of the EU, or by the persons abovementioned in paragraph (a), this requirement ought to be present indirectly or directly through one or more intermediate undertakings.
In accordance with the Malta Aircraft Registration Act, a natural person who does not qualify under paragraphs (a) and (b) above, but is a citizen of or an undertaking established in an approved jurisdiction shall be qualified to register aircraft in construction or one which is not used to provide an air service. This delineates the legislator’s intent to widen the scope of the Malta Aircraft Registration Act and consequently expand the range of those who could register under this law. This extends the possibilities for those owners of aircraft who will be using their aircraft for private use and not for hire or reward as prescribed by the pertinent legislation.
The Use of Trusts and Fractional Ownership
The Malta Aircraft Registration Act ensures that when there is a trust relation and the Director General is to "look through" to the identity of the underlying beneficiaries, procedures will be implemented to safeguard the confidentiality of the trust arrangement in line with the principles governing trust law. In this manner, an obligation is imposed on the Director General to ensure that the disclosure for the purpose of Malta aircraft registration does not negatively affect the operation of the trust and its inherent confidential nature.
The new Malta Aircraft Registration Act acknowledges the benefits that will result from the employment of trusts in this field, and specific mention is made of fractional ownership and trusts which could be employed when the ownership/use interests of a plurality of persons (legal or natural) is to be regulated in relation to an asset, the aircraft, by interposing a trust relation. Thus, provision for regulation and co-ordination of the beneficiaries’ rights and interests will be made in the trust deed, which can provide for innumerable arrangements, in line with the contingencies of the case at hand.
The Maltese Aircraft Registration Act ensures that the existence of the trustee, being the registered owner of the aircraft, in favour of the determined beneficiaries (in a fixed trust scenario) or for the benefit of determinable beneficiaries (in a discretionary trust scenario) allows the arrangement to operate in a more streamlined manner whilst permitting the rights of the beneficiaries to be enforced against the trustee in case of default, thus protecting the beneficiaries who would be the stakeholders in this arrangement.