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Re-registering aircraft

Does anyone have experience of re-registering a foreign registration (e.g. N reg) to a European national registration (e.g. G reg), and the costs? In the UK a number of people have said that the cost is about £10,000, and the older the aircraft, the more expensive it is. I am advised that the re-registration process is not just a paperwork exercise, it is also a phsyical inspection and an exhaustive historical review of the paperword to check all AD's etc have been complied with - hence the quite steep cost.

We're looking at the cost of this as an insurance against Europe trying to outlaw N reg's in years to come.

An overreaction ? They don't seem to want to outlaw them just possibly impose new rules on owners/operators. Still can't see any reason to change reg of aircraft.

EGTK Oxford

N-regs will very certainly not be outlawed.

Mainz (EDFZ), Germany

We're looking at the cost of this as an insurance against Europe trying to outlaw N reg's in years to come.

The chances of this (i.e. long term parking limits on foreign regs) happening are currently looking like zero.

The UK and France proposed this in 2004/2005 and dropped it, when it was realised it would be unworkable, not least due to trivial workarounds like rendering the aircraft unairworthy while parked (and I am sure the Italian pilots will think of some more to avoid that stupid tax).

EASA had a chance to do it but instead brought in the need for dual pilot papers, which will substantially reduce the growth in the purely private owner-flown N-reg community, most of whom did it for the FAA IR or the FAA medical. The former ones will have to do the EASA IR (which is what I did as an insurance policy) and the latter ones are grounded (unless their national CAA offers them some under the table concession) or will fly IFR illegally which is easy once you know the "protocol", especially if you file Z or Y flight plans. Most of the bigger players will set up a non-EU based "operator".

A registry transfer involves an Export CofA (unless you have special means which is possible on a TB20 for example) which is basically a full Annual inspection but the whole aircraft is checked against the maintenance records and checked against acceptance criteria of the accepting State. My G to N transfer (much of that is relevant to N to G too) cost the bigger part of £10k and could have been much worse. N to G is generally worse due to various anal criteria of the UK CAA, and some mods may have to be recertified (nice work for an EASA 21 Company) or ripped out.

My advice, FWIW, is to absolutely not even think about it. If EASA did introduce long term parking limits (which is equivalent to dragging the EU down to the level of the Peoples' Republic of Upper Volta in terms of civilised behaviour w.r.t. ICAO) and actually managed to introduce an effective inspection and enforcement framework for it, then you do it.

Never act out of fear. This business is packed to the brim with dickheads who want to make themselves important by spreading FUD. A lot of them are owners/instructors from FTOs and others who think they will make a fast buck out of shafting the high-end private pilot community. A lot of them are just envious that somebody managed to achieve something they haven't (a particularly UK pastime ). I know of a bloke who went N-reg (to get the FAA IR) which was possibly 10k, then read of the UK DfT long term parking limit proposal in 2005, so he chucked it all away (before doing the IR) and went back to G (possibly 10k), and last time I heard he is nearly 10 years older, nearly 10 years closer to being dead (obviously), and because he couldn't/wouldn't do the JAA IR he is still shafted into pottering around Europe VFR. I went through the same thought process commencing 2003/2004 and having got the FAA IR in 2006 I've had nearly 7 years of fantastic flying around Europe. I bought my JAA IR insurance a year ago but actually I didn't have to do anything at all till 2014 or 2015.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peters response basically nails it. I went from G to N, in 2010, mainly because of STC restrictions for mods I wanted to do, and also upgrade status for my aeroplane, a Beech Bonanza. I also had numerous issues with poor maintenance and frankly, the CAA LAMS PartM, nonsense, is precisely that. I have never looked back, although the process was far from easy, and costly.

The transfer issues stemmed from poor paperwork, shoddy workmanship, under the the UK CAA, maintenance regimes, I could go on for hours, but will spare you the pain.

I fly under dual papers, my maintenance log history is now, perfect, and I have just spent the last few months, effectively zero timing my engine firewall forward, all parts.I am now with a maintenance organisation that fully understands both the admin systems, and my particular aeroplane. I was also hanging around for decisions on IR licences, but am now going down the FAA IR route.

It was the best move I have ever made, and would advise, if on N, do nothing.

As an aside, I have an e mail from a particularly obnoxious CAA inspector, Newcastle based, hint..., who during my transfer process accused me of skirting on cost, skirting safety issues, and by trying to circumvent the UK's, EASA, world leading GA maintenance process. Also the past issues I had with UK maintenance and correct log procedures all became my fault, my issue, as the owner/operator.

Please do not transfer from N to G. If I was ever forced to do it, I would go back to gliding.

Fly safe. I want this thing to land l...
EGPF Glasgow

Thanks everyone for their responses and your experiences.

I asked the question following a conversation with one of my plane-share colleauges last night and he 'heard' from an FAA associated avionincs engineer that the future for N reg was pretty gloomy in a few years time. It seems either the avionincs engineer, or my colleauge were perhaps a bit too excited about this topic and over dramaticised it (a chinese wispers scenario I expect). Were looking at the sale of our aircraft in a year or so and wer'e considering the value of it on the N register. Even if there were issues, one would never reap back the tranfer costs on a relatively old (but nice) PA28. We shall chill out on this issue then :-)

he 'heard' from an FAA associated avionics engineer that the future for N reg was pretty gloomy in a few years time

To be fair to him, it is pretty hard to have even half a clue about what is going on.

The average EASA document is about 500 pages and only the most desperate people are actually going to read them. Most interested parties (e.g. me) just read a few pages that might affect them directly.

The online aviation communities have covered the various topics reasonably well over the years - if one kept tabs on it continuously - but most people with a life don't spend their life on the internet.

This is one reason why EuroGA was set up: to create and maintain awareness of issues like this.

On a funny note, I wonder what an "FAA associated avionics engineer" is? There is no such post that I know of, in the GA arena.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Thanks, I can imagine it is one hell of a minefield :-(

On a funny note, I wonder what an "FAA associated avionics engineer" is? There is no such post that I know of, in the GA arena.

That was my made up title for a man I have never met but my friend tells me is an avionics engineer and he is authorised (?) to work on, and sign off avionics equipment on N reg's, in a similar way that some mechanical engineers can sign off work on N reg's from a maintenance point of view. My discussion last night was one of those half-conversations you get when you walk past someone in the opposite direction and stop briefly for a chat, so I didnt quite get a full sense who his FAA friend was.

Just a reminder I am sure you all know about. It used to be once you registered your N number aircraft, you were done. The current regulations require re-registration every three years with an initial re-registration for all N number aircraft over the period Nov 1, 2010 thru Oct 31, 2013 on a schedule determined by the month of the year on the current registration. The schedule and details can be found at:

KUZA, United States

The current regulations require re-registration every three years

AFAIK the FAA trustee (who "owns" all N-regs here, except where owned by a US citizen or green card holder, AIUI) is supposed to be taking care of that.

Mine (Southern Aircraft) certainly has confirmed that they do.

One little thing I forgot to mention from my posts above is that one needs to be ultra careful with doing an Export CofA.

Doing one is not supposed to de-register the plane from the FAA register and, thus, if you do one but change your mind and stay on the N-reg, you have merely wasted a load of money.

But there have been cases where the FAA has used that to de-reg the plane. This won't be discovered for years, if ever, but the plane no longer has any legal existence. So, no CofA, no CofR, ergo no insurance.

And the only way to legally move it is on the surface. Obviously, the company doing the work has you over a barrel because you have exactly two options:

  • tow it to another company at your airport
  • take the wings off and put it on a trailer

I have a feeling that this is what happened to Graham Hill's N-reg Aztec which post-crash turned out to be nonexistent, and the resulting lack of insurance for passenger liability stripped his estate. I've read several accounts of it, including a book or two, and none of them contain any useful detail on this area, so this is pure speculation on my part, but I can't imagine that somebody with essentially unlimited funds would have done that knowingly, because the plane was maintained fully, etc.

It also follows that before doing any registry transfer, get all your ducks in a row before de-registering the plane. I explain this in detail in my G to N writeup linked above. You can get into a totally horrid situation. I had serious difficulties, yet my plane was N-reg when built 3 years previously, was provably 100% IAW FAA requirements (and I had the docs to prove that), then was G for 3 years, but that helped little. Air Touring had installed a GPS antenna without any paperwork, in a composite roof, which was a bit of fun...

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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