Aircraft transactions to be delayed as FAA enforces new privacy rules


Aircraft transactions before the end of the year could be delayed by new rules implemented by the FAA to protect privacy.

The government agency announced that it was going to block public access to ancillary records for aircraft ownership last week, effective immediately.

“The biggest concern for us is the timing of this,” said Jack Gilchrist, director and shareholder, Gilchrist Aviation Law, told Corporate Jet Investor (CJI). “To do it in December, when we’re busy closing transactions. We’ve probably got 30 to 40 aircraft that we will be closing between now and the end of the year, so the timing of this thing is just really, poorly planned.”

The FAA is aiming to protect the personal data of people who have registered on the Civil Aircraft Registry Electronic System (CARES), who may have submitted sensitive information such as birth dates or photographic ID to confirm their identity.

In a bid to protect sensitive information, public access to information including trust and estate documents have been blocked, as well as name changes, merger documents, consolidation and distribution of assets information. Details about power of attorney, resolution of the board, receivership, limited liability company statements and even bankruptcy details will no longer be accessible.

As a modification to their position of prohibiting any public access to these ancillary records, in a letter dated December 15th, the FAA stated that it will allow public access to a summary page of ancillary records from tomorrow (December 23rd). Buy this will only notify examiners of the existence of important records, rather than disclose their details.

Gilchrist said that it will still be possible under the new rules to gain access to the information needed in the now private documents. But it will make transactions slower and it will be more difficult to obtain older documents, as people involved will have to submit written requests to the FAA and those mentioned within the documents. The FAA will then need to comb through documents to redact any potential sensitive information before sending it on.

“The FAA is already six months behind in processing documents,” Gilchrist said. “This will add to their delinquency in processing documents. It’s hard to say how long delays will be, but it can’t help when they’re already short staffed.”

He told CJI that there is a “clear solution” that could benefit everyone. “We’ve asked them to identify us as ‘Public Documents Room Permittees’ as exemptions to this public rule and allow us to access these records, but not to divulge sensitive information to third parties,” he said. “They’ve never allowed us to join them and the inside crowd. We’re hopeful, but we’ll see what happens with that.”

The FAA has been contacted for comment.