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The registration of a business aircraft on to China’s B-Register is a relatively straight forward process and is much the same as the legislation in many other countries- according to David Dorrance- Executive Vice President of Montreal-based ACASS- a respected provider of aviation support services.

Mike Vines   |   1st September 2011
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Placing an aircraft on China’s B-Register

The registration of a business aircraft on to China’s B-Register is a relatively straight forward process and is much the same as the legislation in many other countries- according to David Dorrance- Executive Vice President of Montreal-based ACASS- a respected provider of aviation support services.

Worldwide the process of registration of an all-new or pre-owned aircraft is known as Entry Into Service (EIS). Being granted a B-Registration comes as the prize at the end of a process that provides Chinese aircraft owners and operators far greater flexibility and economy of operation within China compared to owners of foreign-registered aircraft. For this purpose the Hong Kong and Macau Registers (VR-H and CR-M- respectively) are regarded as foreign registers.

“The CAAC [General Administration of Civil Aviation of China] is performing surprisingly well given the increasing numbers of business jets coming onto the B-Registry in a relatively short period-” observes Dorrance. The entire process from purchase to successful EIS can take from six to eight months currently.

Permission to own a business aircraft has to be sought from the Chinese Authorities- and as part of the EIS process additional financial checks on prospective owners and companies are made.

“It is best to understand the process prior to an aircraft purchase in order to save significant time and avoid unnecessary challenges-” warns Dorrance. He explains that as part of the EIS financial process- potential owners or their agents have to deal with SAFE (an acronym for the Government Department responsible for this phase of down-payment approval).

In reality this means that the potential aircraft purchaser must prove that he or she has the aircraft’s entire purchase price in their bank account. A deposit or a stage-payment is then debited from this account as the aircraft is ordered and manufactured. Just the promise of extra finance is not enough to satisfy the regulator.

Another regulation states that- “The CAAC may require SAFE to verify the truthfulness of the sales transaction and approve the down payments”.

Early Planning is Essential
“An organization purchasing an aircraft should begin planning for the entry into service as early as possible (many months before the purchase of an aircraft) regardless of whether the aircraft is new or pre-owned-” Dorrance outlines. “There are a myriad of things that need to be addressed. This is an area that needs improvement - and the problem is not at all unique to China.”

Chinese buyers can apply for approval of purchase and importation of an aircraft into the country either through Regional or Central levels of government. Further approval is then required for down-payment through the Central Banks. Once the appropriate paperwork has been filed- CAAC Inspectors are dispatched to the aircraft’s location (usually North America for new business aircraft) to review aircraft documentation and perform a thorough on-site inspection of the aircraft.

This process is undertaken by CAAC inspectors only- and is not allowed to be sub-contracted to third parties - a problem that causes backlogs. According to a knowledgeable source it should take 40 business days to clear each of the four groups of regulations within the EIS process - but each segment of authorization is currently taking longer- and eight months is now a more realistic time frame to complete the EIS procedure.

Filling the Interim
The backlog has caused what could be described as ‘cottage industries’ [independent businesses] to emerge in North America and offer to hangar- or operate these China-bound completed aircraft while they await their all-important B-Registration.

Like many other specialist companies- Dorrance says that ACASS has been taking title- insuring some of these aircraft and placing them on its Operators’ Certificate so that owners can at least make use of them while they wait for approval. This typically is on the Canada C-Registry or the U.S. N-Register.

During this period of limbo - and despite the owner being Chinese - the aircraft is treated as a foreign aircraft in Mainland China.

“Some companies are using us at the moment for title transfer while modifications are undertaken on a pre-owned aircraft-” explains Dorrance. “So the owner will keep it on a C- or N-Register and perhaps base it in Hong Kong or Singapore- flying it in and out of China under foreign-registry limitations.

“These limitations should be weighed carefully as permission [over-flight and landing] times may take longer [while the aircraft lacks B-Registration] and not many airports will be accessible to the aircraft. Additionally- changing one’s pre-determined flight plan is not necessarily possible without B-Registration. This being said- having limited use of the aircraft is better than no use while the process forges ahead.”

Dorrance reveals that ACASS has been involved with ten aircraft going onto the Chinese register over the last 12 months- and he believes the total number of aircraft purchased and ready to go into China during the first six months of 2011 was around 30 aircraft.

“China is an emerging market for us-” Dorrance states. “We’re in discussion with all the major Chinese players to supply complete crewing. One should not approach this as a simple task on a check-list- especially for China.”

Chinese business aircraft owners are looking for a turn-key solution where pilots and engineers are identified- selected- screened and prepared- according to Dorrance. They seek an experienced foreign crew that will provide knowledge transfer and assistance to local pilots to enable them to gain the necessary proficiency and safety culture- with the ultimate goal of self-sufficiency. They are also looking for a structured and organized approach to operations that can be replicated- and the foreign and local human resources aspects handled eventually within China.

In essence- it is these first foreign crews that are training the first generation of Chinese Business Aviation pilots- engineers and cabin attendants.

ACASS is one of a number of specialist Business Aviation companies undertaking aircraft surveys and acquisition- completions- technical acceptance- preparation for host registry- recommendation and acceptance on the host registry- ferry flights and proficiency training of local personnel. It undertakes license validations for the pilots and engineers- and provides appropriate briefing of crew as to the mission and its expectations.

ACASS’s global database contains some 6-000 potential professional employees- and the company claims to be the largest air crew and aircraft engineers support provider for private jets.

More information from www.acass.com 

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