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If your business jet or luxury helicopter is registered in Bermuda- the Cayman Islands- or a similarly sunny off-shore spot- then take a look at the world’s newest business aircraft register. It’s on a European tax haven - the Isle of Man. The register- which only came into being on May 1- this year- has the ICAO Aircraft Nationality and Registration Mark of ‘M’- followed by four letters- which makes it ...

Mike Vines   |   1st October 2007
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The M-MMMM Register
Based in Europe? Now you can register off-shore much nearer home.

If your business jet or luxury helicopter is registered in Bermuda- the Cayman Islands- or a similarly sunny off-shore spot- then take a look at the world’s newest business aircraft register. It’s on a European tax haven - the Isle of Man.

The register- which only came into being on May 1- this year- has the ICAO Aircraft Nationality and Registration Mark of ‘M’- followed by four letters- which makes it near perfect for a personalized plate. “Our phones haven’t stopped ringing since the register became known-” said Brian Johnson the director of Civil Aviation for the Isle of Man.

The Isle of Man is a self governing British Crown Dependency- not part of the UK or European Union- but its ultimate good governance is the responsibility of the UK Government. “Where is it”- you ask? It’s a small island- roughly midway between England’s North-West coast and the East coast of Northern Ireland and has a population of around 80-000.

When World Aircraft Sales Magazine spoke to Johnson just before the launch he said he would be happy if he got one aircraft registered in the first two months- “But secretly I was hoping for ten in the first year-” he confided. In fact he has already registered 12- with another ten large aircraft in process – that’s just five months since start-up and by year-end he expects to have over 20 aircraft registered. Basically- Johnson is a very happy man!

Well before May- interest was keen and demand totally surprised Johnson’s team. Aircraft were queuing up to be registered with seven in process by launch. On day-one- two new jets stood at the island’s Ronaldsway Airport waiting for the official hand-over- and a third arrived the following week. In June a new Citation Sovereign business jet aircraft arrived straight from the Wichita production line- and three high quality helicopters have been or are in the process of being added.

“All 12 aircraft registered so far are serious jets and helicopters-” said Johnson. “We recently registered a beautiful Gulfstream G-IV (re-registered M-GULF) from Florida which will be based in Europe and used for long haul business trips- and we will soon be registering a one year old Embraer Legacy 600- which is just the type of aircraft we aimed to attract at start-up.”

A Falcon 900B aircraft and a Falcon 900EX corporate aircraft are joining the register and a brand new Challenger 300 is set for inclusion in early October. “We also registered a brand new Premier IA (aptly registered M-YSKY)- a Challenger 604 business jet aircraft- also a Hawker 800B registered M-HDAM- all in September. The same month a brand new Citation for a well known ex-Formula F1 racing driver was to be registered M-ANSL.”

The first Manx Falcon 7X is in the process of aviation registration- an AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter (in eight seat luxury configuration) is due to be added in December and a Caravan I before the year end. A new Falcon 2000EX business jet aircraft (registered M-YJET) is set for early 2008 and Johnson says that he feels it won’t be long before he gets his first ‘M’ registered Boeing prefixed aircraft. “I am still waiting for an airframe for M-YBBJ-” he said.

Attractive Alternative
So what is driving this booming business? “I believe the success of our register is that it offers an attractive alternative to the existing ones- we have a completely different approach- we give good personal service- whilst maintaining the highest airworthiness standards.” To underline this- Johnson told of a US-based CEO who phoned him recently- and was amazed to be connected directly to him - he was expecting the usual inter- departmental hand-around that he had experienced with other authorities. Johnson reckons it’s also to do with the world surge in business aircraft orders- with other registering authorities almost overwhelmed by the amount of extra work. He says that his register is delivering exactly what it was set up to do; bringing in more business for Isle of Man-based specialist companies. He thinks the May launch of the register was perfect for timing- and its introduction is a logical addition to Manx expertise in the corporate aviation and financial services market.

The Island already boasts 50 of the world’s most exclusive and expensive super luxury yachts on its commercial yacht register- many carry helicopters and the owners have their own business jets.

Interest in aviation registration is coming from all over Europe including Eastern Europe and some ex-Eastern Bloc countries- according to Johnson.

Favorable Tax Regime
All users of the register will be able to benefit from the Isle of Man’s favorable tax regime. In addition to a zero rate of corporation tax- there is no Manx insurance premium tax (usually 5%)- significantly lowering the cost of operating aircraft from the Island. Aircraft financing can be easily arranged as many of the Island’s corporate service providers are active in the aircraft sector- and already have experience working with the Island’s yacht register since its introduction in 2003.

Another major advantage for European operators is that the Isle of Man provides the first dedicated corporate aircraft register service in a European time zone. “Recently France-based Dassault Falcon Jet requested ‘M’ registration information. My prospective client said- “I spend so much time talking to other parts of the world it’s great to be able talk to someone in the same time-zone”- commented Johnson. The Island has a Triple ‘A’ rating from both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s credit ratings agencies. “The Island and its aircraft registration are seen as politically neutral-” says Johnson.

To complement the aircraft register- the Isle of Man has established an aircraft mortgage register- identical to the UK legislation. The register offers a mortgage registration service during normal business hours and also at any other times by arrangement. It enables the registration of mortgages when aircraft are being delivered from manufacturers in other time zones.

To comply with Manx registration all aircraft have to be of a very high standard- with brand new jet aircraft being the Island’s primary focus. The register is open to all non-commercial aircraft above 5-700kg- but if you are a Manx resident or operate a business from there you can register smaller craft.

The Isle of Man’s complete package of corporate and aviation services has already attracted many private jet owners. Long-time resident on the Island- and owner of the first jet aircraft to be registered is Jim Mellon- who says- “The Manx register offers substantial competitive advantages in terms of flexibility- security and costs. The Island is good at providing business innovations- and the success of the shipping and super-yacht registers augurs well for the aircraft register development”. Mr Mellon’s airplane is registered M-ELON and- unlike the UK register- that will be transferable to any new aircraft he buys in the future.

Eddie Davies- owner of Bolton Wanderers Football Club- has registered his aircraft as M-BWFC. Commenting on his decision to stop using the Bermuda register in favor of the Isle of Man- Mr. Davies explained- “With other registers outside of Britain the time difference makes it very difficult to communicate successfully- thus holding up the speed at which one can progress. The Manx register will provide much more support for operators and owners as they are only a phone call away and are very willing to meet in person.”

M-MIND Blowing
For no extra cost you can personalize your ‘M’ Reg. aircraft and the possibilities are pretty ‘M-MIND blowing’. Ever thought of registering your new wonderplane ‘M-AGIC’? Well someone already has- so get in quick before the really good names go- but please don’t get M-UCKY.

There are plenty more to choose from; M-ONEY is an outstanding idea if you really want to flaunt it- or perhaps M-AJOR if you’re of a military disposition. M-AMBA might be good if you like the Latin beat or are famed for striking fast- or how about M-ANOR if you’re born to it. ‘M-EDIA’ has already been allocated to a Manx light aircraft which is a pity as this registration might well have appealed to Rupert Murdoch. M-BIKE and M-AZDA have also gone this same way.

“M-ICRO is already taken- and I was rather hoping to save it for Bill Gates but he didn’t phone-” joked Johnson. “It’s first come first served.”

Given the Isle of Man’s very successful luxury yacht register- Johnson’s latest marketing push was at the Monaco Yacht Show in late September. “There were two or three business jet and helicopter manufacturers there last time-” said Johnson. “This is a very big business sector with around 50 of these large and beautiful craft currently being built around the world.”

M-ELON - Citation 525B
M-BWFC - Citation 560XL
M-ICRO - Citation 525A
M-ONTY - Sikorsky S-76B
M-AGIC - Citation 680 Sovereign
M-XONE - Citation 525A
M-GINZ - Socata TB20
M-ANIN - Socata TB20
M-HDAM - Hawker 800B
M-MANX - Cessna 425
M-GULF - Gulfstream G-IV
M-YNJC - Embraer 135-BJ Legacy
M-YSKY - Premier 1A
M-STER - Dassault Falcon 900EX
M-NEWT - Bombardier Challenger 300
M-ANSL - Citation Encore+
M-OORE - Hawker Beechcraft 350
M-VKVK - Eurocopter AS350B3
M-YJET - Falcon 2000EX
M-EDIA- M-BIKE & M-AZDA - light aircraft

More information from www.gov.im/dti/aircraft

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