COVID-19 FAA Aircraft Registry Update

This evening, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, a “Safer at Home” order will go into effect in Oklahoma City. In effect, this order is no different than many of the “Shelter at Home” orders already in place in many cities around the United States. Importantly, however, it is our understanding that the FAA Registry, which is located in Oklahoma City, will continue operating under the altered procedures we previously outlined and as further described below. We also understand that legal services in connection with the FAA are considered “essential services.” As such, McAfee & Taft remains available to assist with your aviation needs.

The FAA issued new procedures this week in order to reduce employee exposure to the virus. Effective March 24, 2020, all incoming documents received by mail or filed in the PD Room will be quarantined for 72 hours. This quarantine will include documents that would normally be capable of priority processing (such as documents for aircraft requiring international flights or imports).

Nevertheless, documents properly submitted through the email portal will be processed without delay. Per official FAA guidance, the 20-page email maximum for the portal will not apply to priorities. Please note, however, that the FAA is continuously updating their procedures; we understand they may now accept documents over 20 pages via email, although this change has not been officially adopted by the FAA. Parties must take care to comply with the FAA’s digital signature requirements, payment options, and other procedures in connection with emailing documents to the portal.

Although emailing documents to the portal may provide a partial solution in certain situations, the quarantine will certainly present an issue for lenders and lessors that need to perfect their interest at closing. Based on the new procedures, lease or loan documents physically filed at the FAA would not be processed or file stamped for a minimum of 72 hours after they are filed with the FAA. It may be possible to make precautionary International Registry filings or implement other changes to the industry’s standard closing procedures to help avoid this risk. Please reach out to any lawyer with the McAfee & Taft Aviation Group if you have any questions.

Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic are constantly evolving, and we will keep you informed as to any and all changes at the FAA. For all updates, visit our McAfee & Taft COVID-19 Resource Center. Stay safe and healthy!