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A site devoted to aviation law, safety and security.

August 19, 2013

DOT Releases Second Half 2013 SIFL Rates

The U.S. Department of Transportation has released the Standard Industry Fare Level (SIFL) rates for the six-month period from July 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013. These rates are needed in order to apply the IRS's aircraft valuation formula to compute the value of non-business transportation aboard employer-provided aircraft and impute the income of the employee as required by the Internal Revenue Service Rules Section 1.61-21(g). The SIFL rates for the six-month period from July 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013, are: 0500 miles $0.2654; 501-1,500 miles $0.2024; over 1,500 miles $0.1946; and Terminal Charge of $48.53.

If you are an employer and an employee or a non-employee guest or family member is flown on your aircraft, the flight is potentially taxable to the individual receiving the ride. The aircraft valuation formula applies on a per-flight, per-person basis and will be calculated using the distance in statute miles from where the individual boards the aircraft to where the individual deplanes.

Posted by Greg

August 15, 2013

February-Issued Aircraft Certificate Online Re-Registration Deadline Approaches

If you own an aircraft that was registered in the month of February of any year before October 1, 2010, your aircraft must be re-registered by December 31, 2013. You should submit your re-registration application as soon as possible since you won't be able to operate your aircraft legally after December 31, 2013 unless you have received your new registration certificate. Online re-registrations will be accepted until October 31, 2013. After that, you will need to submit your re-registration application to the FAA via mail. Online re-registration applications may be submitted here by entering the aircraft's N-number and re-registration code to begin the process, or you may submit a written re-registration application to the FAA via mail.

For a discussion of the FAA's re-registration requirements, please read my article Understanding The FAA's New Aircraft Re-Registration And Renewal Requirements. Additionally, the FAA has a Frequently Asked Questions page regarding re-registration which you can view here.

Posted by Greg

August 08, 2013

Slander of Title: The Risk Of Filing An Invalid Mechanic's Lien

An individual recently called me and told me he wanted to file a mechanic's lien against an aircraft. When I asked him what type of work he had performed he indicated that he had performed some maintenance on the aircraft and also provided pilot services to the owner in the aircraft. Unfortunately, in this individual's state, as is the case in most other states, pilot services are not the type of work upon which an aircraft mechanic's lien may be based. When I told him that, he asked why he couldn't just file the lien for the full amount and then worry about whether he could collect for the pilot services component of the lien down the road. I answered that this was not a good idea. Here's why.

One defense an aircraft owner may assert in response to a lien claimant's attempt to enforce a mechanic's lien against an aircraft is that the lien is invalid because the lien claimant is knowingly demanding an amount in excess of what is justly due. This defense is very common in situations where the aircraft owner initially disputed the amount being charged by the lien claimant. It is also common where the lien claimant is trying to get paid for work that is not lienable work, such as the pilot services in the above-situation. Although this defense usually requires that the aircraft owner show bad faith on the part of the lien claimant or that the lien claimant knew the lien statement was overstated, that isn't necessarily hard to do when the lien is for work that is not allowed under the applicable mechanic lien statute.

And here is the risk a lien claimant may be exposed to if his or her mechanic lien is invalid: If the aircraft owner is successful in defending against the foreclosure proceeding, the aircraft owner will also probably succeed in a slander of title claim against the lien claimant. An aircraft owner asserting a slander of title claim alleges that the lien claimant improperly encumbered the aircraft with an invalid lien. A slander of title claim could have serious and expensive implications for the lien claimant if the improper lien prevented a sale of the aircraft or forced the aircraft owner to accept less in a sale than he or she would have in the absence of a lien.

The moral of the story? Perfecting and enforcing an aircraft mechanic's lien can be tricky. In addition to the federal filing requirement, each state has its own specific requirements governing aircraft mechanic's liens. Lien claimants should understand what their particular state laws allow and require in order to assert an aircraft mechanic's lien. When in doubt, contact an aviation attorney familiar with your state's aircraft mechanic's lien laws to analyze your situation and help you choose the best course of action.

Posted by Greg

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