A Clouded Aircraft Title
If you are a private aircraft owner you know the joy and freedom of transporting yourself, family and friends to destinations across the country without the hassle of airport security and traffic jams. When it comes to buying and selling an aircraft, most aircraft owners find themselves doing business in Oklahoma City in one fashion or another. That’s because Oklahoma City is home to the FAA’s Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center (“FAA”). The title to every civil aircraft registered in the United States is housed at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center. Likewise, any time a lender wants to record a security interest against a U.S. registered aircraft they cause their security interest to be recorded at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center. Aircraft mechanics and lien claimants do the same. For these reasons, most of the aircraft title and escrow agents that assist aircraft owners with buying and selling aircraft are located in Oklahoma City. That has led to Cheek & Falcone having a diverse aircraft law practice.
When an aircraft owner chooses to sell his/her old aircraft and buy a newer model, they often discover, for the first time, that the title to their aircraft is “clouded”. If you borrow money to purchase an aircraft the lender often times requires an aircraft title examiner to review the aircraft’s title history for liens and security interests. Their job is to search the FAA’s records and compile a complete title history for your aircraft. A cloud on your aircraft title can be caused by many things. I’ve seen title examiners find divorce decrees, bankruptcy court orders, aircraft mechanic liens dating to the 1970’s, and aircraft security interests dating back to 1952. All of the foregoing can become an adverse claim on the title to your aircraft. Out of this conundrum arises the term a “cloud” on your aircraft’s title. The effect of these “clouds” is to bring your closing to a crashing halt. After all, how do you deal with an unreleased lien dating back to 1975?
At Cheek & Falcone we offer our aircraft owner clients a solution to eliminate the cloud(s) on their aircraft’s title. We call it an aircraft quiet title action. In an aircraft quiet title action we locate all of the adverse lien claimants, their heirs and successors and notify them through a court action that the aircraft owner challenges the validity of their claim against the aircraft. While an attorney can never guarantee results of a legal action, our firm has had great success with aircraft quiet title actions. Most are handled for a flat fee. On average they take anywhere from sixty to one hundred days. In many instances, once the adverse lien claimants receive notice, we are able to negotiate a release of the outstanding interest in the aircraft. In the end, an aircraft quiet title action, properly handled by competent legal counsel, allows your aircraft to be bought or sold free of clouds on its title.
The information in this article is not legal advice, and you should not take any action based on information you find in this article without first consulting qualified legal counsel concerning the facts and circumstances of your situation. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading this article.