Over the years, the nature and structure of the global aviation industry has fundamentally changed. These changes include deregulation, reduced levels of governmental financial support, the formation of airline alliances, and the increased use of leasing by operators to gain operational flexibility and reduce capital outlays for parts of their fleets.

A result of these changes is that aircraft are increasingly subject to multiple transfers of nationality over the course of their useful life, yet much regulation continues to implicitly assume that operators own and retain an aircraft for most or all of its useful life. AWG refers to such changes in nationality as 'cross border transfers' of aircraft and the related field of regulation and practice as 'cross border transferability'.

The overriding objective of AWG work in this field is to seek alignment of international regulation, national law, and best practices with the realities of cross border transfers -- at all times while maintaining the highest standards of safety. We seek to reduce regulatory overlap and duplication where significant costs and operational burdens are imposed on owners, operators, and regulators without enhancing aviation safety.

That entails working with all impacted constituencies to significantly accelerate current efforts (mainly undertaken through regional efforts and bi-lateral agreements) to develop harmonised regulations and procedures that enhance the efficiency of aircraft airworthiness transfers, certifications, importation, and re-registrations.

AWG has produced a schematic depicting our major efforts on cross-border transferability.

Economic Impact Assessment: Dissimilar Technical Requirements Impacting Transferability

AWG commissioned an economic impact assessment in the field of regulatory requirements impacting the cross-border transferability of aircraft. It was carried out by SGI Aviation. The study concludes that, over a 20-year period, the cost of dissimilar but not safety-related regulatory requirements impacting cross-border transfer of aircraft may exceed USD 7 billion. The study includes several recommendations designed to reduce such costs. A PowerPoint summary of the study is attached.

Proposed Resolution of the ICAO General Assembly on Cross Border Transferability

AWG supports adoption of a foundational resolution at the 2016 General Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to anchor international efforts on improving the regulatory structure applicable to cross-border transfers of aircraft. Such resolution would encourage member states to support work on (1) creating an easily accessible and accurate repository of national import requirements, (2) accepting electronic forms of aircraft records, (3) simplifying, and, where possible, standardizing transfer records requirements, including procedures and documentation, and (4) applying risk-based, rather than aircraft age-based, criteria for importation and operation of aircraft.

In particular:

1. Creation of an International Repository of Import Requirements

AWG supports the repository of national import requirements recently established by ICAO. That repository, included in its database on matter covered by Circular 95, is a vehicle for accessing such requirements. In due course, we expect that it will also provide the data needed to undertake important work on harmonization and standardization of import requirements. Attached is a general outline of the structure of that repository. AWG is commissioning a project to start populating the repository with granular, and, thus useful, information from a number of representative states. Member state commitment to assuring the on-going accuracy of the database will be essential to the realization of cross-border transfer efficiencies by states and their aircraft operators and owners.

2. Acceptance of Electronic Forms of Records

AWG supports the universal acceptance of records created or stored in an electronic format (electronic records) as the functional equivalent of paper records in connection with the transfer of aircraft registration. Such acceptance by regulators would remove a barrier to greater use of electronic records by operators, which constrains their ability to realize cost efficiencies throughout their operations (i.e., not just in connection with cross-border transfers). Full realization of such efficiencies will also require development of protocols allowing records to be efficiently interchanged between different electronic systems.

3. Simplification and Standardization of Transfer Record Requirements

AWG supports cooperative work among regulators, operators, lessors, and other impacted stakeholders in the development of simplified and standardized transfer record requirements. In many cases such enhancements can be rapidly accomplished through applicable industry trade associations, thus facilitating and expediting important aspects of objectives (1) and (2). AWG’s work with ICAO on a transfer document list in the ICAO Airworthiness Manuals, publication of AWG model aircraft and engine incident and clearance statements [NB: attach], and our upcoming release of model contractual clauses are examples of work in this area.

4. Application of Risk-based, Rather than Age-based, Aircraft Import and Use Standards

Based on the AWG-commissioned study by Professor John Hansman of MIT, [insert MIT title and link to study], AWG supports reforms in laws, regulations and practices relating to the importation or use of aircraft based on data-driven risk-based considerations, rather than aircraft age. Professor Hansman’s work stands for the proposition that, as aircraft age poorly correlates with safety, age-based limitations may be imposing needless burdens on aircraft transferability and use.

Working Relations with Others on Cross Border Transferability

AWG maintains working relations with a wide range of governments, international organisations, and industry groups seeking cooperative work on the cross-border transferability of aircraft. These relations will be broadened and deepened, as AWG’s work in this field develops.

Parties and groups with which AWG consults on cross border transferability include:

- the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
- the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
- Civil Aviation Authorities in many other countries
- the International Air Transport Association (IATA); see attached AWG statement on select IATA documentation
- regional aircraft associations
- the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT)
- aviation industry bodies involved in MRO activities

Analysis of Impact of Aircraft Age on Safety for Air Transport Jet Airplanes

AWG does not support age-based import restrictions for aircraft, believing that a risk-based approach should be followed. AWG has commissioned a study on that important topic. The study, entitled "Analysis of Impact of Aircraft Age on Safety for Air Transport Jet Airplanes" was prepared by Professor John Hansman, director of MIT's International Center for Air Transportation, our independent technical expert on this subject. The study concludes (at p. 19) that there is no correlation between the fatal accident rates and aircraft age up to 27 years of age for commercial jet aircraft' and 'the evidence does not support age-based import restrictions as an effective measure to increase aviation safety' assuming proper regulation.

For ease of reference, Professor Hansman has prepared a powerpoint summarizing the study.

We believe that this study supports the proposition that, as guidance materials, the ICAO Airworthiness Manuals should expressly support risk-based approaches, such as limits of validity, rather than age-based import restrictions.

Establishment of an International Repository of Import Requirements

One recommendation made by AWG calls for the establishment of an International Repository of national import requirements. A repository would provide timely access to such requirements and create a context of general transparency. Most importantly, it would provide a foundation for the development of international norms and standards based on best practices.

AWG considers that ICAO is uniquely positioned to organise and support such an international repository, and that such would advance ICAO's mission of developing harmonised safety standards in international civil aviation.

Enhanced ICAO Guidance Materials on Transferability Items

One set of recommendation made by AWG call for harmonised standards on a range of items impacting cross-border transferability. These include: (i) the development of processes for export and import of aircraft; (ii) the introduction of a standard export certificate of airworthiness; (iii) a standard format for authorised release certificates; and (iv) the introduction of a global concept of airworthiness.

AWG considers that advancing these items in the context of enhanced ICAO guidance materials is an appropriate first stage in the process of harmonisation of these important items.


AWG notes with approval the finalisation of the EU - US bilateral agreement on aviation safety (Agreement between the United States of America and the European Community on cooperation in the regulation of civil aviation safety).

AWG looks forward to contributing to the implementation of this landmark agreement, including through work in the technical bodies being created under that agreement.

Upcoming and Recent Cross-Border Transferability Events