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Aircraft

Aircraft register

What are the requirements for entry in the domestic aircraft register?

An aircraft is eligible for registration on the Bahamas domestic aircraft register if it is:

  • owned by:
    • a natural citizen of the Bahamas;
    • an individual citizen of a foreign state who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the Bahamas;
    • a corporation lawfully organised and doing business under Bahamian law; or
    • a government entity of the Bahamas; and
  • not registered under the laws of any foreign country.

However, an aircraft will not be registered or continue to be registered in the Bahamas if the minister for transport and aviation believes that:

  • the aircraft is registered outside the Bahamas and such registration is not invalidated by operation of law on the aircraft being registered in the Bahamas;
  • an unqualified person holds any legal or beneficial interest by way of ownership in the aircraft or any share therein;
  • it would be inexpedient in the public interest for the aircraft to be or continue to be registered in the Bahamas; or
  • the aircraft does not qualify for the issue of a certificate of airworthiness in accordance with the Civil Aviation (Safety) Regulations.

The following entities (and no others) are qualified to hold a legal or beneficial interest by way of ownership in an aircraft registered in the Bahamas or a share therein:

  • the Bahamian government;
  • a citizen or permanent resident of the Bahamas or other persons as approved by the minister; and
  • a corporation lawfully organised and doing business under Bahamian law.

Mortgages and encumbrances

Is there a domestic register for aircraft mortgages, encumbrances and other interests? If so, what are the requirements and legal effects of registration?

No designated domestic register exists for aircraft mortgages, encumbrances and other interests in aircraft. Aircraft mortgages, encumbrances and other interests may be recorded with the Registrar General’s Department pursuant to the provisions of the Registration of Records Act.

Detention

What rules and procedures govern the detention of aircraft?

Aircraft detention is governed principally by the Civil Aviation Act 2016 and applicable regulations. Detention may arise in cases where, pursuant to Regulation 14(4) of the Civil Aviation (General) Regulations 2017, an authorised person (ie, any person authorised by the director general, either generally or in relation to a particular case or class of cases) determines that an aircraft is intended or likely to be flown in such circumstances that the flight would involve an offence in contravention of the Civil Aviation (General) Regulations or be a cause of danger to persons in the aircraft, or to persons or property on the ground. Under Regulation 18 of the Civil Aviation (General) Regulations, if the director general or an authorised person believes that a flight would be dangerous to any person or property and contravenes any provision of the regulations, or is likely to be flown in a condition unfit for the flight or where any aircraft is intended or likely to be flown in such circumstances that a provision relating to the licensing of air transport in the Bahamas would be contravened in relation to the flight, the director general or an authorised person may direct the operator or the pilot in command of the aircraft that he or she is not to permit the aircraft to make a particular flight or any other flight of such description as may be specified in the direction until the direction has been revoked by the minister of transport and aviation or any authorised person. Necessary steps may also be taken to detain the aircraft.

Section 52 of the Civil Aviation Act provides that aircraft registered in a country or territory which is a party to the Chicago Convention, or such other aircraft as prescribed by the minister of transport and aviation, may not be detained or seized where there is lawful entry into or transit across the Bahamas on the grounds that the construction, mechanism, parts, accessories or operation of the aircraft infringes a patent, design or mode.

Safety and maintenance

What rules and procedures govern aircraft safety and maintenance?

Safety requirements are set out in the Civil Aviation (General) Regulations and the schedules therein. The regulations state that, for Civil Aviation Act and Civil Aviation (General) Regulations purposes, the schedules therein will have effect with respect to the standards, practices and procedures adopted and applied in the Bahamas pursuant to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, which the Bahamas became a party to on June 26 1975, and includes the international standards and recommended practices and procedures adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation under Article 37 of the Chicago Convention and contained in the annexes therein. The Civil Aviation (General) Regulations include a series of schedules which prescribe a broad range of safety-related requirements in detail, including standards that apply during the issuance and renewal of airworthiness certificates and relate to the continuing airworthiness of aircraft (encompassing aircraft maintenance requirements, performance standards and maintenance records and entries). The schedules provide specific technical safety requirements in support of the Civil Aviation (General) Regulations to ensure that operations in the Bahamas meet the international standards for aviation safety maintenance of aircraft and operations of aircraft in general aviation, aerial work and commercial air transport activities. Schedule 5 makes specific provisions for continuing airworthiness of aircraft.

Drones

What is the state of regulation on unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in your jurisdiction?

Unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) are regulated in accordance with Schedule 27 of the Civil Aviation (General) Regulations. Schedule 27 regulates the operations, certificates and licences in respect of drone operations in the Bahamas. Penalties are imposed for non-compliance with Schedule 27.

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