Use the Lexology Getting The Deal Through tool to compare the answers in this article with those from other jurisdictions.

Aircraft

Aircraft register

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

All Swiss aircraft must be registered in the Swiss Aircraft Register, which is maintained by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA). In this respect, an aircraft may be registered in the Swiss Aircraft Register only if the owner is:

  • a Swiss citizen;
  • a foreign citizen assimilated to a Swiss citizen under international conventions if his/her domicile is in Switzerland and he/she is authorised to stay there for a certain period of time;
  • a foreign citizen resident in Switzerland, with a permanent Swiss residence permit (type B or C), provided that the aircraft operation is based in Switzerland;
  • a Swiss company (ie, companies with domicile in Switzerland and registered in a Swiss commercial register);
  • a Swiss public law entity or institution; or
  • a Swiss association, provided that at least two-thirds of its members and the members of the board (including its president) are Swiss citizens resident in Switzerland.

As part of the above requirements, Swiss nominees do not fulfil the nationality requirement. An aircraft owned by a foreign entity or individual cannot be registered in the Swiss Aircraft Register. However, there is an exception according to which such aircraft might be registered in the Swiss Aircraft Register provided that it is operated by a Swiss commercial aircraft operator (with a Swiss air operator certificate) for a sufficient period of time and for commercial operations on the basis of a lease or operating management agreement.

In order to register an aircraft in the Swiss Aircraft Register, the applicant must pay Sfr110 to reserve the aircraft markings. The fees due to the FOCA for the registration itself vary depending on the type of aircraft (between Sfr300 to Sfr600). The process to register an aircraft in the Swiss Aircraft Register takes approximately two weeks.

Registration of an aircraft in the Swiss Aircraft Register is separate from the procedure for obtaining a certificate of airworthiness or permit to fly that allows the aircraft to be flown legally.

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?

In Switzerland, mortgages are recorded in the Swiss Aircraft Record, a different register from the Swiss Aircraft Register. The Swiss Aircraft Record is public. It is simple to apply for registration and perfection of the mortgage. The mortgage agreement must be filed together with the application for recordal, which must be approved by the FOCA.

The application for recordal of the aircraft in the Swiss Aircraft Record is published in the Swiss Official Gazette, which allows any parties that object to notify the FOCA of their objection within 30 days of publication. At the end of this period, if no objection has been raised the mortgage is registered in the Swiss Aircraft Record and is perfected.

The fees levied by the FOCA for the registration of a mortgage depend on the value of the secured amount:

  • 2% up to Sfr2 million; or
  • 1% up to Sfr1 million.

The fees imposed by the FOCA for the registration of a mortgage in the Swiss Aircraft Record are between Sfr385 and Sfr17,200. In addition, a fee is due to the FOCA for the registration of the aircraft in the Swiss Aircraft Record of between Sfr195 and Sfr10,230 depending on the take-off weight of the aircraft (Sfr9 per 100kg).

Detention

What rules and procedures govern the detention of aircraft?

In the case of an enforceable right (ie, a judgment or court order), the detention of an aircraft is possible under the Debt Collection and Bankruptcy Act. In accordance with Section 272 of the act, the sequestration is authorised by a judge, provided that the creditor proves that:

  • its claim is valid; and
  • the asset belongs to the debtor.

The types of detention include the registration of an aircraft mortgage and the auctioning of an aircraft.

Safety and maintenance

What rules and procedures govern aircraft safety and maintenance?

Switzerland has adopted EU Regulation 216/2008 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). This is the main source of Swiss aviation safety legislation. The EASA Rules on Air Operations and Implementing Rules are applicable in Switzerland. Further, Switzerland has implemented safety management systems as provided for in International Civil Aviation Organisation Annexes 6, 11 and 14. The FOCA administers air safety in Switzerland.

Drones

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

Unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) are subject to the Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) Ordinance on Special Categories of Aircraft. In this respect, for the operation of drones with a weight of more than 30kg a permit must be obtained from the FOCA. There is no need to obtain a permit for drones whose weight is below 30kg. However, the DETEC Ordinance on Special Categories of Aircraft imposes certain restrictions on their operation (eg, prior authorisation is required to operate a drone within 5km of landing fields and heliports or to operate the drones in a control zone (ie, a zone in which aircraft are taking off and landing)).