Digital Signatures Now Accepted by the FAA Registry! — Originally published in BusinessAir Magazine, April 2016, Volume 26, No. 4.
Throughout my career as an aviation lawyer, I often have experienced a spike in my stress level due to an overnight package that didn’t make it to the escrow agent in Oklahoma City as expected and delayed the closing of an aircraft sale or purchase. This was sometimes caused by fickle weather, and sometimes by service issues or simple human error. Whatever the cause, in the past, the closing could not occur until the originally signed documents were in place in Oklahoma City, ready to be filed with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Civil Aircraft Registry. These documents include the aircraft bill of sale, registration application, security agreements and trust documents. On March 28, 2016, the FAA issued AFS-750 Change Bulletin 16-03, and, hopefully, this will put those types of delays behind us.
As of April 1, 2016, the FAA’s Aircraft Registration Branch began accepting printed duplicates of electronic documents that display legible digital signatures and are filed in compliance with Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Parts 47 and 49.
These documents include, but are not limited to the following:
• Aircraft Registration Application, AC Form 8050-1
• Aircraft Bill of Sale, AC Form 8050-2, or equivalent transfer documents
• Security documents
• Conditional Sale Contracts
• Any supporting authorization documents such as Powers of Attorney, Trusts, Trust related documents, LLC statements, etc.
Another big change involves AC Form 8050-1, the Aircraft Registration Application. Traditionally, the AC 8050-1 was a triplicate, carbon page form and there were often delays due to having to ship the unsigned application to the buyer for signature and also in delivering the original signed pink copy of the form, the so-called “Pink Slip,” to the aircraft, wherever it was located for delivery and closing. Going forward, the FAA Registry will make available a downloadable Aircraft Registration Application AC Form 8050-1 that applicants may either sign using a legible digital signature or ink. Original signatures will still be accepted, as will the traditional white and pink copies of AC Form 8050-1 Aircraft Registration Application. However, once the current supplies of the AC Form 8050-1 are exhausted, no additional stock will be ordered by the FAA, and using the downloadable Aircraft Registration Application will become the only permitted procedure.
Under the new process, when the documents are presented at the Registry filing window, the Cashier’s Control Section will treat the documents containing digital signatures as if they were signed in ink. A “CAR COPY” stamp will NOT be applied. Instead, the Registry examiners will review each document and determine if the document has a legible and acceptable digital signature. A legible and acceptable digital signature must meet the following requirements:
1. Show the name of the signer and is applied in a manner to execute or validate the document;
2. Include the typed or printed name of the signer below or adjacent to the signature when the signature uses a digitized or scanned version of the signer’s hand-scribed signature or when the name is in a cursive font;
3. Include the signer’s title as part of or adjacent to the digital signature when the signer is signing on behalf of an organization or legal entity;
4. Show evidence of authentication of the signer’s identity such as the text “digitally signed by” along with the software provider’s seal/watermark, date and time of execution; or, have an authentication code or key identifying the software provider; and
5. Have a font, size and color density that is clearly legible and reproducible when reviewed, copied and scanned into the black and white format.
Documents that are digitally signed and meet the five requirements above will be considered facially valid and will be acceptable for review and consideration by the Registry for recordation and registration purposes.
This change is a great step forward. Not only will it save time and allow closings to take place without delay, it will also allow the savings of all of the shipment costs and production costs of the Aircraft Registration Application, AC Form 8050-1. The sunset of the Pink Slip is on the horizon!
Please contact Amanda Applegate at 310-392-5200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.