Quieting Title to Aircraft

Johnson County Quiet Title Lawyer

Civilian aircraft must be "registered" with the Civil Registry of the Federal Aviation Administration, except for narrow exceptions, such as aircraft operated by the U.S. military and some foreign civilian and military aircraft. The registration of civilian aircraft with the FAA is governed by 14 CFR Part 49 (Code of Federal Regulations).

The Registry is where conveyances, such as sales and other transfers, are recorded. The recording of such conveyances must meet strict criteria. The make and model and manufacturer's serial number are essential identifiers, although the "N" number is optional. For all filing documents, originals, duplicate originals or certified copies must be submitted.

Special problems arise when liens properly recorded against the aircraft (or the aircraft's engines or propellers) with the FAA registry. Unlike your local Department of Motor Vehicles, the FAA is not responsible for "removing" liens. It does not issue "clear title," or any title documents, for that matter. It simply records properly submitted documents reflecting transfers of and encumbrances (e.g., liens) upon the aircraft.

For this reason, in most cases the FAA will accept for filing a certified copy of a court order quieting title to the aircraft in your name as the owner of record, or of extinguishing liens on the aircraft. That is, so long as the basic filing requirements are met.

The Process of Quieting Title

In order to quiet title, Martin & Wallentine could file a lawsuit in a court of competent jurisdiction over the aircraft and/or the parties-in-interest (either the aircraft seller or the persons or entities claiming liens on the aircraft). We could then obtain service over the named parties and, in addition, serve unknown third parties via "publication notice." This is an added protection against later claims by third parties that they were deprived of due process and that the order quieting title was void, defective, or should be set aside.

Essentially, publication notice is an ad run in a newspaper in a specific time and manner prescribed by statute. Everyone else in the world is deemed to have read it. Although it is in this way a "legal fiction," nevertheless it provides the Court assurance that every attempt was made to give third parties the statutorily required time to answer the lawsuit and make a claim on the aircraft before the court issues its ruling regarding the title.

As a practical matter, most "quiet title" lawsuits are uncontested. Once the suit is filed and the required time-period for other parties to answer the lawsuit has expired, we are in a position to submit an order to the judge for his review. Provided the statutory requirements are met, the judge is usually satisfied with attorneys' signatures on the order and generally will not require you to "put on evidence" supporting your claim to quiet title—that is, beyond the documents already supplied to the court once the case is first filed. However, proper drafting of the court Order Quieting Title is essential. It must satisfy the FAA's requirements for filing and, furthermore, must effectively extinguish any liens that may be "clouding" the aircraft's title.

Contact a Quiet Title Lawyer in Johnson County

If you need to have liens cleared, or otherwise need clean title to an aircraft, contact the attorneys at Martin & Wallentine today to discuss your case. Our lawyers are experienced at obtaining quiet titles, including planes and other vehicles.

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