July 12, 2013

Traveling in a foreign country can be a tough venture if you don’t know the language or the customs. Similarly, many NBAA Members have found that buying, selling or leasing aircraft overseas without knowing the local legal and regulatory landscape can lead to unforeseen, and sometimes very costly, consequences.

One of the education sessions scheduled for NBAA’s Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA2013) this October in Las Vegas focuses specifically on aircraft transactions in foreign countries: “Engaging in Aircraft Transactions Abroad – Key Issues Confronted in Buying, Selling, Leasing or Financing Aircraft Outside of the U.S.”

“Part of this is from an in-house counsel perspective. There’s a vast array of issues that can trip you up in transacting aircraft sales and leases overseas[comma, not period]” said Sean Fitzgibbons, associate general counsel for global investigations and business aviation at Walmart, who will be co-presenting the session along with James Meyer of the Miami law firm Harper Meyer.

Among them, Fitzgibbons and Meyer plan to delve into the impact of civil aviation regulations at home and abroad on the import and export of aircraft and parts.

“Part of the problem is finding qualified people to participate in the transaction,” Fitzgibbons said. “The biggest mistake a company can make is trying to go it alone in a foreign aircraft transaction or trying to do it on the cheap by having someone who’s not qualified handle the legalities.”

The seminar will focus on what to look for in hiring counsel outside the U.S. – especially in nations like China and Brazil, with rapidly evolving aviation environments, said Fitzgibbons.

“There are just so many ways a deal can go wrong without the proper vetting,” he warned.

The legal aspect of a foreign aircraft transaction is only one aspect of the seminar. Fitzgibbons and Meyer will also offer up-to-date information on value added tax (VAT) and other taxes buyers, sellers, lease and financial partners might encounter, as well as regulatory and licensing requirements and advice on titles, liens and registration processes.