Drafting An Aircraft Mechanic Lien Statement

by Gregory J. Reigel, Esq.
© Copyright 2021. All rights reserved!
Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine – December 2021/January 2022 Online Issue

If you perform work, provide services, or furnish materials to an aircraft, you likely have the right to assert a lien against that aircraft. A lien may also arise from a lien claimant’s storage of an aircraft.

Aircraft mechanic liens are governed by state law. And each state is a little bit different. However, most states require that a lien statement be filed with the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) within a certain period of time.

What Does The FAA Require?

In order for the FAA to accept and record a lien statement, it must include the following:
1. The state or the specific law under which the lien is being claimed;
2. A description of the aircraft including manufacturer, model, serial number, and registration number;
3. The amount of the claim;
4. The date on which the last labor, services, or materials were furnished on/to the aircraft; and
5. Signature of the claimant showing appropriate title of the individual signing the statement.

What Else Should Be Included?

In addition to meeting the FAA requirements, the lien claimant must also meet the applicable state requirements. For example, if the lien claimant is required to maintain possession of the aircraft, then the lien statement must address this information.
Alternatively, if the lien claimant is required to surrender possession of the aircraft, then the lien statement must provide this information. Also, if local law requires the lien statement to be verified (acknowledged before a notary public), that must be included as well. The FAA will reject the lien statement if the required information or verification is missing.

Although not usually required, the lien statement may also include the date the work was authorized and who authorized the work. However, unless specific state law requires it, the FAA will not reject the lien statement if this information is not shown.

What Happens If The FAA Has Questions?

If the FAA receives a lien statement identifying a lien claimant who does not appear to be located or doing business in the state under whose law the lien is claimed and the aircraft is registered in a different state, that could raise questions for the FAA. It will wonder whether/what work was performed on the aircraft in the state claimed.

In this case the FAA may request supporting documentation to establish the connection with the state claimed. It may also ask the lien claimant to re-file the lien statement with attached invoices, a clarification statement, or other documentation reflecting work was performed on the aircraft in the state claimed.

Local Recording

In addition to filing with the FAA, some states also require a lien claimant to file their lien statements. This could be with a county clerk, a clerk of courts, a register of deeds, or a county recorder. In this situation, the lien statement filed with the FAA must include either the local file-stamp or certified copy confirming it was filed with the correct local office within the applicable time frame. Without this confirmation, the FAA will reject the lien statement.

Effect Of Filing With The FAA

It is important to understand that the FAA merely records aircraft lien statements submitted by lien claimants. As long as the lien statement contains the required information, the FAA will accept and record the lien statement. However, the FAA registry will not take any position regarding the validity or enforceability of the lien claim, nor does it get involved with any dispute between the aircraft owner and lien claimant.

Conclusion

Lien statements can be tricky. Before you file, make sure you understand both the FAA and local requirements. And if you need help filing or enforcing an aircraft mechanic lien, please give me a call.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Greg Reigel is an attorney with Shackelford, Melton, McKinley & Norton, LLP, and represents clients throughout the country in aviation and business law matters. He has more than two decades of experience working with airlines, charter companies, fixed base operators, airports, repair stations, pilots, mechanics, and other aviation businesses in aircraft purchase and sales transactions, regulatory compliance including hazmat and drug and alcohol testing, contract negotiations, airport grant assurances, airport leasing, aircraft-related agreements, wet leasing, dry leasing, and FAA certificate and civil penalty actions. For assistance, call 214-780-1482,
email: greigel@shackelford.law, or Twitter @ReigelLaw
(www.shackelford.law).

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