At 87 years old, the Bermuda Aircraft Registry (BCAA) is the largest offshore aircraft registry, and the tenth largest registry worldwide. Thomas Dunstan, BCAA Director General, outlines some of the benefits of being in Bermuda and why they are exploring new markets in the Middle and Far East.

Story By Jill Stockbridge
Published 28.11.18
Interviews

Established in 1931, the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA) is responsible for the regulation and safety oversight of aviation in the UK Overseas Territory of Bermuda and all aircraft on the Bermuda Aircraft Registry. Originally launched as the Bermuda Department of Civil Aviation, the BCAA became a newly formed Authority on 1st October, 2016.

Although it is regulated by the UK Department for Transport, the safety oversight system is separate from that of the UK and is based on the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The current Registry of over 835 aircraft includes a mix of both private and commercial aircraft operated under Article 83 bis agreement.

Despite its age, or maybe because of the reassurance that brings to many owners, the registry is now more competitive and valuable than ever and growing rapidly, as Thomas Dunstan, BCAA Director General, explains.

 
 
 
Tell us a little about yourself, what is your background and how did you come to the Bermuda Aircraft Registry? 

I studied and trained to be a pilot. However, that career was stifled by bad timing, as just after I obtained all my licences, the first Gulf war had started and I was unable to find employment in the US or Canada. I moved back to Bermuda and, after a couple of non-aviation jobs, I was hired by Airport Operations at the Bermuda International Airport. I spent 10 years with the airport in various capacities, and then was successful in my application for the Director of Civil Aviation position and have been with the BDCA, now BCAA for the last 12 years.

You are looking for growth, investment, and higher income for the registry, but have also warned about the higher risks that come with more aircraft. How do you balance the two and ensure you maintain your reputation?  

Our whole management system is a proactive approach.  We continuously assess our risks and put plans in place to stay ahead.  Appropriately qualified, experienced staff are also vital, and we invest significantly in our staff to ensure they have and retain the competencies for their the job.


Effective 1st January 2018, the Cape Town Convention and the related Protocol (Convention) came into force for aircraft on the Bermuda Registry. The Convention enables interested parties to protect and recover their mobile assets with greater certainty and ease by creating an international registry.


What difference has it made becoming a separate authority, not part of the government, to your clients and to your ability to operate as a business? 

We are able to offer more streamlined processes and improved response times. This has been aided by the ability to hire more staff and implement more business oriented systems and practices.

With 80 per cent of the aircraft on the registry being commercial aircraft operating elsewhere, how important are private aviation and business jets? Do you see this as an area of growth?

Private/corporate aircraft are a very important part of our registry.  This is how our success began and we do not lose sight of this. Increased competition and changing regulations have certainly made it more challenging in gaining aircraft in this sector.

How is BCAA developing as a registry to meet the growing demands of the business aviation industry?

We are currently introducing an online payment capability, streamlining our invoicing system and reviewing and amending our regulatory processes. The registry is also upgrading its current digital and electronic documentation system. All of these changes are being implemented to enable us to be more efficient, enhance our customer service and meet growing demand.

 
 
 
 
The registry has grown nine per cent in the last year. Where has that growth come from? Where are you targeting for future growth?

The majority of that growth has come from Russia and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States).  Current and future target areas are Asia and the Middle East.

Citizens or companies incorporated in UK/Overseas Territories/Crown Dependencies, Commonwealth or European Economic Area qualify to register an aircraft in Bermuda. However, citizens of GCC countries and Asia still have to have a domicile representative or establish a company in Bermuda. Could this be an impediment to growth in these regions?

It could be an impediment to some people or organisations, but the benefits of registering aircraft in Bermuda quite often outweigh these regulatory requirements. These benefits include: asset protection through both Cape Town and Mortgage Register; an ICAO-based safety oversight system; tax neutrality; and Category 1 Aviation Regulatory Authority by the US Federal Aviation Administration. The registry has earned an international reputation for offering high regulatory standards and excellent service levels.


Private/corporate aircraft are a very important part of our registry.  This is how our success began and we do not lose sight of this. Increased competition and changing regulations have certainly made it more challenging in gaining aircraft in this sector.


What is the significance of a mortgage registry?

Effective 1st January 2018, the Cape Town Convention and the related Protocol (Convention) came into force for aircraft on the Bermuda Registry. The Convention enables interested parties to protect and recover their mobile assets with greater certainty and ease by creating an international registry. This provides assurance to lenders, leasing companies and operators that their asset is protected. Prior to Cape Town, Bermuda had in place an Aircraft and Engine Mortgage register, which will be retained as another mechanism for protection and recovery of assets.

Why should Middle Eastern aircraft owners consider Bermuda when looking for an aircraft registry? Experience, reputation, credibility, responsiveness, global reach, with offices in Bermuda, UK, Moscow and soon Shanghai.

The BCAA UK office recently relocated to the main terminal building at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire. In addition, BCAA has engaged additional airworthiness inspectors who can provide excellent response times to our clients in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. We are also now offering the added benefit of short notice aircraft inspections and Certificate of Airworthiness issuance during a turnaround or layover at Farnborough.

 

 
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