Mar 29, 2016

Aviation Alert: FAA to Permit Use of True “Digital” Signatures on Filed Documents Starting April 1

On March 28, 2016, the FAA issued a bulletin in respect of a change by the Aircraft Registry in Oklahoma City to begin accepting “true” digital signatures on certain filed documents (see list of permitted documents below).  This new rule is effective April 1.

Unfortunately the new rule does not go as far is it could in respect of ease for transaction parties.  For example, the FAA will not accept the listed types of documents for filing with a digitized signature (i.e., a manually signed document that is then e-mailed or faxed).  Under the new rule the FAA will accept one of the listed documents when it has been signed with an electronic/digital signature (one that “shows 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, that has an authentication code or key identifying the software provider”).

While it is difficult to predict whether and when the use of electronic/digital signatures will become widely adopted, for the time being, the new rule could be a useful tool for signing and submitting to the FAA a last minute or missing document.


The Change: Effective April 1, 2016 the Aircraft Registration Branch (Registry) will accept printed duplicates of electronic documents that display legible digital signatures and are filed in compliance with 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 Sales Contracts
  • Leases
  • Any supporting authorization documents such as Powers of Attorney, Trusts, Trust related documents, LLC statements, etc.

As the FAA bulletin was distributed this week, there is not yet a lot of background or interpretation available. We will stay close to the issue. If you have any questions about these issues, please contact the SGR Air Transport Industry Group.

This client alert is intended to inform clients and other interested parties about legal matters of current interest and is not intended as legal advice.                      

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