In 1946 The Bahamas established the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) which is responsible for ensuring a safe and orderly flow of air traffic of Bahamian air space, licensing of aircrafts, aircrew, aircraft engineers, issuance of Certificate of Airworthiness (and other certificates required for air craft registration), inspection and licensing of airports and airstrips, implementation of international civil aviation organization rules and regulations, cleaning and maintaining government owned air ports located in New Providence and throughout the islands of The Bahamas.  Recently, The Bahamas Government conducted extensive renovations costing over $400 million dollars to the domestic and international terminals of the Lyden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) located in New Providence to properly service its more than 3 million domestic and international air passengers annually which, in addition to a myriad of structural and cosmetic improvements, also included a new state of the art control tower and radar facility. LPIA operates 24 hours a day with 2 lighted runways, 36 aircraft gates, and 10 jet bridges. Currently 23 airlines fly commercially to 29 international and 16 domestic destinations out of LPIA resulting in more than 87,000 international and domestic aircraft landings and takeoffs as well as countless landing and takeoffs from the other Government airports located on “Family Islands” and privately owned Cays throughout The Bahamas on a daily basis.

At present, The Bahamas has over 200 air crafts, private and commercial, registered with the DCA’s Aircraft Registry. As a part of the DCA’s ongoing efforts to upkeep the high standard of aviation practice, The Bahamas is a signatory to the International Civil Aviation Organization Conventions (1944) (ICAO), a UN specialized agency created in 1944 at the signing of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention). ICAO works with the Convention’s 191 Member States, including The Bahamas, and global aviation organizations to provide the basis for international operations of aircraft and controls the aviation standards that should be adopted as regulatory requirements, ICAP compels The Bahamas to adopt Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) which Member States reference when developing its legally enforceable civil aviation rules, regulations and legislation. This no doubt, ensures respect, recognition and reciprocity between the other ICAO Member States globally as The Bahamas along with every other Member State is expected to include and adhere to Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) in its aviation documents. The Bahamas has 2 main pieces of legislation that govern aviation namely, The Civil Aviation Act and Regulations (and amendments) and the Civil Aviation Safety Amendment Regulations (and amendments), which is currently being amended before Cabinet to include air drones, their use and regulations. An important requirement to note is that Bahamian registered aircraft must be owned by either a Bahamian citizen, a Permanent Resident of The Bahamas or held in the name of a Bahamian company incorporated under the Companies Act.

Further, the DCA has its own Bahamian strict ICAO based SARPs consolidated body of regulations applicable to flight safety standards, entitled The Bahamas Aviation Regulations. The Bahamas Aviation Regulations cover a myriad of areas including:-

  1. Penalties for infraction of requirements of Bahamas Aviation Safety Regulation (“BASR”);
  2. Registration of aircraft;
  3. Aircraft ad component original certification;
  4. Continuing Airworthiness of aircraft;
  5. Approved Maintenance;
  6. Required instruments and equipment;
  7. Personnel licensing;
  8. Approved training organizations;
  9. Operations of aircraft;
  10. Aerial work;
  11. Air operator certification and administration;
  12. Passenger carrying requirements;
  13. Air Operator Certificate Personnel Qualification;
  14. Fatigue Management;
  15. Operational Control;
  16. Mass and Balance Performance;
  17. Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air;
  18. Aircraft Accident and Incident Reporting and Investigation;
  19. Foreign Operators; and
  20. Aerodrome Operators.

The Bahamas is also a member of the Cape Town Convention and Aircraft Protocol (CTCAP) which gives financiers of aircraft more confidence in lending as the CTCAP enables creditors to register their interest in an aircraft and provides remedies in the event of default by a debtor.

The DCA and The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) work closely and the FAA aids in overseeing aviation activity in The Bahamas.

In an effort to stay at the cutting edge of aviation the DCA regularly conducts National Civil Aviation Program workshops. In 2011 The Bahamas became the first in the Region to implement a State Safety Program (SSP).

For further information on aircraft registration in The Bahamas, including, a list of required documents and fees required to register your aircraft in The Bahamas kindly contact Melinda S. Bacchus-Maynard at 1.242.328.3500 or mbacchus-maynard@gsolegal.com.

 

Melinda S. Bacchus-Maynard

July 2015