Aircraft Leasing & Lessee Protections Regarding Existing Records

During an aircraft transition to a new lessee from a lessor an aircraft will be accompanied by a lot of existing records and technical documents.

In many cases such documents will be “historical” maintenance or records and not performed by or on behalf of the new lessee.

There is of course multiple considerations during an aircraft lease being signed and the aircraft put into operation – an airline typically will want to operate the aircraft for revenue and as such has a main focus on airworthiness, safety and regulation compliance.

The lease will ensure as best as possible at the time it was written that the aircraft has been returned in an airworthy condition and will often have requirements that exceed that of regulation compliance – remember that the lease is about protecting asset value and has a slightly different focus that an airline which is focussed on airworthiness / safety / compliance.

Of course, the lease, by design will want to ensure airworthiness / safety and compliance as this essentially means that the aircraft will be prepared for a new lessee after the existing lease ends.

Now consider DFP’s or Dirty Fingerprints – Basically these act as a “who done it” trace for different maintenance or works carried out on an aircraft. If I ask for the DFP then I am asking for the technical log page, works order, task card or paperwork where the task was carried out and certified. The DFP should clearly identify your aircraft or leave an easy trace so you can identify the aircraft subsequently.

If you are in a position where you have an aircraft leased and are responsible for the historical documents, you of course want to limit your exposure – this is where lease protection comes in and might be added into the lease agreement between lessee and lessor.

As such an operator may only be required to “store” prior records and not remain responsible for queries contained within those records. While they have the aircraft and hold the records, they would be sealed away and basically archived until lease return.

What this means that the current lessee, when coming to the end of the lease would have no obligation to remedy any discrepancy in these prior records found during the lessor’s redelivery technical acceptance process or in any way reconstruct any missing records.

This is an important point to note in the review of any lease as working on behalf of the lessor for example it could create additional workload and expense if faults are highlighted in the record history prior to the lease being returned.

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