Owning an aircraft or fixing one is expensive. It can hurt if a customer doesn’t pay for the work that you do. Luckily, Texas is one of many states with laws in place that allow mechanics to place liens on airplanes when their customers, airplane owners, fail to pay the debts that they owe.
Texas law dictates what rights claimants have in terms of placing a lien on an aircraft. The state outlines its aircraft maintenance lien statutes in Texas Administrative Code Section 95.606. Outlined here are steps lienholders must take to perfect a lien, a process that they must complete before they can enforce it.
Lienholders must also record their claim with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Registry to protect their third-party interests. Mechanics must document the dates, details about the work performed and associated costs when registering their lien with the FAA. The state doesn’t consider a lien to be “perfected” unless this process happens by its established deadline.
Texas law only allows claimants a short time to file a foreclosure lawsuit after perfecting the lien. They’re generally no longer eligible to enforce the lien once that statute of limitations passes. The claimant can preserve the claim against the owner of the aircraft. They’re unlikely to be able to enforce it, though, unless they obtain a judgment that they record with the FAA.
You may be wondering what happens once a lien becomes unenforceable under Texas law. Automatic removal from the FAA registry doesn’t occur. There are only two situations that would result in this happening. You can file a judge’s ruling with the FAA if they decide that the lien is unenforceable or invalid. If a lienholder signs a lien release and records it with the FAA, then it may no longer be enforceable either. Therefore, a lien may remain on an aircraft indefinitely unless the lienholder takes some legal action to release it.
If there’s one thing that you should know about the Texas legal system, you have to take proactive measures within specifically designated windows of time to protect your rights. Don’t take your chances when it comes to holding a Houston aircraft owner accountable for paying what’s due. Let an aviation attorney help guide you through the process of filing a lien so that you do it right and on time.