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Collecting unpaid charter fees or fuel accounts

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2024 | Aviation

Aviation mechanic’s liens are an important legal tool for individuals or businesses in the aviation industry, including as service providers, repair shops and fuel suppliers, who are trying to collect unpaid charter fees or fuel accounts. These liens provide a way to secure payment for services rendered to aircraft owners or operators. Understanding how these liens work is essential for anyone in the industry facing issues with unpaid accounts.

An aviation mechanic’s lien is a legal claim against an aircraft for unpaid services, repairs, storage or supplies provided to the aircraft. This lien ensures that the service provider has a legal right to hold the aircraft or receive payment before the aircraft is released or used by its owner. It essentially ties the debt to the aircraft itself, rather than just to the aircraft owner or operator.

Filing a lien

To file a mechanic’s lien, you must have provided a specific type of service to the aircraft. This includes repairs, maintenance, storage or the provision of fuel. The services must be directly related to the aircraft and necessary for its operation or maintenance.

The process for filing a mechanic’s lien varies by jurisdiction but generally involves filing a claim with a local court or aviation authority. The claim must typically detail the services provided, the amount owed and the identification details of the aircraft (such as the tail number). Timeliness is critical, as there are often strict deadlines for filing after the service is rendered.

Once a lien is filed, the aircraft cannot be legally flown or sold until the debt is paid or the lien is otherwise resolved. To enforce the lien, the lienholder may have to take legal action, potentially leading to the sale of the aircraft to satisfy the debt. The enforcement process can be complex and may require legal assistance.

Before resorting to a mechanic’s lien, business owners may want to consider alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or negotiation. These approaches can often resolve payment issues more quickly and with less expense and conflict. Nevertheless, if it becomes necessary to file for a lien, it can be an invaluable collections resource for sure.  

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