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N-reg / G-Reg vs EASA/FAA conversion


I’m aware that the answer to this question would probably rival the bible in size… Nevertheless, as someone going though the purchase of a first plane, I need to hear from fellow (and experienced) pilots.

I’m in the process of buying a used Cirrus. Most Cirrus, for a reason I don’t really know, are on the N Reg.

I’m a EASA/UK pilot. Initially, I just thought that I would get a N reg and move it to G. But now, after reading about the complexity and pitfalls of the process, I’m just wondering if I just should convert my license to the FAA.

Any thoughts on this would be much appreciated.

EGSU, United Kingdom

Many (I wouldn‘t say most) Cirrus are N-reg because Cirrus is in the US, and by default, aircraft are delivered N-reg. And many buyers here in the past

either thought that maintenance and airworthiness would be easier then on a European reg (which CAN be true)

or thought that change of registration process would be a potential trouble and therefore decided to just stay N-reg, despite not believing in any further advantages.

And because getting an FAA license based on a European license can be an easy exercise (if you have the right contacts).

N-reg can also be a disadvantage though, particularly if you don‘t have an IA nearby (rather unlikely in the UK).

So, you are in the same situation. You have decide yourself whether the above are any factors.

An additional one could be future resale to the US (very high prices obtainable atm) which would of course be much easier if the aircraft is N-reg.

Last Edited by boscomantico at 18 Oct 15:57
Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany

The going trend nowadays is to leave it where it is (EASA vs N). For G-reg it will depend if the (pre Brexit) rules are kept or altered.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to keep license/ratings valid for both jurisdictions and would prefer the plane to be registered in my home state (or EASA).

In your case, that would be G-reg.

It really depends how much effort and cost it requires to go from N to G.

always learning
LO__, Austria

If I had to pick a bun fight, between Flight Crew Licencing or a change of aircraft registry, it would be Flight Crew Licencing every day of the week.

Always easier to get help on Flight Crew Licencing. If you do buy an aeroplane and it’s N-reg… your worst case scenario is $13k USD and it’s ferried back where it was born to a land of ready buyers.

Buying, Selling, Flying
EISG, Ireland

I can’t speak for this specific case but a few months back I ran into an SR22 owner at Cannes who was just taking his planeout for its first flight on F reg after transferring it from Spain. It had taken 11 months, during which he couldn’t fly the plane. Makes getting an FAA or EASA license seem a pretty good deal.

LFMD, France

Snoopy wrote:

The going trend nowadays is to leave it where it is (EASA vs N)

I think there is good reason for that trend. Changing country of registration seems to be a painful process of jumping hurdles regardless of the registration. I’ve heard several horror stories when changing from one EASA registration to another. It seems that the new CAA sees it as an opportunity to deep-dive the aircraft history and generate a lot of paperwork ($$$).

LSZK, Switzerland

I’m so grateful for all your inputs! This is what this forum is a must-need community.

Thank you so much!

EGSU, United Kingdom

I’ve heard several horror stories when changing from one EASA registration to another. It seems that the new CAA sees it as an opportunity to deep-dive the aircraft history and generate a lot of paperwork ($$$).

As always, it depends. Known airplane? Documentation situation? Everything in order?

EASA to EASA is pretty straightforward. The existing ARC remains valid (at least it was that way for the transfers I assisted with).

N → EASA has also gotten „easier“ thanks to the BASA.

It sounds like F- isn’t a good option if it takes 11 months for a reasonably new and standard plane like a Cirrus.

always learning
LO__, Austria

EASA to EASA is pretty straightforward

Even with 20 years engine and 1000h past TBO

Last Edited by Ibra at 18 Oct 21:47
Paris/Essex, France/UK, United Kingdom

The answers to the OP’s questions are very long, and highly dependent on

  • his base country (UK is ok for N-reg but you “need” dual papers since Dec 2021: UK CAA and FAA)
  • his country’s attitudes to foreign reg planes (UK is ok)
  • his personal (airport base, local maintenance politics, etc) situation e.g. whether an A&P or better still A&P/IA is nearby
  • availability of a hangar where a freelance mechanic can work (a dramatic benefit regardless of reg but especially so for N-reg because most US mechanics are freelance by default whereas EASA66 guys are usually employed)
  • his willingness to collect US papers (many threads on that – a recent one and bear this in mind)
  • whether a PPL or an IR holder too
  • medical situation (for some conditions EASA is easier, and vice versa)

I know of EASA to EASA transfers which went spectacularly wrong, and after “solving the problem imaginatively” the plane was sold very fast EASA to N or vice versa can go wrong too but people half expect difficulties there so are prepared, whereas everybody has been telling everybody that EU to EU is just a paperwork job, but a) the transfer can and has failed on papers inspection alone, b) there is no assurance of it being just a paper job, c) and those which were problematic were kept off the forums because nobody wants the person they sold the plane to to find out the history… i.e. same old problem.

I am N-reg and will stay on it, but I obtained an FAA CPL/IR back in the days I was younger and had more appetite for chasing stuff, have a good arrangement for a BFR, the FAA IR is easy to keep current using the 6/6 rolling currency, I always had a UK PPL+IMCR and now I just need to maintain the UK IR and once a year I have to do a run-around to get the two medicals. If I went N-reg today (buying an N-reg plane) I would probably do a 61.75 PPL and the Foreign Pilot exam IR (which needs just the one UK medical) or do the above linked conversion (which gives you a standalone FAA PPL/IR but needs two medicals).

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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