Month: March 2017

The Legal Requirements for Amateur-Built Aircraft

Experimental, or amateur-built, or homebuilt aircraft have become, in many cases, extraordinarily sophisticated machines; some rival or exceed the comfort, speed, range, and performance specifications of many factory-built airplanes. Consider the world’s best-selling general aviation airplane, the Cirrus SR-22: it got its start in the 1980s as the VK-30, a kit plane marketed to the then-new and growing kit plane market. Today, the ancestor of that composite kit plane is a factory-built, high performance beauty that starts at $520,000. One big reason that amateur built planes have become so popular (the fellow at the Experimental Aircraft Association told me 35,000-40,000 homebuilts are registered and presumably flying today) is because one can get a terrific plane for a fraction of the cost of a new one. After all, the labor is free(?) and the cost of development, testing, and liability has been sharply reduced. Given that folks routinely have access to tools and equipment and knowledge that was not so readily available a generation ago, one can reasonably expect to build a plane at home, in a year or less.

The rules and regulations regarding rights and responsibilities (couldn’t help it) that a home builder must be familiar with are outlined in the FAA Advisory Circular AC 20-27G. The Advisory Circular does not have the weight of law, but Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 21, Certification Procedures for Products and Parts, § 21.191(g) Experimental certificates does. The meat of the matter is that a builder(s) must complete at least 51% of the aircraft, for their own education or recreation. Before a builder schedules an inspection, he or she must register the plane, because the completed plane will need the N-number clearly marked typically in 12” letters and numbers, two-thirds as wide as they are high, spaced no less than one fourth the character width . . . and so on. For this, a builder will need to provide proof of ownership and an affidavit certifying that the aircraft was built from parts or a kit. File form 8050-1 to register. When that’s done, and the plane is all but perfect, the builder can schedule an inspection. The FAA has airworthiness inspectors who are often booked a ways out, and there are designated airworthiness representatives who are deemed by the FAA to be qualified to issue airworthiness certificates. In my case, four gentlemen went over my building logs, particularly for the engine, before they came to the site and poked over 164SH for four hours. After that, I was issued an airworthiness certificate and a repairman’s certificate. The repairman’s certificate allowed me to maintain the plane, which represents a considerable cost savings in the long run.

If you or someone you know is considering building or purchasing a plane, feel free to sit down with me over a cup of coffee, and I’ll help you with the many factors to consider.

Stan Tupper is a private pilot with a seaplane rating. He built N164SH for a private party.

Reletting Versus Subleasing: What’s the Difference?

When you enter into a lease agreement— whether commercial or residential— it is important to understand the differences between reletting and subleasing.  Many lease agreements are very restrictive about either reletting or subleasing, but they do sometimes allow for such arrangements with the written consent of the landlord.  If you are considering entering into a lease that you may ultimately need to terminate before the agreement’s expiration, be aware that subleasing and subletting often present major challenges.   In the event that either reletting or subleasing is permitted, it is important to understand the effects and potential consequences of each.

Reletting involves early cancellation of the original lease, releasing the original tenant from the agreement’s terms and obligations, and the landlord enters into an entirely new agreement with a new tenant.  This scenario is most common where the original tenant and landlord enter into a mutual agreement to terminate the original lease early.  The original tenant often remains responsible for rent and other terms of the agreement until the premises are relet.  However, the landlord is required to make diligent efforts to find a new tenant for the property.  Once the new tenant enters into an agreement to rent the property, the original tenant is not responsible for any unpaid rent and is not bound by any other terms or conditions of the original lease.   The new tenant is solely liable to the landlord under the new lease.

Subleasing, on the other hand, occurs when the original tenant— rather than the landlord— rents a portion of, or all of, the property to another.  Subleasing almost always requires the written consent of the landlord, according to the terms of the original lease.  When a sublease is permitted, the sublessee is responsible for paying rent set forth in the sublease and complying with the terms of the original lease, but the original tenant remains on the hook for any rent that goes unpaid by the sublessee and for other terms and conditions of the original lease.   Therefore, if the sublessee fails to pay, the original tenant must pay.  Likewise, if the sublessee causes damage to the property, the original tenant remains liable for damage not repaired by the sublessee.

The world of reletting and subleasing can get complex quickly, whether from the landlord’s perspective or the tenant’s perspective.  It is in your best interest to seek legal counsel from your attorney to protect your best interests if you are considering an arrangement involving reletting or subleasing.

Marijuana in Maine

On January 30th, 2017, it became legal under Maine state law for persons over the age of 21 to consume marijuana products on private property and begin cultivation for personal use. The legislature also became responsible for creating the regulatory structure under which the retail sale of marijuana products will take place, based on the framework and guidelines set forth by the referendum passed by the citizens of Maine.

The initiative sets out a framework for six main types of licenses related to cultivation, production, and sales of marijuana: a retail store license, a Cultivation Facility license, a Products Manufacturing license, a Testing Facility license, a Social Club license, and Occupational licenses. Except for the Testing Facility license, a person or entity may hold more than one kind of license, but each must be applied for separately and can be subject to different rules, requirements, and fees. Every individual who has an interest in or works for a retail marijuana store, cultivation facility, manufacturer, or testing facility will be required to undergo a criminal background check and hold an Occupational license.

There is no certainty over what the regulatory framework will eventually look like since the legislature has until February 2018 to create it. However, as laid out by the referendum, certain entities and individuals will be given preferences with respect to the granting of licenses and those with preference will be considered before those without preference. For example, preference will be given to caregivers who have three or more patients and have been a caregiver for two or more years. Additionally, entities may hold more than one kind of license but will only be given preference for one license in each class of license for which the entity applies. For instance, an entity may apply for two retail store licenses and a social club license, but can only use its preferential standing for one of the retail store licenses and the social club license, not all three. Additionally, licenses will only be given to those without preference once there are no other applicants for that type of license with preference left.

With respect to timing and implementation, the legislature has already amended the referendum as passed by the citizens. It passed an amendment allowing twelve months (instead of the referendum’s original nine months) to create the regulatory framework for retail sales of marijuana and marijuana products and to close a loophole that inadvertently removed penalties for people under the age of 21 using or cultivating marijuana. We will be paying close attention to not only the bills and amendments put forward by the Maine legislature and how they may affect local licensing and business operations but also any national developments under President Trump or newly appointed Attorney General Sessions in anticipation of the opening of the retail market.

While growing, selling, and using marijuana, either medical or for personal use, is legal in Maine, it is prohibited under federal law. The federal government classifies marijuana as a Class I substance, carrying the strictest penalties for possession and sales, and may at any time prosecute such possession or sale.