The Isle of Man is more important than Switzerland

For the registration of aircraft the Isle of Man has a much larger possible range of identifiers than Switzerland, and a lot of aircraft coming to Geneva (some with nice registrations!). Is this related to its status as a tax haven?


All aircraft have a registration identifier, mostly painted on the side and indicating in which country the aicraft is registered.This identifier generally has a one or two character identifier, followed after a hyphen by a four or three character identifier. There are exceptions, notably aircraft registered in the USA and military aircraft.

Major countriess have a single letter country identifier: G for Great Britain, F for France, D for Gernamy, I for Italy. Switzerland has to make do with the two-character identifier HB (don't ask me why HB!).

One "interesting" country is the Isle of Man, which has the single letter M as its identifier. This means that, with the four remaining letters of M-????, it can have up to 456,976 registered aircraft, whereas Switzerland can have only 17,576 registered aircraft. This raises the possibility of many "nice" registrations: examples cited below.

Geneva airport welcomes many M-registered aircraft: the ARAG statistics show that there have been nearly 500 landing already this year, with some aircraft coming repeatedly.

Other interesting country identifiers are ones with a two-letter identifier starting with V. Possibly for historical reasons, many of these are listed as belonging to what used to be parts of the British Empire, but are now independent and quite frequently known as off-shore tax havens. A web page of Cayman Banking Services starts with a list of such countries (then invites people to open accounts with Swiss private banks!).

Particular country identifiers include VP-B??? for Bermuda, VP-C??? for the Cayman Islands and VP-L for the British Virgin Islands. Of these, there have been nearly 600 landings of aircraft from Bermuda (of which, curiously, 200 operated as flights of Aeroflot) and about 200 from the Cayman Islands.

To come back to the Isle of Man registrations, with such a choice of possible identifiers it seems that people can often choose something which looks nice. For example, a company called CTC Aviation Jet Services Ltd has registerd the aircraft M-AJOR and M-INOR, both of which have been noted very frequently here. Other nice ones seen here are M-USHY of Flying Dogs Ltd, M-YSKY of Flightline. M-OODY of Forexline Ltd, M-YONE of Inflite Aviation, M-BIRD of Scorpian Aviation, M-SPEC of Specsavers Aviation, M-WHAT of Starspeed and M-TEAM of Mistral Aviation Guernsey. The one most frequently seen seems to be M-CHEM, of the INEOS petrochemical company. You can use the ARAG GAME to look up when any of these visited Geneva.

Of course, there are many aircraft with nice names which have not come to Geneva: you can see indications of these on the Isle of Man aircraft web site.

My own favourite is M-COOL, which apparently belongs to a lady in Monaco.

Man, that's cool!

14:52 Posted in Potpourri | Permalink | Comments (1) | Tags: geneva aircraft offshore banking | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook


Well, I didn't ask you why Switzerland is HB, but here is your answer.
And you'll also learn where the M comes from


Posted by: ML | 08/17/2010

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