What will you need to import an aircraft into Canada?

Before you buy, speak with an MD-M to ensure the aircraft you are considering is elligible for importation into Canada. Once the aircraft is here it will have to go through the importation process.  There are two ways to import an aircraft.  One with an Export Airworthiness Certificate and the other option is without one.
If you bring in an aircraft without an Export Certificate of Airworthiness it will need an annual inspection or equivalent.
The inspection workscope will have to be submitted to the MD-M to ensure the work planned will satisfy the requirements of import.  A package will have to be assembled to submit to the MD-M and must consist of the following items:

  • Completed aircraft importation checklist, MSI 26;
  • Completed Application for Certificate of Airworthiness form 24-0043;
  • Original Certificate of Airworthiness for Export where applicable;
  • Current aircraft time and cycles;
  • Copies of appropriate records of Engine, propeller and APU data, respecting last inspection, overhaul, hot section inspection, etc.;
  • Copies of the appropriate portions of the maintenance records;
  • Copies of the Type Certificate and revision status for aircraft, engine and propellor as applicable, Supplemental Type Certificates, etc.;
  • Details of deficiencies noted during the inspection;
  • Copy of the work report required to bring the aircraft into compliance;
  • Details of the aging aircraft / Supplemental Structural Inspection programs, etc.;
  • Current weight and balance report and equipment list;
  • List of repairs or modifications, including 24-0045 forms, FAA 337 forms, validations of field approvals etc.;
  • List of applicable and accomplished Airworthiness Directives;
  • List of Service Bulletins incorporated; and
  • Verification of all life limited and TBO parts and components i.e a listing.
Copies of the required forms can be obtained from the link section below.

As a side note, I do not personally recommend C of A's for Export from the United States.

Is the Pre-purchase Inspection for you?

I have the unique opportunity to see a lot of people buy and import aircraft being a Minister's Delegate.

Some people opt for pre-purchase inspections, while others decide it's not worth it.  Some people decide to look at the aircraft themselves, some people hire American A & P mechanics and still others hire friends who are more senior pilots to look at the aircraft for them.  One thing is certain; everybody does it differently.

Before you chose a method of looking at an aircraft and deciding if it's right for you, deciding if it's within your budget, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is the person looking at the aircraft for you familiar with the Canadian requirements of import?
  2. Where did this person gain this experience?
What are you risking by looking at the aircraft yourself, or having someone not qualified look at it for you?  You could conceivably purchase an aircraft that is not eligible for import into Canada.  I once witnessed a guy purchase a small Cessna.  He got a great deal and had a pilot look at it for him.  After the deal was done, he found out that the new interior was not certified.  The interior had to be completely replaced and the great deal went out the window.  I saw an aircraft that had had some major repairs performed on it. The repairs did not meet the requirements and the new owner had to hire an AME to redo the repair at an expense in the thousands.  I've seen aircraft with wrong engines, wrong props, illegal modifications, missing records and modifications not accepted in Canada.  So to answer the question of what you are risking; you are risking your hard earned savings for an aircraft you may never fly.

Once you've found an aircraft you are interested in, the first step in looking at the aircraft would be to contact the current owner and gather all the details you can about the history and condition of the aircraft.  Ask the owner specifically about any modifications embodied on the aircraft or any interior work completed.  Ask the owner to send you copies of all US form 337's.  Once you're serious about the aircraft, order the CD from the FAA with all of the historical records on file.  The CD is only $10.00 and has copies of all modifications and a history of owners and Certificates of Airworthiness. It's a great way to replace missing records or confirm what mods have been done on the aircraft. The CD comes fairly quickly.  Another option that is virtually immediate is Plane Fax.  At Plane Fax, you can order the historical files for $19.00 and have them emailed within two hours.  I've seen many a new owner have to hire AME's to inspect aircraft and create new paperwork that could have been obtained from the CD or Plane Fax.

Ultimately, an MD-M will need to review the modifications to ensure they are acceptable in Canada.  If they are not acceptable, the MD-M can tell you what it will take to get them acceptable in Canada.  This process will also aid you in forming your estimate for import.  A link to the FAA site where you can order the CD, or Plane Fax can be found in the links section below.

Arrangements can now be made to view the aircraft.

I would strongly caution people not to fly the aircraft until it has been inspected.  You do not likely know the seller or owner.  Too many times people have flown aircraft to me prior to it being looked at only to find potentially dangerous things wrong with it.

The aircraft should be looked at by a qualified AME.  Have a general look over the aircraft.  Confirm the aircraft is as it was presented.  Look through the records and ensure they are complete.  Aircraft can be imported with missing records, but it depends on what is missing.  The value of the aircraft also drops should any records be missing.  Do a thorough check on all Airworthiness Directives to ensure they have all been completed.  Look through past entries for consistent problems.  Check to see if the aircraft has had scheduled maintenance within the required times.   Aircraft that have had maintenance done past due times can be an indication of poor maintenance. Review the engine overhaul entry.  Was it done by a reputable shop or just an A & P?    Look for any past engine compression numbers to compare against current numbers.

Perform a ground run on the aircraft and check for proper power.  Function check everything in the aircraft and check for proper operation.

Remove the engine cowlings and check the engine model and serial number against the aircraft Type Certificate.  Check the propeller model and serial number against the Type Certificate.  Check the aircraft data plate and review the aircraft serial number against the Type Certificate.

Perform an engine compression check.

The above is the start of a pre-purchase inspection and is in no way complete.  Some future owners like to perform an annual inspection and call that the pre-purchase.  Some people perform the above and let the aircraft guide you in what you look at.  For an aircraft imported into Canada without a C of A for export, an annual inspection is not required.  A qualified AME can determine the state of the aircraft without performing a complete inspection

The pre-purchase inspection will get you a list of everything wrong with the aircraft and allow you to negotiate the final purchase price.

I've seen a lot of people look at and buy aircraft without a qualified AME looking at it.  Some have been successful, or lucky, while others have ended up paying more.

So is the pre-purchase inspection for you?  You decide.

How do I get the aircraft home?

There are two ways to get the aircraft home.  It can be flown under US registration or it can be flown under Canadian registration.

A Canadian licenced pilot can not legally fly a US registered aircraft without a US pilot licence.  This is one reason for utilizing a ferry pilot.

If the aircraft is flown under US registry, it cannot be de-registered until it arrives in Canada.  Some owners do not like their aircraft being moved pending a sale while it remains registered to them.   In actual fact, the sale occurs after the aircraft arrives in Canada.  The money is put in escrow and the sale is finalized once the aircraft is in Canada. The aircraft cannot be flown if it is not registered.

The other option is to fly the aircraft under Canadian registration.  This means that it must first be de-registered in the US.  This process alone can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks depending on the FAA.  Once US de-registration has been received by Transport Canada in Ottawa, the aircraft can be registered Canadian.  A Canadian registration is not a flight authorization.  Once registered, the US numbers will have to be removed and the new Canadian registration installed.  There are size requirements to be met per the Canadian Aviation Regulations.  With the aircraft now registered Canadian, you will need a Canadian flight permit along with a FAA validation of the flight permit.  The permit must be approved by both countries prior to flight.

When planning your return flight to Canada be aware that your first point of entry into Canada is where you will be required to pay tax.

Now that the aircraft is here, what now?

Once the aircraft is in Canada, the import process can begin.  For an import, Maintenance Staff Instruction number 26 must be completed and submitted to an MD-M (Minister's Delegate, Maintenance).  A copy of this form can be obtained from the links section below.  An annual inspection is also required.  The MD-M cannot perform the work required for import.  This work must be completed by a qualified AME.  To import any aircraft it requires both an AME and an MD-M.

Perform the inspection and assemble the package for submission to the MD-M.  The MD-M will then inspect the aircraft and the package and issue the Certificate of Airworthiness.

You will be given a copy of the import package to retain with your aircraft records.

Obtaining a US Pilot licence

Can I go to the FAA office with my Canadian licence and walk out with a US licence?

In short no.  You will be required to complete the  Verification of Authenticity of Foreign License, Rating, and Medical Certification form and send it along with copies of your documents to Oklahoma.  They will in turn review your application and contact Transport Canada in Ottawa to verify your licence.

Once that has happened, they will send you a letter to take with you to the FSDO you requested.  They will also send a copy of the letter to the FSDO of your choice.  You will need to call the FSDO and make an appointment.  They must have the letter in their possession before you can schedule the meeting.  Once the two letters are together, with you and your original documents at the FSDO, they will issue you a licence.
This only applies to get a Private Pilot licence.  It does not matter what licence you hold.  In order to obtain a Commercial licence you will need to write exams.

It takes time.  My ordeal took about three months.