Why are so many planes registered in Wilmington, DE?
August 19, 2010 5:38 PM   Subscribe

Is there really one airplane for every eight people in Wilmington, DE?

I noticed an oddity while looking at airplane registrations - Wilmington, DE has about 10,000 airplanes registered in it, and a population of about 73,000 according to the '06 census.

ILG is the biggest nearby airport - Which seems like a beautiful GA airport, but it only houses 300 or so.

I assume there's something going on here I don't get - What am I missing? Is it something tax-related? And, more importantly, if I get an airplane, can I take advantage of it?
posted by Orb2069 to Travel & Transportation around Wilmington, DE (4 answers total)
I'm going to make a wild guess and say it has something to do with Delaware's laws. Yes, tax related, the same reason that companies like MBNA are headquartered there.
posted by fixedgear at 5:44 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Concur with fixedgear. If the question is "why?," then the answer is money.

This site (advertising for asset protection) makes the following assertions:

"All aircraft and yachts, under our administration are registered to individual owner trustee corporations. This is important because the Trust agreement which the beneficial owner of the aircraft or yacht will have to sign will include indemnities in the event that the trustee is sued. Where an individual or a Trust company which registers itself directly as the owner of the aircraft or yacht is sued then they will claim against you under its indemnity. Where the Trustee is a separate trustee corporation for your use only, then you get the added protection of being able to rely on its limited liability for your protection."

Lots of corporations (with international presences) are registered in Delaware. Lots of opportunity for corporate ownership.

From another "asset protection" service based in Delaware:

"What are the advantages of selling the stock and assets of the corporation or LLC in lieu of the sale of the aircraft?

"In most cases, the prospective owner will have to pay a sales tax on the purchase of the aircraft. With this in mind from the outset, not only will the prospective owner derive the advantages of ownership as a corporation, when the aircraft is subsequently put up for sale, the owner has the flexibility of selling the aircraft as an asset of the corporation or selling the entire corporation of which the aircraft is the only asset. The latter circumstance is accomplished by simply transferring the shares of stock in the corporation over to the new owners.

"This arrangement can be very attractive to the prospective purchaser because title to the aircraft has not changed hands since it is still registered to the corporation. Therefore, no sales tax may be assessable on the transfer, and, no re-registration costs are incurred.

"In fact, an additional savings occurs because the aircraft does not need to be registered with the FAA and avoids the hassle.

"Why should I select the state of Delaware to Incorporate and protect my personal assets?

* Delaware is recognized as having a favorable tax climate. Delaware has

No sales tax **
No personal property tax
No intangible property tax or
No stock transfer tax"
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:03 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Delaware specializes in being a corporate haven. It's very likely that none of those planes actually reside there, it's just their legal home, just like those hundreds of thousands of large corporations that also call it their legal home but have significant operations elsewhere.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:50 PM on August 19, 2010

Wow, I actually work directly in this field and deal virtually evey day with LLCs based in Wilmington that own aircraft.

Without getting into gritty details, as above, yes, that totally seems possible, the crux being favorable tax law.

Keep in mind most of these planes never actually are IN Delware, they are just owned by a company with a Delaware address.
posted by 3FLryan at 8:48 PM on August 19, 2010

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