The Isle of Man (IoM) Aircraft Registry has proved to be one of the most successful in the industry, with over 500 business aircraft logged by its fifth anniversary this year.

Another 18 aircraft have been booked since May, says IoM Director of Civil Aviation Hartley Elder, adding that “we expect another 30 to be added by yearend and predict the total could reach 700-plus by 2014.”

The Isle of Man is a Dependency of the British Crown with a high degree of internal autonomy that gives it responsibility for its own internal legislation and tax matters. Elder says that the success of its M- prefix register is down to a number of other factors, such as “our standard of personal service and user friendliness.”

The launch of the registry was fortuitous, as it came at a time when the aviation economic cycle was in a climb and huge numbers of new business jets were being purchased.

“Owners like the anonymous aspect of the register, its safety standards and conformity to the highest international standards,” Elder tells AviationWeek. “The real clincher for us is that we spend time and effort in helping clients to understand what they have to conform with, and if they have plans and processes that we see as convoluted and difficult we’ll give them general advice on making a more cost effective and efficient route to follow. We also say to clients that we will deliver the same service standard on leaving the register as on joining, and this has already brought repeat business.”

Another major factor was that the IoM Civil Aviation Authority was assigned its now famous M prefix. Elder explains that it so easily could have been given VP-M as its prefix, which would not have had a fraction of the appeal since owners can create five-letter words to adorn their aircraft starting with the letter M. “Clients pay a premium price for these out-of-sequence registrations,” he says, noting that out of 500-plus aircraft registered in the IoM to date, fewer than six owners have opted for a non-personal registration.

There has been a slight downturn in business, “but right now we are seeing the start of an improvement – it tends not to be from Europe but more from the Middle East, Far East and a little from Africa,” Elder says. “The signs are clearer in other places rather than in Europe, even though we are getting some aircraft from Europe. On a global scale the climb back from recession has started.”