The Isle of Man aircraft registry expects to total nearly 200 business aircraft and helicopters by the end of the year - only 19 months after the service was established.

The independent British dependency in the Irish Sea has seen its registry of "M" prefixed business aircraft swell to 176 already this year and a 10 more will be added this month. The registry - the only one in the world dedicated solely to registering private aircraft - is based on a successful similar maritime scheme for "mega" yachts.

"We have been overwhelmed by the response," says Brian Johnson, the island's first director of civil aviation. Looking at the experience of other well-established offshore registers such as Aruba, Bermuda and Cayman, which have seen modest growth in their private aircraft inventories, "we really didn't expect our register to expand so quickly" Johnson adds.

"Unlike those registers, we do not register commercial aircraft, but this is huge advantage as we are able to provide a very personal and dedicated service to our customers."

Johnson admits the economic crisis has also helped to attract private owners and corporations to the register, which was set up as a cost-neutral entity by the Manx government, making registration and other related services significantly cheaper than most other national registers.

"The register has not been set up to make money, but to bring in business and employment to the island's banks, legal and insurance firms," says Johnson - and to position the territory as a centre for aerospace and aviation services.

Source: Flight International