Aircraft re-registration requirement on horizon

July 1, 2010

A rule requiring aircraft re-registration is awaiting FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt's signature and could go into effect this fall. Currently, there is a one-time aircraft registration with a $5 fee; the new rule would require that aircraft be re-registered every three years, and the fee for that is yet unknown. Exact details of the requirement and process won't be known until the rule is published in the Federal Register.

The rule, proposed in 2008, was intended to scrub the aircraft registry of invalid registrations. The FAA claims to have 343,000 aircraft currently on the registry and estimates that 104,000, or about one-third, are possibly invalid for various reasons. The FAA, in order to transition from the current non-expiring aircraft registration to one with a three-year expiration date printed on the certificate, proposed that all existing aircraft be re-registered. Owners would be given a three-month window, based upon the month of current registration

AOPA supported enhancing the validity of the aircraft registry but reiterated its concerns to the FAA that any new requirements and fees not impose an unnecessary burden on pilots. In its formal comments on the proposal, AOPA suggested an alternative. AOPA's plan would not have required expiring registrations; would have allowed owners to verify registry information online or through the existing Triennial Aircraft Registration Report; and would not have canceled N numbers for aircraft owners who did not re-register their aircraft on time. The association also met with the managers of the FAA's aircraft registry to discuss the concerns.