September 28, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
With aircraft re-registration in progress according to a month-by-month schedule, and the FAA observing several instances of incorrect registration data loaded onto Mode S transponder units, AOPA is urging pilots to verify that registration information is updated on aircraft and installed Mode S transponders and 406 MHz emergency locator transmitters.
The FAA requires all aircraft registered prior to Oct. 1, 2010, to re-register their aircraft according to a specific schedule.
For aircraft registered in October of any year, the online re-registration period ends Oct. 31, and those aircraft will be grounded after Dec. 31, until the new registration arrives by mail. Owners of those aircraft who missed the online window must use Form 8050-1a to re-register their aircraft. Beginning Oct. 1, the FAA will mail notices for aircraft registered in November of any year; owners can utilize the code it contains to re-register online from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31, 2013.
With statistics indicating the possibility of a sizeable increase in lapsed aircraft registrations, the FAA is urging pilots to review this chart for their re-registration schedules, and allow sufficient time for their applications to be processed.
Mode S transponder may be selectively interrogated to respond with information such as flight identification—usually the aircraft N-number for general aviation aircraft. If the Mode S unit has been removed or replaced, or if the aircraft’s N-number has changed, that information may be incorrect. The FAA has noted several instances of this occurring during testing of ADS-B sites, as more general aviation aircraft are using Mode S transponders. The FAA has contacted individual owners about the discrepancies.
Owners are also required to register 406 MHz ELTs upon installation. A key code identifies the unit and provides access to contact information which allows search-and-rescue personnel to determine if a distress signal is valid, making it important for owners to ascertain that the registration information is correct.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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