Is the registration information on your aircraft current? Starting February 1, 2006, aircraft owners who fly an aircraft with "questionable registration" could receive a notice from the FAA, be cited with a deviation, and possibly be denied access to the National Airspace System.
"Any address change that you fail to report, any aircraft sale or pending registration that isn't followed up, and any triennial form that is returned because of a bad mailing address could flag an aircraft as 'questionable,'" said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. "The FAA has assured AOPA that it will not seek any type of enforcement action against a pilot who has rented an aircraft that isn't properly registered."
So far, the FAA is just strictly enforcing its current regulations and has not issued any new requirements, and AOPA is working to make sure that new ones aren't proposed in the future.
This crackdown is an effort by the FAA and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to increase national security by making sure that only properly registered aircraft are operating in the air traffic control system.
The best thing aircraft owners can do right now is use AOPA's Online N-number database to make sure their aircraft is properly registered.
But what can renters expect? If a renter files a flight plan, and the aircraft is flagged as questionable, the air traffic control tower or local facility will have the renter contact them to be connected to the FAA's Domestic Events Network. The renter will need to provide some information, such as the owner's name and the aircraft's home base, before continuing on to his or her destination. The FAA then will follow up with the owner.
AOPA has met with the FAA and TSA several times over the past two years to discuss the problems with outdated information in the FAA's Aircraft Registry. At the time of the most recent meeting, 33,000 aircraft were flagged as questionable.
The agencies indicated that if enforcing the current regulations does not work, the FAA might issue a rule requiring aircraft owners to re-register their aircraft every three years, paying a fee each time, of course. The FAA tried that in the 1990s.
"AOPA members were strongly opposed to the FAA rulemaking," Rudinger said.
If you recently purchased an aircraft and need to register it, AOPA offers an interactive online aircraft registration application that you can use to make sure you answer everything correctly. You still will have to fill out the FAA's Aircraft Registration Application 8050-1 form, but you can use the interactive form as a guide.
If you discover that your aircraft's registration is not current, contact the specialists in AOPA's Pilot Information Center to help you get the information updated. The specialists are available via e-mail or by calling 800/USA-AOPA weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern time.
December 15, 2005