May 4, 2004 - The FAA has turned down a petition from a Massachusetts anti-noise group to require aircraft owners to put two-foot-high N numbers under their wings. As AOPA had argued in its comments on the petition, the FAA said the issue had been debated, studied, and decided years ago - the current 12-inch-high numbers on the fuselage are sufficient.
The FAA concurred with AOPA's comments that the issue had been addressed years ago and the current 12-inch numbers are appropriate. In its denial letter to William Burgoyne of the group Stop The Noise, the FAA said, "In considering the change to the 12-inch numbers [on the fuselage], the FAA worked extensively with law enforcement agencies, FAA field inspectors, the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Department of Defense, the FAA Air Traffic Service, and private citizens and citizen groups with concerns similar to those of your organization. Those groups agreed with the FAA that it was important to make the registration marks more visible. After extensive deliberation, the FAA decided on the 12-inch criteria."
"Stop The Noise has shown that it's willing to sue pilots even if the pilots are operating in full accordance with regulations," said AOPA Director of Regulatory and Certification Policy Luis Gutierrez. "This petition was just a thinly veiled attempt to make it easier for the group to go after other pilots."
AOPA has offered financial help to the four pilots that Stop the Noise has already sued and has provided significant legal research to aid in their defense. The cases against the pilots have not yet gone to trial.