The FAA’s aircraft registry is out of date, not dangerous, AOPA explained to reporters Dec. 10 after media reports claimed that inaccuracies in the FAA’s aircraft registry “could be exploited by terrorists and drug traffickers.”
The FAA began a process of re-registration in November in effort to clean up the aircraft registry. An Associated Press story that received wide pick-up in other news outlets suggested that aircraft with “questionable registration” –such as inactive aircraft or ones with invalid addresses—are a gap in security that allows criminals to evade the authorities by using phony N numbers. While the registry does need to be updated, AOPA explained to reporters at multiple news outlets, it is not itself a security issue.
“We can understand how not knowing who owns a given aircraft might concern law enforcement officials, but the registry is not a gaping hole in security,” said AOPA Director of Media Relations Chris Dancy, who spoke with CNN, Fox News, the Associated Press, and other news outlets to attempt to set the record straight.
A layered approach to security keeps general aviation safe. Pilots and airport personnel across the country participate in AOPA’s Airport Watch looking out for suspicious behavior and reporting it to 866/GA-SECURE. All certificated pilots are vetted against existing watch lists, and foreign flight students are required to submit fingerprints and be vetted by the TSA. Suspicious flights are monitored by government agencies and ATC. And flights across the U.S. border undergo security screenings.