FAA Says No To Bigger N-Numbers For Noise Watchers

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The FAA has turned down a petition from the Massachusetts group "Stop The Noise" asking for two-foot-high N numbers under airplane wings, AOPA said yesterday. The FAA said the current 12-inch-high numbers on the fuselage were mandated after much deliberation and discussion, and there is no compelling reason to change that decision. "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." In its petition to the FAA, Stop The Noise's thin veil is pretty much transparent. The petition reads: "This proposed rule will require that all aircraft be marked so as to maximize the ability of those on the ground to identify any aircraft by its registration number. ... The ability of persons on the ground to identify offending aircraft will facilitate actions by these citizens to defend their lands from these airmen and to seek remedies in the regulatory and judicial arenas where, at the present time, they are stonewalled due to the practical inability to identify the offending aircraft. ... This results in toothless regulations, a pilot community that believes it is above the law, and a very frustrated non-flying public." The petition drew five comments, including AOPA's, all of which were opposed to the change. Stop The Noise has filed suit against four Massachusetts pilots to try to stop them from flying over their private property. AOPA has offered financial and legal help to the four pilots. The cases against the pilots have not yet gone to trial.