FAA Registration Push Catches Public Eye

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The FAA's mandated re-registration of the civil aviation fleet has caught the attention of the mainstream media, who are reporting it as a response to a security threat. As we reported Oct. 19, all aircraft owners have to re-register. In its notice, the FAA characterized the move as an administrative housekeeping chore because it has lost accurate track of about 100,000 registrations. The FAA now seems to be going along with the security theme offered by the mainstream media.

"We have identified some potential risk areas, but I think we're trying to eliminate as much risk as possible through the re-registration process," said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown. Various stories cite the use of bogus N-numbers to "disguise" aircraft used for drug trafficking or other illicit activity. Just how re-registration will prevent the illicit adoption of N-numbers isn't clear, however, as Washington State Cheyenne owner Steve Lathrop told The Associated Press. Someone likely found his airplane on the FAA registry and put his registration on the plane they were using to smuggle drugs in South America. A reporter called him to ask if he knew that his airplane was in the jungle and a quick check confirmed it was safely in the hangar. "Anybody with a roll of duct tape can put any number they want on an airplane," Lathrop said.