EAA: Beware Offers To Register Your Airplane

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Image: Van's Aircraft

Image: Van's Aircraft

EAA is warning its members, and other aircraft owners, to think twice before signing up for aircraft-renewal services that charge hefty fees. “These businesses essentially duplicate the same process that the FAA directly administers for a mere $5,” EAA said in a post on its website. The FAA’s online registration portal is easy to use and provides a link to the two-page registration form (PDF) required.

“Unless a business is known to be reputable and offers a tangible service above and beyond a simple registration renewal, such as expedited processing or automatic renewal, EAA members [and other aircraft owners] should use the FAA’s online registration portal,” EAA said. Owners must register their aircraft every three years. “Renewal of registration every third year, along with other new tools, enables the registry to keep aircraft registration information current,” says the FAA. “This data is essential for safety, regulatory enforcement and all levels of law enforcement.”

Comments (1)

I have heard skepticism from aircraft owners about re-registration. They argue that we got along just fine for a century without it, without dire consequences. Owners already had both obligation to register, and incentive to do so; and sellers had incentive to report the sale.

They complain about the cost - to the FAA and the owner - of registration renewals. It's not just a cost to the owner (although, it does seem odd that it costs $5 to fill in a fill-it-yourself online form): the FAA has to operate a small empire to process all those registration renewals, and the FAA is already overworked, often with long processing delays for other matters. And, of course, there are enforcement costs, too.

They worry that re-registration may just be bureaucratic empire-building and security theater.

Obviously, as the FAA says above, they are wrong.

Still, to address their concerns, I think it might be helpful to illustrate how registration renewal is vital for safety, regulatory enforcement and all levels of law enforcement. For example:

- What percentage of in-service aircraft were incorrectly registered in the old system?
- How specifically does re-registration improve safety, compared to the old system? (e.g., what percentage of owners of active, in-use aircraft were not receiving ADs, but do now - and what percentage of them were using maintenance shops that did not look up the ADs?)
- And, translating that, how many accidents does the regulator believe have been prevented by re-registration? How many lives saved? How many does it think will be saved in the next, say, 10 years?
- How does local law enforcement use re-registration, in ways it did not use the old registry? (E.g., how often does local law enforcement use the database? How often did a local law enforcement search produce an outdated registration, under the old system? How often does the new database merely note that the registration has expired, or provide an "owner" that turns out to be a shell? How much of an improvement is the difference between those figures?)
- Translating that, how much crime reduction has local law enforcement achieved using the new system? Or, how many crimes have been solved, that would not otherwise have been?

Greater transparency, providing compelling answers along those lines might do a lot to address "security theater" skepticism, I would think.

Perhaps a member of the aviation press would like to follow up on that, and help FAA to get greater buy-in for the re-registration system?

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | November 29, 2018 8:23 AM    Report this comment

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