Registration NPRM draws industry fire

 - July 8, 2008, 6:25 AM

A proposal by the FAA to mandate that aircraft registrations expire every three years has elicited a mixed reaction from the industry, with lobby groups supporting the agency’s goal of improving the accuracy of the aircraft registry but raising concerns about the feasibility of the proposed method.

According to the FAA, the proposal is based on the need to increase and maintain the accuracy of aircraft registration information in the Civil Aviation Registry. The proposed procedures would ensure that aircraft owners periodically provide information about changes in registration.

The proposal would replace existing aircraft registrations, which have no expiration dates, with ones that would expire after three years. Aircraft owners who do not renew or re-register their aircraft in the time specified by the FAA could be denied access to the National Airspace System (NAS) or lose their registration numbers.

Currently, the FAA Registry maintains registration information on approximately 340,000 civil aircraft, but the FAA estimates approximately 30 percent of registered aircraft are no longer eligible for registration.

NBAA said it supports the FAA’s goal of enhancing the accuracy of the U.S. aircraft industry, but the association believes that the proposal would be expensive to administer and problematic for aircraft operators.

The association acknowledged that aircraft registration is an important tool for maintaining safety because the information is used by the FAA, other federal agencies and aircraft manufacturers for safety-related notices, delivery of airworthiness directives and flight-plan verification programs.

However, it disagrees that the proposed re-registration of aircraft and the renewal of aircraft certificates of registration will be efficient or cost-effective. Instead, it believes compliance will impose significant burdens on all aircraft owners.

Concerns about Cost

Like NBAA, AOPA does not agree with the FAA proposal. The association has suggested that the agency require registration verification–rather than re-registration–every three years. The verification could be completed online through the FAA’s aircraft registry database.

Because AOPA’s plan would use the FAA’s infrastructure for the Triennial Aircraft Registry Report, it could be implemented without imposing any additional fees, the association said.

The Air Transport Association (ATA), which represents the nation’s airlines, said the proposal “has the potential to wreak havoc” on the commercial air transportation system in the U.S. and elsewhere. The association also questioned the FAA’s ability to process approximately 240,000 and 340,000 applications every three years.

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) said it is generally supportive of the NPRM for re-registration and renewal “as outlined for safety and security reasons.” But it expressed concern about the FAA’s ability to manage the registration and renewal process in a timely and effective manner.

GAMA said it would support the NPRM only if the re-registration and renewal fees are specifically limited to cost recovery for processing the registration and renewal forms.

In its submission, the Helicopter Association International supported the proposition.