In the aftermath of the FAA’s new rule requiring reregistration of aircraft every three years, news media reports that the FAA had “missing data” on as many as 119,000 of the 357,000 U.S.-registered aircraft prompted a U.S. senator to call for congressional hearings.
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), chairman of the Senate aviation subcommittee, said he would recommend holding hearings on aircraft registration discrepancies. In reports in 2007 and 2008, the FAA warned that the problem was causing loopholes that terrorists, drug traffickers and other criminals might exploit. It was concerned that a criminal might use an N-number to slip by systems designed to track suspicious flights.
Dorgan’s counterpart in the House, Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), said the agency needs to improve its recordkeeping, but he stopped short of calling for hearings.
Until October, aircraft owners were required to register only once, when they purchased an aircraft. Errors accumulated over decades as new purchasers forgot to register, owners died, invalid addresses went uncorrected and junked aircraft went unreported.
The FAA said it uses the database to contact owners about safety problems and to help locate missing aircraft.