FAA Aircraft Re-Registration Begins Next Month

    October 7, 2010 — According to the FAA, about one third of the approximately 357,000 aircraft registered in the United States have inaccurate records. To clean up what they say has become a database riddled with incorrect addresses, aircraft that have been destroyed, etc., the agency has made a decision to require all currently registered aircraft to be re-registered. Essentially they’re starting with an empty ledger, and will fill it out in the next three years.

    As spelled out in a Federal Register Notice published July 20, 2010, the rule establishes specific registration expiration dates over a three-year period for all aircraft registered before October 1, 2010, and requires subsequent re-registration every three years, according to a specific schedule. Re-registration of aircraft currently in the FAA database will occur between November 1, 2010, and December 31, 2013. The process is intended to update the U.S. Civil Aircraft Register, making it a more reliable database.

    It is important that each aircraft you own, regardless of its airworthiness status, be re-registered when the notice comes from the FAA, or its registration could be revoked. Even if the aircraft exists in basketcase form (or less!), it’s important to keep it properly registered.

    There are a number of changes to the aircraft registration system that each owner should pay particular attention to:

    • Each aircraft initially registered under the re-registration program will be registered for three years, expiring three years after the last day of the month in which it is issued. The re-registrations will be issued in quarterly blocks. (See this chart from the FAA to determine when you’ll be re-registering your aircraft.)
    • Thereafter, the aircraft registration expires three years from the expiration date of the previous certificate.
    • Re-registration and subsequent renewals will cost $5.

    The next aspect of the program is especially important to note: If you were thinking about not bothering with this re-registration program, you should know that the cancellation of the N-number assigned to an aircraft will take place approximately 90 days after the expiration of an aircraft’s registration. (Once canceled, the N-number will not be available for assignment or reservation for the next five years.) As it stands right now, without a current registration and N-number, an aircraft is deemed unairworthy, regardless of its annual inspection status.

    So how will you know if your aircraft’s registration is due for renewal? About six months before an aircraft’s registration expires, using the mailing address of record, the FAA’s aircraft registry office will mail a notice with instructions to the owner. The notice will identify the expiration date and the three-month window during which application must be made to ensure receipt of the new certificate before the old certificate expires. Again, refer to the chart for the timetable for initial re-registration.

    The third, fourth, and fifth months before expiration make up the timely filing window. A code provided in the notice allows online re-registration and payment of the $5 fee when there are no changes in ownership, address, or citizenship to report. If there are changes to report, the form can be completed online, printed, signed, and mailed with the $5 fee. No matter if there are no changes or there are revisions that must be made to the registration data, the form must be filled out online.

    Use this link for help: EAA's Guide to the New FAA Re-Registration Form

    How should you prepare for the upcoming re-registration? The FAA offers these tips:

    1. Look up your aircraft on the Search Aircraft Registration Information Web page and verify that the mailing addresses and the names of owners shown are correct. You can also confirm the Registration Certificate issue date. Please note that the Registration issue date is not the same as the Airworthiness Certificate issue date. For newer aircraft they may be identical if the aircraft was sold to the current owner immediately upon its manufacture, but for most aircraft the Registration Certificate will have a different date. That’s the date the FAA will be using when you re-register.
    2. If the mailing address is wrong, the owner should update the address promptly.
    3. If an ownership change has occurred, the seller should report the sale to the Registry, and the purchaser should submit their application for registration, evidence of ownership, and $5 registration fee to the Registry as soon as possible.

    One more note: A number of members have asked if they can just re-register now and not wait until the note from the FAA arrives. The short answer is, “No, you can’t.” The FAA’s explanation was that the Aircraft Registration Branch has only so many people working to input the data, and the procedure they’ve put in place will make certain that the workload will be consistent throughout the time period of the re-registration. The same holds true for the subsequent registration renewals. That’s unfortunate, since it means that aircraft owners of multiple aircraft will have to keep track and execute the re-registration process one at a time for each aircraft as their registration and renewal dates occur.

    For more information, visit the FAA’s Aircraft Registration Branch website or call EAA’s aviation services at 888-322-4636.



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