Helicopters Magazine

Aviation associations urge reopening of U.S. aircraft registry

January 22, 2018  By HAI

In a letter to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao, six general aviation leaders have called for reopening the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) United States Aircraft Registry. Despite the current government shutdown, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and fellow GA groups argued that the U.S. Registry performs essential functions for safety, security and fulfilling international aviation treaties.

“We respectfully submit that DOT has authority under the Anti-deficiency Act to staff the U.S. Registry,” the letter reads, “as it is vital to protection of human life and property, and necessary for the U.S. to fulfill its ongoing international legal obligations.”

Even during a government shutdown, certain essential functions are exempted from closure. The letter cites several national security, law enforcement and aviation safety functions that rely on the U.S. Registry, as well as treaties related to the registration of aircraft.

Review a copy of the GA leaders’ letter in its entirety.

The closure of the U.S. Registry also precludes the delivery of aircraft, as the GA groups make clear. General aviation aircraft and parts cannot be purchased, sold, financed or maintained without the written approval of the FAA personnel who staff the registry. According to the FAA, 10,000 aircraft registrations expire each month.


“The U.S. Registry’s closure had a profound impact on our manufacturers and workforce during the 2013 government shutdown,” the GA leaders write, “as it disrupted hundreds of aircraft transactions valued at over $1.9 billion.”

Citing the legal framework for the FAA to meet its vital and binding obligations, the GA leaders argue the registry performs several essential functions, including:

  • Safety: FAA officials have said that out-of-date registration information (including safety-related information) could possibly result in loss of property or personal injury.
  • Security: As FAA officials have also said, “various levels of law enforcement have used and continue to use registration data for drug and other law enforcement purposes.” Additionally, those efforts “now have expanded to include matters of homeland security.”
  • International Treaties: The U.S. Registry is obligated, under international aviation treaties, to provide other nations with aircraft ownership information, when requested. These agreements include the Chicago Convention and the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment (“Cape Town Convention”).

Underlining these essential functions, and the enormous economic consequences, the GA leaders conclude the letter by urging Secretary Chao, in the strongest possible terms, to immediately reopen the aircraft registry.

Signing the letter are: Mark Baker, president and CEO, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; Ed Bolen, president and CEO, NBAA; Pete Bunce, president and CEO, General Aviation Manufacturers Association; Martin Hiller, president, National Air Transportation Association; Jack Pelton, chairman and CEO, Experimental Aircraft Association; and Matthew Zuccaro, president and CEO, Helicopter Association International.


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