FAA Has No Clue About Who Owns Approximately 1/3 Of All Private And Commercial Planes

from the our-government-at-work dept

johnjac points us to the news that the FAA's record keeping is so bad that it is "missing key information" on who owns 119,000 out of 357,000 registered private and commercial airplanes. Apparently, the FAA is so bad at record keeping that its solution is to phase out every plane's registration and demand that everyone apply for a new registration to get its database back on track. Apparently, the old system was that you just had to register once, and then you were responsible for letting the FAA know if info changed, but not everyone does that. So, basically, the FAA is rather clueless about approximately 1/3 of what's in the sky.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Dec 13th, 2010 @ 6:41am

    [Cough] "spfluck wha..." ??

    The FAA owe me a new keyboard.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    A Dan (profile), Dec 13th, 2010 @ 6:58am

    To be fair...

    The numbers do include planes that may no longer fly. So the FAA is rather clueless about approximately 1/3 of what's on the ground.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 13th, 2010 @ 7:10am

      Re: To be fair...

      Maybe we should just stope at the word "clueless"?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      monkyyy, Dec 13th, 2010 @ 3:17pm

      Re: To be fair...

      who`s to say the terrorists couldn't fix one, or steal its info and paint it on the part on the side w/ numbers and letters on it (that is how they check who owns they plane right?)

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2010 @ 7:21am

    Would't the owners have to pay some form of tax for owning a plane (or is there no vehicle tax in the US?).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      btr1701 (profile), Dec 13th, 2010 @ 7:52am

      Re:

      > Would't the owners have to pay some form of tax
      > for owning a plane (or is there no vehicle tax
      > in the US?).

      Not federally. Each state has different rules on that sort of thing.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Michial Thompson, Dec 13th, 2010 @ 7:24am

    Ownership

    Each owner registers the Plane when purchased once. There is not annual fees for owning a plane. The FAA has enough built in costs to owning airplanes there are no need for further costs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Haywood (profile), Dec 13th, 2010 @ 7:39am

    It's not like there is a rash of unknown plane incidents

    The anarchist in me sees on reason for government to know or register anything. The only real reason is to get a hand in your wallet. It is probably the way it is to avoid the same reason most yachts are registered in more owner friendly countries.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Michial Thompson, Dec 13th, 2010 @ 7:57am

      Re: It's not like there is a rash of unknown plane incidents

      Airplanes was one of the last sensibly registered things in this country...

      The FAA has numerous requirements for maintenance on planes in order for them to be airworthy which makes sense, Registration is when you first buy it which puts you as owner of record for the plane. Then you are obligated to send in a change of address if you move and that is essentially all.

      At the state levels you have some issues with taxes, but it's in the states with Property (not land) Taxes.

      It sounds like the FAA is about to complicate a system that doesn't need it.

      As for the airplanes that they have no clue about, most likey most of them aren't airworthy and will never fly again anyway.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Dec 13th, 2010 @ 7:51am

    FAA

    And I'm sure there's a fee for the new registration.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Dec 13th, 2010 @ 8:16am

    I feel so much safer in our friendly skies...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Kingster (profile), Dec 13th, 2010 @ 8:24am

    I guess my question is, why are leasing companies and airlines whining? There's something fishy there, and the question wasn't answered in the article.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Vidiot (profile), Dec 13th, 2010 @ 8:29am

    Re-documenting only works with follow-up

    It's not unheard of to try to fix a porous system by requiring a one-time re-documentation... witness the large number of US states which forced drivers to appear in person with multiple high-value forms of identification, once the high number of phony licenses became apparent. The issue here, though, is follow-up -- a small plane with a lapsed or incorrect registration still has its original "N-number" painted on the tail, and unless the FAA begins spot-inspections in the field, it's possible to completely avoid any contact with system. In a few years' time, you're back to an identical state of affairs... once-registered aircraft now junked or sold, leaving meaningless entries on the books.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2010 @ 8:54am

      Re: Re-documenting only works with follow-up

      For that matter is there any review or enforcement linking the tail number to actual registration documents. I can't imagine that it would be difficult to register a plane, then get out a bucket of paint and put the same tail number on 3 more planes. Would anyone notice as long as you didn't park them next to each other.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2010 @ 8:33am

    Why would they want to know?

    Won't that make them complicit in knowingly permitting known drug lords to own aircraft?

    When did plausible deniability become a bad thing?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Gabriel Tane (profile), Dec 13th, 2010 @ 8:58am

    doot doot doodle-oodle doot doot do do

    anyone else have calliope music going through their head after reading this one?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Gary (profile), Dec 13th, 2010 @ 9:26am

    hmm

    I cant get on a plane without getting felt up and the FAA doesnt even know who owns the plane I am getting on?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Rose M. Welch (profile), Dec 13th, 2010 @ 9:45am

      Re: hmm

      More importantly, you can carry a baby on a plane and hold them in your lap, despite how dangerous it can be, because airlines don't want to lose those passengers, and pay their politicians well.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Rose M. Welch (profile), Dec 13th, 2010 @ 9:44am

    I don't know that I'd blame the FAA...

    ...because every time they try to do something sensible, they get shot down by Congress, et al. Quite a few of my family members work for, and have worked for, the FAA, and they've all been frustrated, time and time again, as their ability to both enforce existing regulations and to pass new regulations have been stymied.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    MD, Dec 13th, 2010 @ 10:50am

    Let's Be Fair

    Most of these planes are probably small 2 or 4-seaters that have either been retired, or owners have neglected to keep up the paperwork when they are sold. Add a few dodgy owners (drug smuggling) and the occasional paperwork flub, and I.m not surprised the numbers are that high. There's no paperwork requirement to say "my plan no longer flies".

    he simplest path is to make various actions - airworthiness cert, flight plans, air traffic control use, etc. - require valid registration.

    The other problem is that real enforcement means money, and I bet the FAA has been starved for small plane rule enforcement, concentrating on other issues.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Freedom, Dec 13th, 2010 @ 1:11pm

    For what's it worth...

    There is no federal tax on airplanes. At least in Arizona, you do have to register with the state and renew your registration on a yearly basis. In case you were wondering, AZ feeds off the FAA database, not the other way around. The registration fee is also minimal in AZ.

    Taxes are paid to feed the FAA via embedded fuel taxes.

    In the US, we enjoy a great deal of freedom to fly. Most smaller plane pilots are able to fly as easy as someone drives around town - they just hop into the plane and go without talking to a tower, FAA, etc.

    In short, even if the FAA had a 100% accurate ownership database, they still could never know who and what is flying in the skies at any single point of time without a massive change in the system.

    In the small plane world, a pilot will only deal with the FAA when they've broken some rule and gotten caught. In that case, then the FAA will make sure everything is in order, but the system is very much a reactive system and definitely not a proactive/check-point system.

    Just my two cents - freedoms are extremely hard to obtain and yet we give them up so easily. Only in a country as rich as America would you give up your Freedoms AND gladly pay more taxes to Uncle Sam to "protect you".

    Freedom

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Chris in Utah (profile), Dec 13th, 2010 @ 3:46pm

    So?

    Yes, we will molest you at the airport. No, even the "War on Drugs" was cause enough to get our records right.

    By the way CIA will be pissed if there funding source goes away.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This