FAA Missing Info On 119,000 Planes

The FAA says its records are in such disarray that its afraid that criminals could buy planes “without the government’s knowledge” or use the registration numbers of other planes. The agency has ordered all aircraft owners to re-register.

CBSNews says planes with “questionable registration” are rampant, and the FAA can’t tell if the planes are flying or if they’ve been junked.

Already there have been cases of drug traffickers using phony U.S. registration numbers, as well as instances of mistaken identity in which police raided the wrong plane because of faulty record-keeping.

Next year, the FAA will begin canceling the registration certificates of all 357,000 aircraft and require owners to register anew, a move that is causing grumbling among airlines, banks and leasing companies. Notices went out to the first batch of aircraft owners last month.

“We have identified some potential risk areas, but I think we’re trying to eliminate as much risk as possible through the re-registration process,” said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown.

The paperwork disaster has already lead to some unpleasant consequences for flyers. CBS tells the story of a couple of flight instructors who were held at gunpoint by federal agents who mistook their plane for one that was stolen in 2002.

“It’s very, very scary,” the flight instructor told CBS. “If this keeps happening to people, somebody’s going to get shot.”


Edit Your Comment

  1. deejmer says:

    Hey FFA….we have these things called “databases” and they can be created and managed ELECTRONICALLY!!!! Cutting edge i know. Who are the directors who get paid to manage these organizations and why do they still have jobs?!

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      Oh and, opening up a box of paranoia, if I can get an EZPass that logs the presence of my car in toll booths, why cant they make an EZPass out of black box material and put that on planes and keep track of that?

      I can microchip my dog for pete’s sake. If they are that concerned about it, why not take more trouble with it? The DMV has no problem reminding us to renew our registrations.

  2. inelegy says:

    Waitaminnit . . . a Federal agency, ultimately charged with keeping you safe, is a mismanaged clusterfuck?

    Somebody help me . . . I’m so shocked that the room is spinning.

    /Health care, just you wait, blah, blah blah.

  3. TuxthePenguin says:

    I would wonder if the FAA is waiving all registration fees… probably not.

    • lolBunny says:

      I was thinking the same thing. They are making money off of their mistake, this doesn’t seem quite right to me…..

      • Blueskylaw says:

        Sort of like when credit card companies took big financial bets and lost and are now raising rates and fees due to “poor economic conditions”

  4. SonarTech52 says:

    Tis the season to lose airplanes, FAA la la la la …

  5. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    So is this my chance to register NCC-1701-D?

  6. Megalomania says:

    We screwed up – now fix it for us!

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      To be fair, and not giving them a pass for screwing up in any way, what else can they do? I can’t think of another way they can handle this. (Hopefully there will be no registration fee, however.)

  7. peebozi says:

    This is going to cut into corporations profits…it’ll never stand.

  8. Bad_Brad says:

    Meh. As long as we still get to be felt up by total strangers every time we get on a commercial airplane, I feel perfectly safe.

  9. Red Cat Linux says:

    They probably had a little old lady and a card catalog prior to this. Then the little old lady retired.

    Think the elderly clerk in Monsters Inc. with the catseyes glasses.

  10. Urgleglurk says:

    Part of the Republican strategery. They’ve starved the government of funds since Reagan’s era. Many routine functions get cut or are underfunded to concentrate resources elsewhere on more critical problems. When things like this happen, they then scream that government doesn’t work. It’s all apiece of Grover Norquist’s “Starve the beast and drown in in the bathtub” strategy.

    If you think it’s bad now, wait a few more years…Drug runners knew how to change N-numbers back in the 1970’s. Nothing new there.

  11. Chmeeee says:

    I’ll just leave this here…


  12. TardCore says:

    I know it’s super trendy and cool to bash the gov, but the way I read this it’s not really the FAA’s fault. After the initial registration nobody is required to update records. So if the plane is destroyed or flooded, sold or stolen or you just park it and never fly again nobody knows. The case would be the same if cars were treated the same way. If the only report came upon initial sale would the state have the slightest idea who the car belonged to or where it was? Of course not.

  13. Economists Do It With Models says:

    And if criminals hadn’t thought of this before, they have now. Thanks Consumerist!

    (I am mostly kidding, and I don’t actually support rampant withholding of information due to vague and unsubstantiated national security concerns. That said, I can see intuitively how information like this could become problematic.)

  14. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    “He says the sun came out last night. He says…it sang to him.”

  15. spamtasticus says:

    Damn Tax cuts. They just passed the extension of the cuts and our well funded, well run federal agencies are already suffering as a result. Lets find another way to give them more of our hard earned money so they can keep us safe.

  16. Telekinesis123 says:

    FAA has the records on this plane but will not release them. A plane with 5 tons of cocaine in it that used to be used to run prisoners to guantanamo bay, owned by a CIA front company. I’m not surprised they are like this, they have to keep their businesses running right?