GA Associations: DOT Urgently Needs to Exercise Legal Authority to Reopen Aircraft Registry
October 8, 2013 - In a letter to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and a group of general aviation (GA) leaders today made a forceful argument for reopening the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) United States Aircraft Registry on the grounds that it is necessary for the FAA to provide "essential services" to ensure aviation safety, protect security and to fulfill U.S. international obligations.
"We respectfully submit that DOT has authority under the Anti-deficiency Act to staff the U.S. Registry, as it is vital to protection of human life and property, and necessary for the U.S. to fulfill its ongoing international legal obligations under the Chicago Convention and the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment ('Capetown Treaty') relating to the registration of aircraft," the letter reads.
General aviation aircraft and parts cannot be produced, financed, bought or sold without the written approval of the federal government, which has to register every aircraft. According to the FAA, 10,000 aircraft registrations expire each month.
The GA leaders' letter argues that the closing of the aircraft registry as "nonessential" during the partial government shutdown is having an increasingly detrimental impact on the industry, and on the FAA's ability to carry out its legal obligations in the areas of safety, security and international treaty functions.
"The FAA has long recognized the importance of accurate U.S. Registry information in carrying out its responsibilities in overseeing the safety and operation of aircraft on the U.S. Registry," and "in fulfilling its obligations under international treaties governing aviation," the letter notes.
Citing the legal framework for FAA's reliance on the registry to meet these binding obligations, the letter notes:
- FAA officials have made clear that accurate, current U.S. Registry information is required for the agency to carry out its safety responsibilities. The GA leaders' letter is accompanied by a document detailing regulations making clear the importance of the registry in the FAA's ability to meet its safety duties.
- The continuing operation of the U.S. Registry serves an important security function. In the document accompanying the GA leaders' letter, the point is made that, "While various levels of law enforcement have used and continue to use registration data for drug and other law enforcement purposes, their efforts now have expanded to include matters of homeland security."
- The U.S. Registry is obligated, under international treaties relating to aviation, to provide information, including ownership data, on aircraft in a timely manner whenever requested by other contracting nations.
The GA leaders conclude their letter by urging Sec. Foxx, "in the strongest possible terms," to re-open the U.S. Aircraft Registry.
Signing the letter are: Ed Bolen, president and CEO, NBAA; Mark Baker, president and CEO, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; Jack Pelton, Chairman of the Board, Experimental Aircraft Association; Pete Bunce, president and CEO, General Aviation Manufacturers Association; Matthew Zuccaro, president and CEO, Helicopter Association International, and; Thomas Hendricks, president and CEO, National Air Transportation Association.