Tuesday, January 25


News accounts of federal officials having forced a Cessna aircraft to land at an airport in San Antonio, Texas, because of alleged smuggling of Chinese nationals, have been silent on whether or not a "Declaration of International Operations" had been properly filed with the FAA. That is doubtful, of course, since its co-owners neither re-registered the aircraft with the FAA when its registration elapsed in 2002, nor presumably provided authorities with "Change of Address" notification forms.

Registration of aircraft in the United States is confined to:

What aircraft are eligible for registration in the United States?

An aircraft is eligible for registration in the United States only if it is owned by:

1. A U.S. citizen. A U.S. citizen by definition of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) section 47.2 can be an individual, or partnership where each individual is a U.S. citizen, or a corporation organized under the laws of the United States, state, territory, or possession of the United States of which the president and at least two-thirds of the board of directors are U.S. citizens and 75 percent of the voting interest is owned or controlled by U.S. citizens.

2. A resident alien;

3. A corporation other than classified as a U.S. citizen, lawfully organized and doing business under the laws of the United States or of any state thereof, if the aircraft is based and used primarily in the United States; or

4. A government entity (federal, state, or local).

The aircraft may not be registered in a foreign country during the period its is registered in the United States.

If you purchase an aircraft, you must apply for a Certificate of Aircraft Registration from the Civil Aviation Registry before it may be operated. Do not depend on a bank, loan company, aircraft dealer, or anyone else to submit the application for registration. Do it yourself (in the name of the owner, not in the name of the bank or other mortgage company).

You can help make sure your aircraft is properly registered by verifying that the aircraft description entered on the Aircraft Registration Application and the Aircraft Bill of Sale (or equivalent) is identical to the data inscribed on the aircraft manufacturer's data plate. The data plate is permanently affixed to the aircraft fuselage by the manufacturer. This quick and simple check should help avoid delays in the issuance of the AC Form 8050-3, Certificate of Aircraft Registration.

Use of an original Aircraft Registration Application, AC Form 8050-1, is required. Photocopies and computer-generated copies of this form are not acceptable for the registration of aircraft. Aircraft Registration Applications may be obtained from the Aircraft Registration Branch or your local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). The applicant's physical location or physical address must also be shown on the application if a post office box (PO box) is entered as the mailing address.

Which begs the questions: what procedures does the FAA have in place to confirm that these rules have been adhered to when completed registration forms are submitted; and, when a registration elapses, what tracking methods are in place to determine whether or not the aircraft is being flown illegally, without benefit of a current, verifiable registration being on record?