Dorgan Urges Hearings on Aircraft Registration
Reacting to news reports that the FAA has missing data on nearly 120,000 of the nation’s 357,000 registered airplanes, retiring Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), chairman of the Senate aviation subcommittee, is recommending holding congressional hearings. In 2007 and 2008, the agency warned that the problem was causing loopholes that terrorists, drug traffickers and other criminals might exploit. It was concerned that a criminal might use an N-number to slip by computer systems designed to track suspicious flights. The FAA has begun a mandatory re-registration system to clean up the database requiring all aircraft owners to re-register their airplanes over the next three years. Until now, aircraft owners were required to register only once, when they purchased an aircraft. Errors accumulated over the decades as new purchasers forgot to register, owners died, invalid addresses went uncorrected and junked aircraft went unreported. House aviation subcommittee chairman Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) said the FAA needs to update its records but stopped short of calling for hearings.