FAA’s Missing Data On One-Third Of Private And Commercial Aircraft Could Be A Security Threat To U.S. Safety

by Frieda Flyer on December 19, 2010

in Aviation Safety

According to a recent article by the Associated Press, the FAA has lost track of one-third of the private and commercial planes in the United States.  These lost documents pose a serious threat to America from terrorists and drug traffickers.

At a time when passengers of all ages are being humiliated and embarrassed at our airports because of pat-downs and x-rays as another level of homeland security to protect us from such threats, we learn the FAA – The Federal Aviation Administration – has no clue who is flying planes in the airspace over our heads and therefore no idea what their purpose may be. 

There have already been cases of police raids on the wrong place because of mistaken identity and cases of drug traffickers using phony U.S. registration numbers to freely fly their haul into our country. Registrations have missing forms and invalid addresses among other problems with the paperwork.

In order to get a handle on this mess and to locate the 119,000 aircraft they’ve lost, starting next year, the FAA will require owners of all the 357,000 aircraft to re-register their aircraft.  They must re-register because the FAA will begin to cancel each registration, much to the dismay of the owners, banks and leasing companies.

The FAA itself admits this problem has been building “for decades” and claims it’s becoming worse as authorities increasingly rely on computers to strengthen aviation security.  Until now, an aircraft had to be registered only when it was purchased and although notices were sent out every three years asking owners to update their contact information, there were no consequences if the owners did not comply.  Supposedly that will change.  Under the new system, owners must re-register every three years or lose their certificate.

I find it both amazing and shocking this problem has been allowed to go on “for decades” when proper registration is so important – not only for keeping track of the numbers so they can’t be used for criminal activities, but proper registration also means being able to contact owners about safety problems, some airports employ it to bill for landing fees, and the data is used by rescuers to track missing planes.

The automobile industry has successfully done this for years.  One would think if private industry could come up with a workable program for keeping track of the millions of cars on the road, a United States Government agency designated totally to aviation could find a way to monitor its “charges” especially when so much is at stake.  I question, of course, given their track record is how successful the FAA will be with their new plan of action – it sounds good, but a plan is only as effective as those who implement it.

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