Most aircraft owners are familiar with the FAA’s 2010 rule requiring aircraft to be re-registered with the FAA’s aircraft registry every three years, but few owners are aware of the extreme consequences for failing to re-register the aircraft prior the registration’s expiration date.

The current backlog of work at the FAA’s aircraft registry means that owners that inadvertently miss the re-registration window for their aircraft could end up waiting months to get their aircraft back in the air. The Aero Law Group has worked recently with several clients that missed the registration window on their aircraft re-registration and ended up being unable to operate their aircraft until the FAA sorted out the registration reinstatement for the airplane.

Aircraft owners that miss the registration window will find that the registration automatically cancels at midnight on the last day of the three-year re-registration period. Following the registration’s cancellation, the aircraft cannot be operated pursuant to 14 C.F.R. §47.3(b) until the registration is re-issued by the FAA. With the FAA currently running a 5-month backlog on aircraft registry paperwork review, a cancelled registration can take months to reinstate resulting in a lengthy period where an owner is not able to use their aircraft.

We suggest that owners pay careful attention to their registration expiration date and be sure to promptly re-register their aircraft as soon as they receive the registration re-application notice, which should occur approximately 6 months prior to the expiration date for the registration. Even if you plan to re-register the aircraft online, be certain to check the mail regularly for re-registration notices, since the notices will contain the security code necessary to re-register the aircraft online. Aircraft owners should make sure that they regularly check mail at the address connected to the aircraft address, and that they keep the FAA address of record for the aircraft updated.

Paying close attention to the registration cancellation date, and promptly re-registering the aircraft will prevent the aircraft from being rendered unflyable while the FAA processes a registration reinstatement application.