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FAA Not Sure Who Owns Thousands of US Planes

Chaos prompts terror fears; agency calls for re-registration
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2010 8:46 AM CST
FAA Not Sure Who Owns Thousands of US Planes
In this Feb. 20, 2007 file photo, JetBlue airplanes display their registration numbers along the windows at the rear of the aircraft at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.   (AP Photo/Rick Maiman, File)

(Newser) – The FAA lacks key information on who owns some 119,000 private and commercial aircraft in the US, prompting concerns that terrorists or drug traffickers could use the paperwork mess to their advantage—something the latter group is already doing. The FAA is calling for all owners to re-register the country's 357,000 aircraft next year, fearful that criminals could now secretly buy aircraft or use other planes’ registration numbers to prevent tracking

Those 119,000 aircraft have "questionable registration" because of missing forms, invalid addresses, or other issues, according to the FAA. In many cases, the FAA cannot say who owns a plane or even whether it is still flying or has been junked, the AP notes. Already there have been cases of drug traffickers using phony US registration numbers, as well as instances of mistaken identity in which police raided the wrong plane because of faulty record-keeping. “We have identified some potential risk areas, but I think we're trying to eliminate as much risk as possible through the re-registration process,” said an FAA rep.
(Read more FAA stories.)

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