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FAA extending aircraft registration period

Editor's note: This story was updated January 19 to reflect publication of the final rule and confirmation of the effective date.

Aircraft owners will have more time to renew their aircraft registration now that the FAA has finalized rulemaking that extends the duration of certificates from three to seven years, effective January 23.

Photo by Mike Fizer.

The FAA published a final rule January 18 with corrected punctuation and confirmation of the January 23 effective date, extending the duration of aircraft registration that advocates sought for years. AOPA supported legislation introduced by Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) in 2018 that required this aircraft registry extension.

The need to act has become acute, due to long delays in processing the required paperwork. Many aircraft owners have experienced frustration due to the ongoing FAA backlog, which currently stands at more than 180 days. According to the FAA, delays are often due to owners failing to update their addresses with the FAA—something that will need to be continually addressed once the new rule is in effect.

“It’s taken too long, but we applaud the FAA for making changes to these current requirements. This action will help alleviate the enormous backlog and streamline the process for all aircraft owners and pilots," said AOPA President Mark Baker. “Rep. Sam Graves spearheaded this effort and we are obviously pleased that it is finally done. Sam is a GA pilot and understands the frustrations as a result of the delays with the FAA’s registry.”

Graves (R-Mo.), the top Republican on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the presumptive chairman of that committee in the upcoming Congress, was influential in requiring the FAA to put forward regulations to accomplish this extension. Graves also serves as co-chair of the House General Aviation Caucus.

“I’m happy that the FAA has finally issued this commonsense update to the length of aircraft registrations, based on the amendment I put forward to the FAA Authorization Act of 2018,” Graves said. “This change will reduce paperwork burdens and the chances for inadvertent registration violations, while allowing the FAA to focus its attention on safety and other issues that matter most. In addition, this will actually save pilots and aircraft owners as much as $12 million in reduced fees.”

Prior to 2010, aircraft registrations did not expire as long as the aircraft remained in service, but that regulation led to many inaccurate and ghost registrations. The three-year limit for re-registration was enacted in 2010, though AOPA and other groups argued it was too onerous for private operators.

It wasn’t until the 2018 FAA reauthorization that Congress directed the FAA to extend the three-year period to seven for noncommercial GA aircraft. Although the legislation required the registration for GA aircraft, the FAA extended the registration duration for all aircraft, including commercial, to seven years.

The registration extension will take effect January 23 following a 30-day comment period, and will apply to all aircraft currently registered under existing FAA regulations. While all registrations that are valid on the effective date will be extended to seven years after they were issued, those registrations that are currently expired will first need to be renewed.

AOPA supports the new rule, and encourages members to provide supporting comments by December 22.

Amelia Walsh

Communications and Research Specialist
AOPA Comms and Research Specialist Amelia Walsh joined AOPA in 2017. Named after the famous aviatrix, she's a private pilot working on her instrument rating in a Colombia 350.
Topics: Advocacy, Aircraft Regulation

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