The upgrade is the product of an effort known as the Civil Aviation Registry Electronic Services initiative—“CARES” for short—mandated by the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.
The 2018 law gave the FAA until “not later than 3 years” from the reauthorization bill’s enactment—it was signed into law on October 5, 2018—to complete upgrading the “digitization” of registry information, and “paper-based” processes and business operations, and to launch “systems allowing a member of the public to submit any information or form to the Registry and conduct any transaction with the Registry by electronic or other remote means,” while allowing “more efficient, broader, and remote access” to the registry.
Also, in a March 2020 report to Congress, the Government Accountability Office discussed the need to protect registry information exploitation for “fraudulent purposes,” noting that current FAA processes lack “strong controls.”
“The aviation world is changing rapidly. The tools we use to perform our jobs and the services we provide to our aviation partners and stakeholders need to maintain the same pace and provide the agility needed to support our role in the aviation community particularly when it comes to safety,” said Bob Gonzalez, deputy director of the FAA’s Office of Foundational Business. “CARES will provide our workforce and our stakeholders with the services needed at the time they are needed.”
According to information provided by his office, in the program’s first phase, after a user creates a profile, you will be able to perform tasks including:
- Registering any type of aircraft in one place, including light sport and amateur-built.
- Instantly reserving an N-number, increasing the likelihood of receiving the number you want over having to use the paper-based system (which will remain available).
- Receiving instant notification of any additional information needed to complete your transaction.
Phase 2 of CARES will fully integrate capabilities from the Integrated Airmen Certification and/or Rating Application (IACRA) into the registry.
Drone registration will be incorporated into the system in a third phase.
As the upgrade moves toward its October 5 deadline, AOPA is working with the FAA to disseminate information about registry digitization to the aviation community online (of course) through various in-person and digital platforms, said AOPA Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs Christopher Cooper.
The FAA also has been posting periodic updates on its website. On June 28, a tech-heavy summary discussed capabilities to provide “functionality that further ensures the integrity of user profiles.” That “sprint,” as the FAA calls some steps in the digitization effort, followed a May 27 announcement of completing a sprint adding functionality to amateur-built aircraft and light sport aircraft registration, among other tasks.
There is also a webpage of frequently asked questions about the project.