New aircraft owners will benefit from a new procedure that the FAA has committed to adopt. By mid-August, the agency expects to begin sending preemptive extensions to new owners of previously registered aircraft. AOPA staff has been working closely with agency officials to address a situation that has led to new registration applications taking up to six months to process.
Airworthiness legally depends on, among other things, having a valid registration, and while registration renewal applications can be submitted online, new owners of previously registered aircraft have been running out of time on their 90-day temporary registrations. The aircraft registration process has been slowed by a combination of factors, including lack of staff and a very active market for used aircraft. Aircraft registration processing times have ranged up to six months, and AOPA has made resolving this problem a priority.
AOPA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Murray Huling, in discussions with FAA registry leadership, suggested implementation of the idea (proposed by AOPA Legal Services Plan attorney Scott Williams) of granting preemptive extensions for as long as registration applications are taking longer than the 90 days covered by temporary documents. The FAA has committed to having the preemptive extension process up and running in 60 days.
“We appreciate FAA leadership, and the registration division staff, recognizing the seriousness of the issue and their commitment to implementing this process,” Huling said. “We would like to have had this in place yesterday, but we understand that it will require IT adjustments and training of both current registration branch staff, and new staff that the agency is adding.”
The registration branch plans to issue registration extensions to the new owners of the aircraft in question by email while the permanent registration is pending. Owners will not need to request the extension as the process will be designed to issue the extension to eligible owners via email to print and carry in the aircraft. The amended process will not apply to new aircraft purchased from a manufacturer, or to registration renewals. Huling noted that the online processing of renewals has not been as problematic, and most members reporting impending expirations and processing delays have been new owners of existing aircraft.
Aircraft owners can help reduce the chance of processing delays by making sure their address is up to date (regulations require aircraft owners to inform the aircraft registry directly of any address change within 30 days), and make sure that all required documents are included with registration applications, and that all documents are legible. In addition, to ensure the registry is able to provide owners with the preemptive extension via email, owners should include an email address with their application package.
“Again, this is an overdue and needed interim step to address the registration backlog and quite frankly something the FAA should have already had in its toolbox,” Huling said. “We’ll be checking in with the FAA early and often and will keep members informed of the agency’s progress.”
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