The Aircraft Registry (Registry) collects the information necessary to establish and maintain the record for all United States civil aircraft. The aircraft record has many uses and users. From individuals seeking information about an aircraft they are considering purchasing to the banks that finance such purchases, aviation historians to law enforcement and security agencies, the records on US civil aircraft are researched daily by many. Because approximately 59% of the records on the US Aircraft Registry concern individuals, the Aircraft Registry is a Privacy Act system of records covered by System of Records Notice (SORN) DOT/FAA 801. The aircraft record consists of three distinct elements; information about the registered owner of the aircraft, information about recorded aircraft security interests, and information concerning the airworthiness of the aircraft. In addition to the aircraft record, the Registry maintains certain ancillary files that contain related information maintained in support of registration/recordation.
In accordance with the underlying statutory framework (49 USC Chapter 441) and as described in the applicable SORN, the information maintained in the aircraft record is available to the public upon request. This is to facilitate aviation safety, security, and commerce, the main purpose for which the record system exists. The public nature of the aircraft record allows for title searches by prospective buyers and/or financiers of aircraft purchases as well as for other interested parties to gather information concerning the aircraft including its airworthiness. The existence of recorded liens against the aircraft as well as the priority of those liens can be determined by a careful review of the documents maintained in the aircraft record.
The aircraft record does contain certain elements of personally identifiable information (PII) although generally the PII collected is not sensitive in nature. PII collected includes name, vehicle identifiers, personal mailing address, personal telephone numbers, and legal documents. The information necessary to accomplish registration of an aircraft includes the name of the owner and a good physical as well as mailing address. The aircraft registration application contains an area to enter the applicant’s telephone number. The submission of the applicant’s telephone number is helpful, but not required to accomplish registration of the aircraft. While aircraft records are most often retrieved by N-number, they can be retrieved by other means, including name of the owner. The entire aircraft registration database is available for download on the Registry website. Occasionally, items of sensitive PII are submitted for inclusion in the aircraft record either deliberately or inadvertently. Sensitive PII, such as Social Security Numbers, is not necessary to accomplish aircraft registration and is not solicited or protected by the Registry. When sensitive PII is received in the Registry, it is considered to have been knowingly submitted to a public record. Such submission to a known public record is considered tantamount to permission to release the PII. Any individual whose sensitive PII appears in the aircraft record may request the redaction of that information. The Registry will take immediate action to redact sensitive PII that is not necessary to maintain the integrity of the aircraft record.