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.
Aircraft records are available to the public to facilitate aviation safety, security, and commerce, the main purpose for which the record system exists. This is done in accordance with the underlying statutory framework (49 USC Chapter 441) and as described in the applicable SORN. The public nature of the aircraft record allows for title searches by prospective buyers and/or financiers of aircraft purchases as well as other interested parties to gather information concerning the aircraft. 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 registered owner name(s), aircraft identifiers, mailing address, and telephone numbers. Occasionally, items of sensitive PII are submitted for inclusion in the aircraft record either deliberately or inadvertently. Sensitive PII, such as a Social Security Number, is not necessary to accomplish aircraft registration and is not solicited or protected by the Registry. When the Registry receives sensitive PII, 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.
The Aircraft Registration Application, AC Form 8050-1, presents fields or boxes for the information that is necessary to accomplish an aircraft’s registration. If an applicant leaves a field empty, the application form is returned for completion. While most aircraft records are retrieved by N-number, they can also be retrieved using the online search tool by the name of the registered owner, aircraft identifiers, and the State and county of their mailing address. The aircraft registration masterfile contains these and other data elements for both active and canceled aircraft, and is available for download on the Registry website. Copies of individual aircraft records, including images of registration forms and documents affecting an interest in the aircraft, are also publically available.