U.S. Aviation Administration lost data on 119 thousand planes

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In the United States has lost data on 119 thousand planes

Federal Aviation Administration, FAA have lost data on the owners of one third of the 357,000 private and commercial aircraft in the country. FAA fears that these data be used by terrorists and drug traffickers.

Associated Press reports

The records are in such disarray that the FAA says it is worried that criminals could buy planes without the government’s knowledge, or use the registration numbers of other aircraft to evade new computer systems designed to track suspicious flights. It has ordered all aircraft owners to re-register their planes in an effort to clean up its files.

About 119,000 of the aircraft on the U.S. registry have “questionable registration” because of missing forms, invalid addresses, unreported sales or other paperwork problems, according to the FAA. In many cases, the FAA cannot say who owns a plane or even whether it is still flying or has been junked.

Already there have been cases of drug traffickers using phony U.S. registration numbers, as well as instances of mistaken identity in which police raided the wrong plane because of faulty record-keeping.

Next year, the FAA will begin canceling the registration certificates of all 357,000 aircraft and require owners to register anew, a move that is causing grumbling among airlines, banks and leasing companies. Notices went out to the first batch of aircraft owners last month.

The FAA says security isn’t the only reason it needs an up-to-date registry. Regulators use it to contact owners about safety problems, states rely on it to charge sales tax and some airports employ it to bill for landing fees. Also, rescuers use the database to track down planes that are missing.

But the FAA has emphasized the security and law enforcement angle as the new measure has moved through the rule-making process over the past two years. The agency says the paperwork gap is becoming a bigger problem as authorities increasingly rely on computers to tighten aviation security in the wake of 9/11 and other terrorist plots.

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