HAI joins call for “essential” US Aircraft Registry to reopen


The Helicopter Association International has written to the US government, calling for the United States Aircraft Registry to be immediately reopened so it can carry out essential tasks.

The Registry has been closed as part of the current US government shutdown, triggered at the weekend by the Republicans’ and Democrats’ failure to reach an agreement on federal funding.

Essential federal functions are exempt from the shutdown, and a group of business and general aviation leaders, including Matthew Zuccaro of the HAI, has written to Department of Transportation secretary Elaine Chao to argue that the Registry performs essential functions for safety, security and fulfilling international treaties, and should be reopened.

The other signatories to the letter are Mark Baker, president and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association; Martin Hiller, president of the National Air Transportation Association; Jack Pelton, chairman and CEO of the Experimental Aircraft Association, and Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association.

In the letter, they “respectfully submit” that the DoT has the authority to reopen the Registry “as it is vital to the protection of human life and property, and necessary for the US to fulfil its ongoing international legal obligations”.

They cite the FAA’s legal requirement to meet its “vital and binding” obligations, and list its essential functions:

  • safety (FAA officials say that out-of-date registration information could lead to property being lost or people being injured)
  • security (US law enforcement officials use FAA registration data to fight crime and ensure homeland security
  • international treaties (the US Registry is obliged to provide other countries with information about aircraft ownership under agreements such as the Cape Town Convention).

The US Registry’s closure also means that aircraft and aircraft parts cannot be bought, sold, financed, or maintained. According to FAA data, more than 10,000 aircraft registrations expire each month, and cannot be renewed while the Registry is closed.

“The US Registry’s closure had a profound impact on our manufacturers and workforce during the 2013 government shutdown,” the group says, “as it disrupted hundreds of aircraft transactions valued at over $1.5 billion.”

They urge Secretary Chao to reopen the Registry “immediately”.