The FAA’s “Increase the Duration of Aircraft Registration” direct final rule published on November 22, 2022, is now in effect as of January 23, 2023. The new rule amends 14 CFR 47 (“Part 47”), which controls the FAA’s aircraft registration process. The FAA has a significant backlog of aircraft registration applications and the primary goal of the amendment is to alleviate the administrative burden on the FAA.
Extension of Temporary Authorization
Under the new rule, the FAA’s temporary authorization now lasts 12 months. Under the old rule, once an aircraft registration application was submitted, the applicant was granted a temporary authorization to operate the aircraft for 90 days (also known as flying on a “pink slip” after the old form with pink carbon copy paper). Once the initial 90 days had passed, the FAA was required to issue a letter extending the temporary authorization if the FAA had not yet processed the application, so the applicant could continue flying while awaiting the registration documentation. The new rule amends § 47.31 and removes this 90-day limit and replaces it with a 12-month time limit for the temporary authorization.
Currently, the FAA is processing applications from September 2022 (about 4 months behind), but they are making good progress to try to catch up. Still, because of the significant increase in aircraft sales and transfer activities, it could take longer than 4 months for some applicants to hear back. From our discussions with the FAA, many of the emails/calls they receive are from aircraft owners following up as the 90-day period approached or expired. The FAA has been informing applicants that the new law now allows them to continue to operate the aircraft under temporary authorization for 12 months.
This begs the question, what if the FAA does not process your registration application within 12 months? Since the rule no longer allows the FAA to issue a letter extending the temporary authorization, the applicant will most likely have to submit a new application. However, the goal of the new law is actually to prevent the FAA from getting backlogged to 12 months. Our experience is that the FAA is working diligently and efficiently to reduce the backlog and giving aircraft owners the “peace of mind” that they can continue to operate the aircraft while the FAA completes its review process. Hopefully, the new rule will help alleviate the over 800 emails the FAA receives daily. However, aircraft owners will have to wait and see if this change helps or hurts the current situation.
Extension of Aircraft Registration
The new rule also amends § 47.40 by extending the validity of aircraft registration to 7 years. The prior aircraft registrations were only valid for 3 years. This extension will further alleviate the administrative burden on the FAA and aircraft owners. This extension not only applies to new registrations but also applies to extend the validity of current registrations. Current registrations will now expire 7 years after the last day of the month in which the registration was issued.
Correction of Inaccurate Information
Lastly, the new rule adds § 47.40(c), which allows the FAA to require an aircraft owner to submit a new aircraft registration application and fee prior to the expiration date of a current registration if the FAA finds that the Certificate of Registration contains inaccurate information. The FAA anticipates that the registration extension will cause some inaccurate registration information, and this section gives the FAA a mechanism to correct the information in the public records. Under the previous rule, the FAA had no power to make such corrections in between aircraft registration renewals.
All of these new rules apply to both general aviation and commercial aircraft.
The new rule, hot off the press, is a welcome solution to the current backlog issue for many new aircraft owners. Importantly, the FAA forms have not yet been updated to reflect the time periods (you will still see the 90-day period referenced on the instruction sheets). However, the FAA has confirmed that the current registration applications are subject to the new 12-month period. For more information or for assistance with aircraft registrations, feel free to contact Susan Hofer, Mica Nguyen Worthy, or Devin L. Honbarger with the Aviation Practice Group.