In the midst of the United States’ federal government shutdown, general aviation leaders across the country are urging the Department of Transportation (DOT) to reopen the FAA’s United States Aircraft Registry.

“Despite the current government shutdown, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and fellow GA groups argued that the U.S. Registry performs essential functions for safety, security and fulfilling international aviation treaties,” the NBAA’s press release reads.

Six general aviation leaders signed off on a letter to the United States Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, urging her to reopen the U.S. Registry, including Mark Baker, president and CEO, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; Ed Bolen, president and CEO, NBAA; Pete Bunce, president and CEO, General Aviation Manufacturers Association; Martin Hiller, president, National Air Transportation Association; Jack Pelton, chairman and CEO, Experimental Aircraft Association; and Matthew Zuccaro, president and CEO, Helicopter Association International.

“We respectfully submit that DOT has authority under the Anti-deficiency Act to staff the U.S. Registry,” the letter reads, “as it is vital to protection of human life and property, and necessary for the U.S. to fulfill its ongoing international legal obligations.”

The NBAA’s press release lists three major functions that the FAA performs:


  • Safety: FAA officials have said that out-of-date registration information (including safety-related information) could possibly result in loss of property or personal injury.
  • Security: As FAA officials have also said, “various levels of law enforcement have used and continue to use registration data for drug and other law enforcement purposes.” Additionally, those efforts “now have expanded to include matters of homeland security.”
  • International Treaties: The U.S. Registry is obligated, under international aviation treaties, to provide other nations with aircraft ownership information, when requested. These agreements include the Chicago Convention and the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment (“Cape Town Convention”).


The aforementioned letter also reminded Sec. Chao of the effects that the government’s 2013 shutdown had on general aviation. “The U.S. Registry’s closure had a profound impact on our manufacturers and workforce during the 2013 government shutdown as it disrupted hundreds of aircraft transactions valued at over $1.9 billion.

“As you are well aware, certain activities, including emergency circumstances relating to health and safety and functions necessary to discharge the President’s constitutional duties and powers, are exempted from the restrictions of the Anti-deficiency Act,” the letter reads. “Again, we commend you for taking actions to bring off furlough other safety-sensitive FAA personnel, but urge you in the strongest possible terms, in the interests of safety, security, and our international obligations, as well as the enormous economic consequences of its closure, to immediately reopen the aircraft registry.”

To read the letter in its entirety, visit