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Watchdog: Accountability

FAA pilot, aircraft register full of holes

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A lack of information means the Federal Aviation Administration's official registry for aircraft and the pilots who fly them isn't safe or secure, according to an Inspector General report.

The FAA's Civil Aviation Registry documents aircraft owners and pilots, but too often lacks complete and accurate information, including whether owners and pilots are complying with FAA regulations, the Department of Transportation IG said in a recent report.

Essential information like pilot certifications with an official picture and a biometric identifier (like DNA or a fingerprint) are missing from entries throughout the registry.

A random sample of 68 out of 10,292 airplane and helicopter registrations found 37 that were incomplete. Based on this sample, the IG said as many 5,600 registry entries for aircraft owned by non-U.S. citizens probably lack information as simple as pilot names.

The FAA also struggles with keeping the registry secure from breaches.

"The weaknesses we identified increase the risk that the integrity and privacy of the Registry's data will be compromised. ... Until resolved, these weaknesses diminish FAA's ability to fully carry out its safety mission," the report said.

In response, the FAA said it agreed with five of the IG's recommendations and partially agreed with the remaining three.

Of the three on which the FAA partially agreed, the IG expressed fear that the agency's responses will allow the "integrity and privacy of the Registry's data" to remain at risk.

The audit took place from January 2011 through April 2013. View the full report here.

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