Friday, December 10, 2010

Can ANY Government Agency Do Their Job?

You would think that, after 9/11, keeping track of aircraft would be a top priority at the FAA. You would think that ensuring that the planes in the air are actually the planes that they purport to be. You would think that riding close herd on the registration and ownership of aircraft would be central to our security efforts.

Well, you would be wrong on all counts:
FAA loses track of 119,000 aircraft

NEW YORK – The Federal Aviation Administration is missing key information on who owns one-third of the 357,000 private and commercial aircraft in the U.S. — a gap the agency fears could be exploited by terrorists and drug traffickers.

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.
Yeah, let's have a big "do over" and maybe, just maybe, we can get it right the next time. One really has to wonder how long this problem has existed; I'm sure it didn't happen overnight. This inability to perform the most basic of functions is incompetence on a breathtaking scale.

This isn't just a bureaucratic SNAFU, It's a screw-up that can get people killed.

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