Trump’s FAA Registration
The Republican Presidential election leader Donald Trump has claimed that the GOP race is rigged. While the problems in getting voters registered have been the targets of his political ire, Trump’s FAA registration issues may ground, literally, his campaign.
The New York Times has as its motto “all the news fit to print” and proof of that commitment is that the paper was able to dig out the facts about Mr. Trump’s airplane. That required some deep ferreting of the well-off-the-beaten political path at FAA’s Oklahoma Registry. There startlingly, they found something connected to the 2016 Campaign. Within the cavernous file cabinets, the writer found that N725DT, a Cessna Citation X (Model 750), 100% owned by DJT OPERATIONS CX LLC, has an expired FAA aircraft registration.
The NYT then determined that the Citation X is owned by Mr. Trump and that N725DT has been flying the candidate around the campaign trail. The FAA records, not easy to find, indicated that the Citation X with the Trump seal on the fuselage does not have a valid registration on his cockpit wall.
For a personage who frequently reminds the voters that he is a multi-billionaire, he did not pay the $5 registration fee on a timely basis, according to the FAA. Aircraft registration is rarely a task assigned to the political campaign. The flight department (pilots, maintenance technicians and administration) likely manages the $4-6 million asset. Cash flow issues?
Under 49 U.S. Code § 44103, the owner of aircraft shall register it with the FAA and if this statutory requirement is not met, under §44103, the FAA may suspend its registration. Without a valid N number, the aircraft must be grounded. The relevant regulations, 14 CFR§47.3, mandates that “[n]o person may operate an aircraft that is eligible for registration under 49 U.S.C. 44101-44104” if the registration is not valid and the N752’s certificate became invalid on January 31, 2016 per 14 CFR §47.40(a)(3).
The NYT thoroughly explained the consequences of this registration failure:
“Mr. Trump’s plane could be grounded for several days, or even months, while the issue is sorted out. In the event of an accident, the company that insures the plane could use the expired registration as a reason to decline any claims.
The F.A.A. could also fine or assess other penalties against the owner, the operator or both; Mr. Trump owns the plane through a limited liability company. Though it is unlikely that the agency would seek the maximum penalty, flying with no registration could result in a civil penalty of up to $27,500, a criminal fine of up to $250,000 and imprisonment for up to three years, it [FAA] said.”
The Citation X is not the flagship of the Trump fleet; his B-757 is the preferred vehicle for air transportation and his iconic symbol of Mr. Trump. Unfortunately the corporate airliner cannot land at all airports; so the Citation X is needed for these missions. If the Cessna is unavailable for operations to/from small communities, alternative means of getting Mr. Trump to these sites will have to be arranged.
The fix for this registration would ordinarily be a simple payment of the $5 fee. Somehow, this otherwise trivial error was pointed out the NYT. The “who and why” this information was delivered to that newspaper may elevate the resolution of registration to a higher level. This highly publicized issue is so visible now that the resolution/fix will be reviewed at a higher level than ordinarily would be assigned on a simple registration. For a lot of good reasons, the answer should be developed without any political considerations.
FAA inspectors contacted Mr. Trump’s Chief Pilot and it was agreed that N752DT is grounded until the registration is fixed. The Chief Pilot or whomever is responsible for this might want to practice haring this famous line from The Apprentice: