For some, choosing a new N Number is more exciting than choosing a personalized license plate. However, there are several steps involved in the process and you must take into account the timing involved and the potential downtime to avoid affecting your aircraft travel schedule.
Choose & Reserve Your N#
The first step is to choose and reserve an available U.S. FAA Registration Number (“New Number”) from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Civil Aviation Registry for the aircraft. The New Number should be reserved in the name of the individual or entity that will have the authority to further request assignment of the New Number to the aircraft. This will eliminate the additional time spent completing additional paperwork.
Next, the registered owner of the aircraft must request that the New Number be assigned to the aircraft. Once you have made the request, it can take approximately 4-6 weeks until you receive authorization by the FAA to paint the New Number onto your aircraft. There is currently no method to request expedited service for this request. The Assignment of Special Registration Numbers (AC Form 8050-64) is the form that the FAA sends out to the registered owner authorizing placing the New Number on the aircraft.
AC Form 8050-64 – Receive it, Sign It & Return It
The AC Form 8050-64 is valid for 365 days. If you have not already done so, this is the authority to paint the New Number on the aircraft and operate the aircraft under the New Number. The AC Form 8050-64 must be signed by the registered owner and returned to the FAA Civil Aviation Registry (or filed by an Escrow Agent as further discussed below) within 5 days after the New Number is placed on the aircraft. Once the form is signed, indicating the New Number has been painted on the aircraft, follow the instructions on the form, which include carrying a duplicate of the form on the aircraft together with the old registration certificate as interim authority to operate the aircraft pending receipt of a revised certificate of registration and obtaining a revised certificate of airworthiness from your nearest Flight Standards District Office.
After you have received AC Form 8050-64, if an international trip is planned prior to receiving the new Certificate of Aircraft Registration then a Declaration of International Operations will need to be filed to expedite the receipt of the new Certificate of Aircraft Registration.
Don’t Get Impatient
Until you receive the AC Form 8050-64 from the FAA you must continue to operate the aircraft under its current N Number (“Old Number”). If the timing of your N Number change included painting the New Number on the aircraft before the AC Form 8050-64 form is received you must cover it with the Old Number and operate under the Old Number, until the AC Form 8050-64 form is received, executed by the registered owner and the original signed AC Form 8050-64 is returned to the FAA Civil Aircraft Registry.
Remember Insurance, Lender, Avionics and C of A
Other items involved with changing a N Number include, but are not limited to: notifying your lender, changing placards, re-strapping avionics, obtaining a new Certificate of Airworthiness, and changing LOAs, and MEL. Any other documentation with the Old Number should be changed and certain parties (ex: insurance company, lender and lessees) should be notified as to the New Number.
An FAA Escrow Agent is Your Friend
Rather than trying to send the documents directly to the FAA, it can be beneficial to use an escrow agent to file the documentation, including the reservation of the New Number, relinquishment of Old Number to another party (if needed), and filing of the AC 8050-64 form. By using an escrow agent to file the documentation you will have the comfort of knowing that the documents have been received and filed at the FAA.
Changing an N Number can be a complicated process for some and can take several weeks to a few months. Consider using experienced aviation professionals to help eliminate your frustrations and to help the documents and process flow smoothly to completion.
Melissa K. Gowin is a Senior Legal Assistant with the aviation law firm of Jetstream Aviation Law, P.A. and assists attorneys, clients and escrow agents in coordinating documentation for complex aircraft purchase, sale and financing transactions. Jetstream Aviation Law can be found at www.jetstreamlaw.com. Melissa K. Gowin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The information provided here is not legal advice and does not purport to be a substitute for advice of counsel on any specific matter. For legal advice, you should consult with an attorney concerning your specific situation.