State to revise aircraft registration program after significant public comments

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The state will revise an aircraft registration program for all Alaska-based planes, after receiving a significant number of comments from the public. The Alaska Department of Transportation anticipates the next proposal will see a reduction in fees and a change in how frequently planes need to be registered.

John Binder, deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Transportation, says the Federal Aviation Administration requires that airport owners and operators register all based aircrafts each year. The information currently given to the FAA by Alaska is a "best guess," which could impact federal funding. Binder says Alaska is maxed out on federal dollars, but "it could lead to the loss of funding, if we don’t do it."

Around half of the states across the country have designed a registration system; however, Alaska has unique challenges – the state currently maintains 240 rural airports, and not every location has a state employee working close by. In response, the Alaska DOT decided that its registration system needed people to self-report where they have their planes based.

In November, the state issued a 60-day public notice period for its new proposal: Planes would need to be registered annually online, and aircraft owners would need to pay $150 for each private plane and $250 for each commercial plane. Binder says that fee is close to average for those paid across the country. Not everyone in Alaska agreed with the costs, and Alaska DOT received around 300 written and oral comments for the state’s proposal, with 10 to 15 percent complaining about the proposed rate.

In January, the Alaska DOT and the Aviation Advisory Board met in Juneau and outlined many of the concerns regarding fees and the frequency of registration requirements that were expressed in the public comments.

According to the Alaska DOT, "The meeting decided to open up a revised registration proposal that meets the state’s informational needs, simplifies elements of the program and provides a tangible benefit to aircraft owners."

Binder explained some of the possible advantages to having a statewide database – the state would be able to distribute information to Alaskan aircraft owners, if they decided to opt-in to the service.

According to Binder, the Alaska DOT currently doesn’t have addresses or emails of aircraft owners across the state. Binder also describes that there are currently transient fees imposed on aircraft, when planes park at airports they don’t normally stay at. He says the board suggested free transient parking for people who register their planes, in the same way that Alaska State Parks has an annual park pass.

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