N4729D, deregistered, just flew over my house. I saw where it had crashed years earlier; is it legal to fly this plane?

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    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 15:39
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    $\begingroup$ Are registration numbers forever? That is, if a plane was registered as N4729D and was destroyed, couldn't that number be assigned to another plane? Indeed, if you owned a plane with a US registration number and moved to say Canada, wouldn't you need to get a Canadian registration? $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ The word "crashed" says absolutely nothing about the severity of the damage. Cars crash and are repaired regularly. As long as questions and concerns about airworthiness are resolved why do you think it would be any different with aircraft? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 18:05

1 Answer 1


It isn't legal to fly an aircraft without a valid registration, however if the owner has applied for a new registration then they can fly the aircraft using the application as a temporary registration.

So it's possible that the owner has repaired the aircraft, re-applied for registration, and is now flying the aircraft using the application as temporary authorization.

The general requirement to have a valid registration certificate on board is in 14 CFR 91.203(a) says:

Except as provided in § 91.715, no person may operate a civil aircraft unless it has within it the following:


(2) An effective U.S. registration certificate issued to its owner or, for operation within the United States, the second copy of the Aircraft registration Application as provided for in § 47.31(c), a Certificate of Aircraft registration as provided in part 48, or a registration certification issued under the laws of a foreign country.

According to the FAA's N-number registry, N4729D is indeed deregistered. That doesn't mean it's flying illegally, though. 91.203 mentions 47.31(c), which essentially says that if you've applied for a registration then you can use a copy of the application as a temporary authorization:

After compliance with paragraph (a) of this section, the applicant for registration of an aircraft last previously registered in the United States must carry the second copy of the Aircraft Registration Application in the aircraft as temporary authority to operate without registration.

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