airplane tail numbers

The Meaning Behind Airplane Tail Numbers

For some, aviation is much more than a hobby–it is a way of life. Even if being a pilot is not your chosen career, chances are you spend your evenings and weekends at the airfield or thinking about aircraft. Should you match this description, you may also own your own plane, or you are thinking about buying one. Purchasing an aircraft is no minor investment, and even previously owned airplanes can command a rather high dollar on the secondary market. Before you close the deal on your dream plane, you are going to want to perform some research on the aircraft, much of which can be done by knowing the airplane tail numbers. For the novice aviator, this alphanumeric string of digits may not mean much, but they serve a very important function. By understanding what these numbers mean, as well as how you can obtain your own, you can do all you need to do and know all you need to know. 

Tail numbers, which are sometimes called “N-numbers,” are a means of identifying your aircraft with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In the United States, all registered aircraft will be assigned an identification number that begins with the letter “N,” and is then followed by three to five digits, and can sometimes be bookended with an additional two letters. N-numbers have been around in one form or another since the 1919 International Air Navigation Convention, where different countries were assigned call letters. While the U.S. has “N,” other countries have their own letters, e.g. “G” for Great Britain, and “C” for Canada. The FAA does allow you to customize your N-number to a certain extent, provided it falls within their required parameters. Read on to learn more about these numbers, as well as how you can get yours online.

How Do You Get Airplane Tail Numbers?

When you first purchase an aircraft, it can be an exciting occasion. Undoubtedly, when this happens to you, you will be eager to clear the runway. First, however, there will be some paperwork to complete. Namely, you will need to register your aircraft by completing Form AC 8050-1 – Aircraft Registration Application. This document will call for your name and address, as well as your plane’s make, model, and serial number. You will also need to provide proof of ownership, which is typically accomplished with a bill of sale. You can then package these items together and mail them to the FAA’s office in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for processing. Once your plane has been registered, you will be assigned an N-number. If you are interested in customizing your tail number, you will want to provide a list of up to 10 options to the FAA.

airplane tail numbers

Register Your Plane Online Today!

If filling out a bunch of paperwork does not mesh with your busy schedule, why not work with us? We have easy-to-fill online forms for AC 8050-1s and much more. Take a few minutes to explore our site’s navigation to learn how we can help you, or contact us by phone or email today.