Trivia Testers : N, WHAT? ‘Vanity Plate’ N-numbers

Question: If you want a special N number for your airplane, (even if you don’t own one yet or have not finished building it), how do you go about getting one?

  1. You have to request it from the manufacturer, if not kit-built, and are limited to certain ranges given in FAR 47.
  2. These are only available for amateur-built aircraft, and must however end in two alphabetical symbols.
  3. You must pay a special $10 fee, and submit FAA Form 8050-64.
  4. There is no form. (But there is a $10 fee.) You may request up to five possible choices, consisting of between one and five alphanumeric characters.

Answer: The answer is Number 4. FAR 47.15 (and Advisory Circular 20-27E) covers the subject of special N number requests to the Aircraft Registration Branch (AFS-750) in Oklahoma City. That $10 will reserve a number (if it hasn’t been taken) for one year. There are specific format rules. For example, if you’re a ham radio operator and your call sign was N6JAZ, it wouldn’t be allowed (but N666JR might be). The FAA responds with Form 8050-64.

Subject: More About N Numbers

Question: What dictates the size of the tail number on an experimental aircraft? (More than one may be correct, this time.)

  1. Whether or not you take it outside the US or into an ADIZ.
  2. How fast it can go.
  3. Whether it is classified as ‘small’, ‘large’ or ‘heavy’.
  4. It’s entirely under the jurisdiction of your local FSDO.

Answer: Both Numbers 1 and 2. If the maximum cruising speed exceeds 180 knots, it’s 12 inches. The same is true if you’re going anywhere outside the US or into an Air Defense Identification Zone. (That may change in the not too distant future.) If it’s not exactly a real zoomer though, they can be as small as three inches high. (Also the word ‘Experimental’ must be displayed near each entrance in letters that are two to six inches high.)

Subject: The Unthinkable

Question: What does SCATANA stand for, and to what entity does it direct control of the National Airspace System?

  1. It stands for Security, Control, Air Traffic Association National Advisory, and the FAA still runs the show.
  2. It’s actually an acronym and a contraction, standing for Secure Command Authority, Tactical Air Navigation, and the controlling agency becomes the US Air Force.
  3. Security Control of Air Traffic and Navigation Aids, and it’s NORAD.
  4. It doesn’t actually stand for anything.

The answer is 3. Advisory Circular 99-1C, Security Control of Air Traffic, describes it, as does FAR 99 somewhat. There is also a less-extreme area or regional operational state called ‘ESCAT’ (Emergency Security Control of Air Traffic Procedures), which is what we saw happening on September 11, where the military mostly delegates air traffic control facilities to broadcast instructions (as in ‘everybody land, now!’) You don’t even want to think about a real SCATANA (or the most ominous one, OPLAN).