FAA loses 119,000 planes: A lesson in records management and ECM

I read with interest Friday how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has lost track of 119,000 aircraft.

In case you missed it, the Associated Press reports “119,000 of the aircraft on the U.S. registry have ‘questionable registration’ because of missing forms, invalid addresses, unreported sales or other paperwork problems. In many cases, the FAA cannot say who owns a plane or even whether it is still flying or has been junked.”

Holy high-flying cow.

Now, I’m pretty new to the world of enterprise content management (ECM), but I have to believe the FAA has some sort of document management system in place. What it is, I don’t know, but at first blush – or in the way it’s described by AP’s intrepid reporter – it doesn’t seem to be working.

Or on second thought, maybe it’s working all too well.

Could be the FAA’s system includes a component like exception reporting, which either confirms the existence of required documents or spots broken transactions and missing documents, then notifies the appropriate stakeholders about said missing items. It’s up to the stakeholders to go looking for them.

Can you imagine the look on someone’s face when that exception report came through? Gulps are rarely audible, but I bet this one sounded like a bass drum.

There’s more.

The article talks about “instances of mistaken identity in which police raided the wrong plane because of faulty record-keeping” and “the paperwork gap is becoming a bigger problem as authorities increasingly rely on computers to tighten aviation security in the wake of 9/11 and other terrorist plots.”

Then there’s this cry for ECM help: “The amount of missing or invalid paperwork has been building for decades, the FAA says. Up to now, owners had to register their planes only once, at the time of purchase. The FAA sent out notices every three years asking owners to update their contact information if needed, but there was no punishment for not doing so. As of 2008, there were 343,000 airplanes on the registry. By 2010, the number had risen to 357,000.”


Hopefully I’m not talking out of class when I say that every new employee at Hyland is thoroughly schooled on the dramatic effect ECM can have on an organization. How it can save a company time and money, eliminate low-value tasks, and empower its workforce just by employing stuff like workflow, document retention and document imaging. Not to mention the aforementioned exception reports (gulp). 

If this all sounds too good to be true, I promise you it’s not. And I encourage you to start exploring the world of ECM. You might find the right solution that can help your company take off.

Tom Tennant has expertise in content creation and content services and has been a contributor to the Hyland blog.
Tom Tennant

Tom Tennant

Tom Tennant has expertise in content creation and content services and has been a contributor to the Hyland blog.

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