Answered By AOPA
You’re about to go up with one of your flying buddies in an aircraft he just purchased. Since it’s an aircraft that is fairly new to both of you, you decide to take a look at the aircraft documents. In doing this you notice that the serial number on the airworthiness certificate is correct for the aircraft, but the registration number is incorrect. Meaning that at some point the aircraft’s tail number was changed, but a new airworthiness certificate was never obtained. Is this still a valid airworthiness certificate? Can this aircraft be flown?
AOPA Staff Answer
No, this is no longer a valid Airworthiness Certificate. FAR 91.203(a)(1) explains that an airworthiness certificate needs to have the aircraft’s current registration number on it after the number has been on the aircraft for more than 10 days. This aircraft should not be flown until an updated certificate is obtained from the local FSDO. The process for changing the N-number on an aircraft and obtaining a new airworthiness certificate is explained on this page of the FAA’s website; http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/aircraft_certification/aircraft_registry/special_nnumbers/ .