How Do You Look up an Aircraft by Its Tail Number?


Quick Answer

Use the Federal Aviation Administration’s searchable registry to look up an individual aircraft by its tail number in the United States. For planes outside the United States, sites including planeflighttracker.com provide information about aircraft including most recent flights.

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Full Answer

The FAA requires all aircraft to register with the national aviation authority. The FAA’s database makes these records public. A registration number or tail number is an alphanumeric combination starting with the letter “N.”

Searching for “N1KE” through the database produces details for the Nike Corporation’s jet. Records provide details about the type of aircraft, its manufacturer, owner, model and serial number, the database also includes the type of registration. However, owners of aircraft may request that a plane’s flight information does not appear in the FAA’s searchable public records.

Identify international aircraft by the first letter of their tail number: The United Kingdom uses the letter “G,” France uses the letter “F,” Ireland uses the letters “IE,” and Germany uses the letter “D”. Aruba uses the letters “P4;” and keeps its registry private, as does the Isle of Man, using the letter, “M”.

Planeflighttracker.com tracks international aircraft, users enter a tail number and the site lists the plane’s details and charts its most recent flights.

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