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ICG Risk Blog - [ November 14, 2004 ]

Gulfstream N379P becomes N8068V: the price of carelessness with flight logs, or notoriety, or just business practice


Don't look for tail number N379P if you are seeking a clandestine transporter of enemy combatants to undisclosed locations for Extraordinary Rendition, i.e., delivery of detainees to foreign locations for advanced interrogation. A straightforward open source analysis reveals that N379P is now N8068V, same serial number (581), same owner (Premiere Executive Transport Services Inc.), and one might surmise, the same purpose, (And when someone awakes to the public recognition of this datum, expect it to change again, or change ownership, or contract provider, and possibly the aircraft.)

As long as an airframe remains under US registration, the Federal Aviation Administration's Aircraft Registration Inquiry offers ten useful searches for N-number, Name, Engine, Document Index, Serial Number, Make/Model, Dealer, State & County, Territory & Country, and N-number Availability. For Canada it is Transport Canada's Civil Aircraft Register, for the UK it is the Civil Aviation Authority's G-INFO Database Search. Some nations are not so accurate in their record keeping.

By using the country/state search, I was able to determine that Premiere Executive Transport owned only two aircraft, the Gulfstream-V N8068V, C/N 581, and a Boeing 737, N313P, C/N 33010. Using N-number Availability, I was able to determine that N379P was not now Assigned/Reserved. Most assume that tail numbers are unique, like a license plate, which is true, but they can be changed as well. There are sites that track the changes in tail numbers. N8068V was N379P, and before that, N581GA.

This data base searches come atop the annual efforts of hobbyist plane spotters and some activists around the world who dutifully log and photograph arriving and departing aircraft, thereby creating a wonderful record of aircraft that change more than the tail numbers for repossession, change of ownership, and criminal efforts. Some sites such as PlanePictures.Net, PlaneSpotting Network, JetPhotos.Net, and are quite useful. The latter two were useful in determining that a missing American Airlines Boeing 727 modified as an air tanker that had departed from Luanda, Angola, without permission and disappeared was not going to be used as a terrorist weapon. It was later seen in Conakry, Guinea, resprayed and given a Guinean registration. (Aircraft often disappear in Africa.)

Whereas N379P was logged in Shannon Ireland to later become corroborating data for a two part Swedish documentary (1 and 2), and noted as part of a larger rendition effort (and here), it was not until the G-V's log books came into the journalist hands that the wider scope became clear:

Analysis of the plane's flight plans, covering more than two years, shows that it always departs from Washington DC. It has flown to 49 destinations outside America, including the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba and other US military bases, as well as Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Morocco, Afghanistan, Libya and Uzbekistan.

Witnesses have claimed that the suspects are frequently bound, gagged and sedated before being put on board the planes, which do not have special facilities for prisoners but are kitted out with tables for meetings and screens for presentations and in-flight films.

The aircraft type may be the hardest to change given its suitability to the mission. Gulfstream Aerospace's Gulfstream V is an intercontinental corporate transport capable of carrying four crew (two on the flight deck) and eight passengers and fuel reserves at its design cruising speed of 459 Knots over 6500 Nautical Miles in about 14 and a half hours. The G-V is typically equipped with "a crew rest room, a business work station with Satcom, computer and fax, a dining/conference area with seating for four, a three seat couch that converts into a bed, five other reclining seats, two galleys and a restroom fitted with a toilet and shower."

Just the delivery ticket for interrogation in Jordan, torture in Syria, and disappearance in Egypt.

US accused of 'torture flights'
Stephen Grey
Times (UK)
November 14, 2004

'Abduction' jet makes Shannon stops
By Paul Colgan
Irish Echo Online
November 10-16, 2004

TV4 Sweden Script "The broken promise" Part 1
TV4 Monday 17 May 2004

TV4 Sweden Script "The broken promise" Part 2
TV4 Monday 24 May 2004

Gordon Housworth

InfoT Public  Strategic Risk Public  Terrorism Public  


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