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  • Each aircraft in the Database has been included because it has been the focus of one or more past investigations into renditions flights. However, this does not mean that all of these aircraft were actually involved in the renditions network, and indeed it is highly likely that a number were not.
  • Even where aircraft have been demonstrated to have some connection with the renditions network, or there are otherwise grounds to suspect their involvement, it does not follow that all flights by that aircraft in the Database are linked to rendition and secret detention. Indeed, many of the aircraft associated with rendition are privately owned, and performed business for US Government alongside a range of other contracts. In one well-reported case, for example, a Gulfstream IV executive jet, owned by the US businessman Philip Morse and with tail number N85VM, flew the Boston Red Socks baseball team to their away games in between performing renditions flights for the CIA. Many of the flights in the Database will have nothing to do with rendition, and will not even have any connection with the US Government.
  • The existence of a flight in the Database is not proof that the flight took place. Much of the data comes from flight plans - notifications of intended flights sent to various air traffic authorities along the route. A filed flight plan is, of itself, no guarantee that the flight occurred. Plans are not necessarily enacted, and may in some cases act as a 'cover' for the true destination of the aircraft. The existence of 'dummy' flight plans has been discovered by comparing plans with other forms of data, such as ground handling records from airports and other records of actual aircraft movements, as well as invoices filed for payment by the companies involved.
  • Overall, there is some contradictory data in the Database, and this has been noted where identified. Inconsistencies in the data on routes and times may reflect inaccuracies in recording by air traffic authorities, planned flights which did not happen, and/or evidence of an attempted cover up. Users of the Database must bear all of this in mind.
  • In many cases, the Database holds fragmentary data, and in no case does it have records of all flights made by an aircraft. In particular, there are relatively few records of flights which occurred entirely outside of North American or European airspace, as most of the public data is derived from air traffic authorities in these regions. This does not, of course, mean that such flights did not occur, and in many cases our knowledge of an aircraft’s flight circuit is not complete.
  • It also the case that our list of suspicious aircraft will not be complete. It is known that the CIA changed the registration numbers of renditions aircraft, as well as changing the aircraft themselves, in order to maintain secrecy. It is also possible that military aircraft - with less reporting requirements than civilian aircraft - could have been used extensively for renditions, and other US intelligence agencies have been reported to be involved with detainee transfer operations.
  • As a result of these factors, it is highly likely that not all rendition flights are captured by the Database, either because they were performed by aircraft unknown to investigators, or because records of those flights have been destroyed or are otherwise inaccessible.
  • That said, the Database represents far and away the most extensive picture of rendition flights yet published, and is a powerful tool for uncovering and understanding the operational aspects of the global system of rendition and secret detention.


Rendition Research Team - © University of Kent
University of Westminster University of Kent E.S.R.C