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Sat, May 14, 2011

NBAA Sends Joint Letter To Congress Urging Preservation Of The BARR

House Version Of The FAA Reauthorization Bill Would Preserve The Program

The NBAA joined with other general aviation operator groups Friday in a letter urging Congress to complete reauthorization legislation for the FAA that also would maintain the current FAA Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program.

NBAA joined with the AOPA and EAA in signing the letter which points out that together the groups "represent nearly all of the general aviation aircraft operators in the United States - including thousands who participate in the BARR program for legitimate privacy, security and competitive reasons."

"The letter emphasizes the overwhelming importance of protecting the privacy of all citizens, preventing corporate espionage, and preserving the security of general aviation flight operations," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen.

In reconciling the differences between the House and Senate reauthorization bills, the groups urge that the final legislation include Section 817 of the House-passed FAA reauthorization measure, H.R. 658, which would preserve the BARR program.  The BARR program was originally enabled by Congress in the 2000 FAA reauthorization bill (Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century) in response to advances in computer technology and the advent of for-profit commercial flight tracking services.

Under the BARR program, the FAA, Department of Homeland Security, and law enforcement agencies always retain their ability to track general aviation aircraft movements, but general aviation operators are provided the ability to "opt-out" of having their real-time private movements disseminated beyond the government to unknown third parties throughout world. The House legislative provision directs the FAA to continue the program and allow aircraft owners and operators to opt-out of having their flight information published by these flight-tracking services, and notes that the online broadcast of general aviation movements by government against citizens' will "does not serve a public policy objective."

A notice was published in the Federal Register in March that the FAA has tentatively decided to dramatically restrict the BARR program, effectively limiting privacy protection for general aviation operators to only those with a known and specific security threat.

"Americans have a reasonable and appropriate expectation of privacy in their personal movements regardless of the mode of transportation involved," the letter reads. "It would set a dangerous precedent to establish a policy that movements in any type of vehicle (whether car, train or airplane) can be disseminated by the federal government to unknown third parties against a citizen's will."

The letter notes that the current BARR program has succeeded for more than a decade by providing a "do not track" option similar to other opt-out programs throughout government, while maintaining government's and law enforcement's ability to track all general aviation aircraft movements.

FMI: www.nbaa.org

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