A program developed in the early 1990’s as an airspace management tool is the Aircraft Situation Display. It provides a real time depiction of the location, altitude, airspeed, destination, estimated time of arrival and tail number of most aircraft operating in the U.S. airspace system. Data from this system is transmitted to a number of private subscribers and is usually available for the public to see.

Currently, aircraft operators can have the transmission of this information blocked by utilizing the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) Program administered by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). Operators with privacy or security concerns just need to apply to the program.

The FAA is now proposing to severely limit the BARR program to those operators that can fully justify their request for privacy and have a “Valid Security Concern.”  If these changes to the program take place and the operator can’t satisfy this burden of proof, their application will be denied and real time & historical flight tracking information will then be available for the general public to see.

There are many tangible and intangible problems associated with making these changes to the BARR program. We have historically expected our government to maintain and protect our privacy and these proposed changes are directly opposed to that premise. There has yet to be any discussion of any problems that are trying to be solved by making these changes. Trying to justify “valid security concerns” will boil down to a bureaucratic process that will likely be cumbersome and ineffective.
The biggest problem is the failure to acknowledge that aircraft operators and owners may have valid concerns about the safety of their passengers and that the security of their companies may be at risk. Unfortunately, unscrupulous groups and individuals exist that can create unusual threats to safety and security.

Corporate espionage is a real concern and the loss of a technological advantage could cost a company millions of dollars. Celebrities and corporate leaders must always be diligent in protecting themselves from harassment and elaborate extortion plots.

For now, private flights are private. We still have the freedom to travel across our great land at will and away from the prying eyes of those that are just merely curious, and from those that would do us harm. Freedom is a valuable thing and must be protected.

Here are some ways to submit your comments to the BARR Program:

Comments to Docket FAA-2011-0183 must be received on or before April 4, 2011.

Comments may be filed in a number of ways:

Online: Submit comments through the regulations.gov web (site.http://www.regulations.gov/#%21submitComment;D=FAA-2011-0183-0001)

By Mail:

Docket Management Facility
US Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE (Room W12-140)
Washington, DC 20590

By Fax: (202) 493-2251

Steve Wiley

VP Aviation Accounts