As FAA sorts through the hundreds of comments in the docket urging preservation of the Block Aircraft Registration Request program (BARR), GA advocates are not letting up on their pressure to ensure they keep the ability to protect tail numbers from publicly available flight tracking information. The National Business Aviation Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and Experimental Aircraft Association all wrote Congress urging them to preserve a measure in House-passed FAA reauthorization measure that would direct FAA to maintain BARR, rather than following through on the agency’s proposal to significantly curb participation in the program.
Support is growing in the Senate to maintain the BARR as well. Four Senators recently appealed to Senate Commerce leaders Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) to support the House measure once the House/Senate conference begins on FAA reauthorization. The authors of the Senate letter were Senate General Aviation Caucus co-chairs Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), along with Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).
At stake, the groups believe, is a fundamental right of privacy. “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 GA groups wrote in their recent letter. “Significantly limiting the BARR represents an unwarranted invasion of the privacy of aircraft owners and operators, a threat to the competitiveness of U.S. companies and a potential security risk to persons on board.”