The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Friday reiterated its strong opposition to â€™s plan to limit participation in the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program, saying the actions represent unwarranted invasion of privacy for aircraft owners and operators, a threat to U.S. competitiveness and a potential security risk for passengers aboard aircraft.
FAA on Friday published a notice in the Federal Register on its tentative decision to modify a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with subscribers of the Aircraft Situation Display to Industry (ASDI) and National Airspace System Status Information (NASSI), which provide aircraft tracking data feeds. Under the BARR program, FAA accommodates requests of aircraft owners and operators to exclude their aircraft from ASDI and NASSI data feeds.
In the notice, FAA says, â€śWe have tentatively determined that it is in the best interests of the U.S. government and the general public for the FAA to exclude general aviation aircraft identification numbers from ASDI and NASSI data-feeds available to the public only upon certification of the aircraft owner or operators of a valid security concern.â€ť Aircraft owners or operators with valid security concerns must obtain written certification at least annually for their aircraft registration numbers to be withheld from the ASDI and NASSI, FAA says.
The agency defines a valid security concern as a verifiable threat to a person or property of the company, â€śincluding the threat of death, kidnapping or serious bodily harm against an individual, a recent history of violent terrorist activity in the geographic area in which the transportation is provided, or a threat against a company.â€ť FAA adds that a general concern about safety is not enough to constitute a valid security concern. FAA cites Internal Revenue Service guidance on security concerns and says, â€śProviding ASDI and NASSI data-feed protections to those general aviation aircraft owners or operators that have bona fide business-oriented security concerns under the Treasury regulations is clear, easy to follow and justifiable.â€ť
FAA also notes that while the MOA currently accommodates privacy and security interests upon request, â€śThe Privacy Act does not protect general aviation operators from public knowledge of their flight information.â€ť The agency cited last yearâ€™s ruling by Rosemary Collyer, a District Court judge for the District of Columbia, ordering FAA to disclose the registration of aircraft tail numbers submitted under the BARR program in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. â€śAccordingly, we do not believe that it is in the public interest to withhold from public disclosure information that is not protect by the Privacy Act or other laws,â€ť FAA says.
FAA is taking comments to the proposed MOA modification through April 4. NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen Friday wrote a letter urging members to file comments in opposition to the plan.
â€śThe governmentâ€™s proposal ignores the legitimate need for the BARR program, and runs directly counter to the long-established assumptions about governmentâ€™s role in the protection of privacy,â€ť Bolen says. â€śNBAA sees no reason why our government should want to provide unknown partiesâ€”especially those engaged in corporate espionage or simply those who may wish to do harm to othersâ€”with the tools to electronically stalk U.S. citizens or companies on general aviation airplanes.â€ť