The proposed change surfaced on March 4, when the federal government published a notice in the Federal Register that the FAA has tentatively decided to scale back the BARR program, a move that would effectively limit the program’s privacy protection to only those with a known and specific security threat. Under this arrangement, broad security concerns would not be covered under the proposal.
The NBAA contends that by limiting BARR to only those with a known and specific security threat 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.” To that end, the NBAA is requesting current BARR users and NBAA members to sign a petition on its website. The NBAA will submit the names of petition signers to the formal docket.
As the law stands right now, private jet aircraft owners can block their tail numbers from being publicly tracked. By scaling back the BARR program, anyone with access to this data can track the whereabouts of a company’s CEO, perhaps putting him or her in grave danger. Moreover, when celebrities are being flown from point to point, an unwelcome assembly of paparazzi could be at their destination to greet them.
One argument the NBAA is using for keeping tail number information private is EZPass. Used widely in the northeast United States to electronically record toll payments on major highways, bridges and tunnels, information collected by EZPass is not available for public consumption. Also, commercial airlines and Amtrak are not allowed to publicize information about its passengers.
One example of how businesses could use the scaled back program to its advantage would be to follow the travels of a competitor’s aircraft. If a mining CEO is enroute to a small town airport near an available for sale mineral mine, her competitors will know about it and could swoop in and counter the offer.
Of course, if you are an FBO operator, the proposed rules would let you know precisely when a jet will arrive, something that could help with staffing needs. Right now, movement of Executive Jet and Netjets aircraft is tracked on FlightAware, a flight tracking program available to commercial customers.
Photo: Dave Hamilton
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