August 29, 2011
By AOPA Communications staff
AOPA and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) filed their opening brief in court Aug. 29 to challenge the government's decision to severely limit the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program.
In their briefing, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the associations argue that the FAA’s revisions to the BARR program are unlawful and should be invalidated.
“The FAA has failed to explain why it reversed its long-standing policy recognizing that very real concerns about safety, security and competitiveness justify giving aircraft owners and operators a way to 'opt-out' of having their flights tracked by anyone, anywhere in the world with an Internet connection,” said NBAA President Ed Bolen. “This reality has been pointed out in the overwhelming opposition to the government's plans for the BARR. The government ignored these concerns, but we believe the court will not be so dismissive.”
AOPA President Craig Fuller added, “We want the court to understand that this issue should alarm anyone who supports basic privacy protections, whether or not they ever get on an airplane. After all, just because the government collects information doesn't mean it should be broadcast over the Internet for viewing by electronic stalkers, the paparazzi, or a businessperson's competitors. We are confident the court will find the FAA’s unprecedented new policy to defy both law and common sense.”
The decade-old, congressionally enabled BARR program provides operators of private aircraft the ability to opt out of having their aviation movements tracked. However, earlier this year, government officials announced plans to severely limit the program only to aircraft owners and operators who can verify a “valid security concern.”
In June, NBAA and AOPA announced that they would challenge the government's plan in court, and the Experimental Aircraft Association filed a friend of the court brief supporting the suit.
The government's plan to curtail the BARR program went into effect on August 2.
The FAA has until Sept. 28 to file a brief in response to the legal filing from NBAA and AOPA. The two associations will then have an opportunity to file a final brief on Oct. 12. The Court of Appeals will hear arguments shortly thereafter.
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