Expanded aircraft-tracking plan hit as security risk

March 10, 2011

Would you release E-ZPass data so that the public could track individuals’ and companies’ movements by car? A Department of Transportation plan to curtail participation in the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program would invade privacy, undermine security, and threaten business competitiveness, a group of business organizations told the FAA.

General aviation aircraft owners and operators with privacy or security concerns currently can request that public dissemination of real-time information about their travel be blocked. A proposal made public March 4 by the FAA would limit program access to owners and operators with a narrowly defined “valid security concern.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Business Roundtable responded March 9, writing FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt that the proposal would be “an unwarranted invasion of privacy, a threat to the competitiveness of U.S. companies, and a potential risk to passengers traveling on a general aviation aircraft.”

“Privacy of movement is a fundamental American value. We believe the federal government should, to the greatest extent possible, protect such information rather than transmit it to anyone in the world with a computer connection,” they wrote.

The business groups criticized the impact expanded dissemination of executive travel information would have on competitiveness. “Transmitting the private movements of U.S. companies to competitors facilitates corporate espionage and decreases the ability of American companies to compete,” said the letter.

The groups pointed to ten years of success with the BARR program’s safety and security measures, and appealed to the government to reject a proposal that would enable the “electronic stalking of Americans and American companies.”

In this AOPA Live video, National Business Aviation Association CEO Ed Bolen also addressed the potential for electronic stalking and detailed other concerns about the proposed changes in an interview with Executive Producer Warren Morningstar.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz | Aviation Writer

Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.