FAA proposes limiting blocks on aircraft tracking

March 4, 2011

The FAA is seeking comment on a proposal that would limit participation in a program that allows aircraft operators to restrict public access to real-time tracking of their flights.

General aviation aircraft owners and operators with privacy or security concerns can request that their N numbers be “blocked” through the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program so that the public cannot access such information as the aircraft’s location, altitude, airspeed, destination, and estimated time of arrival. This information is otherwise publicly available for aircraft on IFR flight plans in the United States. The proposal, published March 4, would limit use of the program to owners and operators deemed to have a “Valid Security Concern.” AOPA is reviewing the proposal and carefully evaluating the implications of such a change. 

Companies or individuals sometimes participate in the BARR program because of general safety concerns, privacy concerns, or to maintain a competitive edge. If the proposal is enacted, written certification of a “Valid Security Concern” would need to be submitted to the FAA annually. 

“A Valid Security Concern is a verifiable threat to person, property or company, including a 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.”

National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President Ed Bolen spoke out against the proposal, saying it 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." NBAA provides information about the proposal and its objections in an online resource.