The House members, including mahouny members of the House General Aviation Caucus, urged LaHood in a July 11 letter to yield to congressional action before moving ahead with proposed changes to BARR that would drastically limit GA operators’ ability to keep their N-numbers and associated IFR flight information from being disseminated online by for-profit Internet flight-tracking services. GA operators would have to prove a “valid security concern” to keep the information private following implementation of the proposal announced by LaHood on May 27.
The federal government “should not broadcast the movements of individuals utilizing private aircraft” against their will, the letter said. It said BARR gives companies freedom to operate “free from surveillance or to explore new business opportunities without competitive interference.” BARR also protects business leaders and private aircraft users from “potential threats” from unknown parties.
With Congress debating the BARR program as part of the FAA Air Transportation, Modernization and Safety Act, “we do not believe the FAA should implement a regulation on a legislative issue currently before Congress,” said the letter, whose lead co-signers were Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa).
“We greatly appreciate the leadership of Congressman Graves, Congressman Boswell, and all the cosigners of the letter for working to protect the BARR program,” said Lorraine Howerton, AOPA vice president of legislative affairs.
Since LaHood’s May announcement of plans to curtail BARR, the proposal has generated widespread opposition. On June 6, AOPA, the Experimental Aircraft Association, and the National Business Aviation Association announced plans to seek an injunction against the Department of Transportation’s proposal, which they described as an effort to “dismantle” BARR. "The government’s position is akin to saying anyone with an Internet connection has more of a right to know when you go through a toll booth using a Fast Pass-type device than you do to privacy," said AOPA President Craig Fuller, announcing the court action.
With BARR assuring security and aviation agencies full access to real-time information about flights, the question concerning the proposed changes is “whether a privately owned vehicle can move freely about a transportation system held in public trust without broadcasting its exact location to the entire world against the will of the owner and operator,” he said.