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Fighting to Preserve the BARR Program
June 6, 2011
“We will continue to fight to preserve the BARR program.”
That pledge came from NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, after the FAA recently published a notice in the Federal Register announcing its plan to dismantle the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program on August 1, 2011.
The BARR provides any person or company using general aviation a means to opt out of having the details of their flight operations broadcast through Aircraft Situation Display to Industry data (ASDI). That information, which is disseminated to the public through a number of vendors, includes the location, altitude, airspeed, point of origin and destination of both commercial and general aviation aircraft, identifying them by tail number and detailing their flight plans. The FAA’s new rule would make the BARR unavailable to all but a few operators.
“We’re disappointed that the FAA has chosen to ignore the comments to the docket” made by thousands of individuals and companies in response to the FAA’s March 4 announcement of the government’s intention to dismantle the BARR.
Bolen pointed out the NBAA’s plans to join with the Aircraft Owners and Operators Association (AOPA) and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) in filing suit to stop the government. The three associations announced their plans on June 6.
Bolen noted that the aviation community NBAA is not alone in its opposition to the dismantling of BARR. In a March 9 letter to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers clearly signaled their opposition to the rule change.
“FAA’s plan to restrict the BARR program would be an unwarranted invasion of privacy, a threat to the competitiveness of U.S. companies, and a potential risk to persons traveling on a general aviation aircraft,” the three business groups said. “Our members utilize all modes of transportation in the conduct of their business. The use of an aircraft is absolutely essential in meeting a portion of their transportation challenges. Anything that singles out aircraft use for separate and punitive treatment is damaging to our economic recovery,” they wrote. “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.”
“The BARR program is important for privacy reasons, for competitive reasons and for security reasons,” said Bolen. “Congress recognized that when they created the program, and they’re considering legislation right now that would preserve the program.”
Earlier this year, NBAA, AOPA and EAA wrote to Rep. John Mica (R-7-FL), chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, urging him to keep language preserving the BARR in the FAA reauthorization measure now being debated on Capitol Hill.
“Our hope is, since that has now passed the House of Representatives, and since several senators have expressed support for continuing the BARR program, that legislation might move in the very near future,” Bolen said.
He added that it is important for NBAA to make their voices heard with Congress on the issue. “Going to the NBAA’s ‘Contact Congress’ web page, using the opportunities that NBAA makes available there, is a good way for members to reach their elected representatives and demand attention for this specific issue,” he said.