Sept. 27, 2019

Despite business aviation’s longstanding support for airspace modernization, including ADS-B equipage, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen emphasized renewed industry concerns over maintaining operator security, competitive intelligence and privacy during a Sept. 24 Senate hearing.

“One of our frustrations at this point, as we come up on a Jan. 1 mandate for ADS-B, is that much of the work that we have done to ensure that getting on a general aviation airplane does not mean giving up your right to privacy, does not mean giving up your right to security,” Bolen told members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation’s Subcommittee on Aviation and Space.

This is not the first time the industry has worked to shield real-time flight movements from the prying eyes of the Internet. NBAA was at the forefront of such concerns more than two decades ago, as newly created commercial flight-tracking websites made it possible to follow an aircraft’s movement across the country simply by entering its tail number.

The association responded by working with the FAA to develop the Blocked Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program, allowing operators to opt-out from sharing identifying information during a flight with commercial vendors, while preserving necessary ATC surveillance capabilities. “That program has been voluntary; it has been supported by Congress; it has continued to be part of a congressional mandate,” Bolen noted.

With ADS-B, however, an aircraft’s Mode S transponder transmits similar identifying information not only to ATC, but to anyone with an appropriate receiver. “At this point, the FAA does not have the program under the ADS-B mandate to continue [blocking flight information from non-ATC entities],” Bolen continued. “We’re hoping that and other challenges will be resolved as we continue to work together as a community to move forward.”

Even with those concerns, Bolen emphasized that business aviation remains supportive of efforts at the FAA and in Congress to modernize the nation’s ATC system. “The U.S. is the world leader in all aspects of aviation,” he concluded. “We look forward to working with this committee to make sure we can say that five years from now 10 years from now, and as far as the eye can see.”