July 12, 2011

Dear NBAA Member,

As you might already be aware, negative comments regarding business aviation have once again been emanating from Washington. NBAA has been forceful in responding, as detailed in my July 5thletter to aviation professionals in the Association’s membership explaining what the Association is doing to counter President Obama’s recent remarks.

In addition to the rhetoric coming from the White House, our industry continues to face another serious threat: the Department of Transportation (DOT) is still planning to dismantle the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program.

This situation should alarm all NBAA Members, whether they utilize the BARR program or not. With this message, I want to explain why that’s the case, what actions NBAA is taking to preserve the BARR, and what NBAA Members can do to support the effort.

First, here’s why the situation matters to everyone in business aviation. The BARR program prevents anyone with an Internet connection – terrorists, cyber-stalkers, paparazzi, criminals, business competitors – from having real-time access to people’s aviation movements. In an era in which such data can be made instantly available to anyone, anywhere, with any motive, there are circumstances in which companies have wholly legitimate reasons for wanting to protect the privacy and security of their flights and the safety of their passengers.

When the DOT detailed its plan to severely restrict BARR program participation, I noted that providing real-time access to flight information 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. But equally important, the DOT’s move signals that general aviation could be singled out for other types of punitive treatment by government.

About 2,000 individuals and companies have agreed, raising principled objections to the DOT’s plan, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers and others.

Despite this overwhelming chorus of opposition, the DOT has moved forward and will institute changes to the BARR program effective August 2.

NBAA, which from the beginning has worked aggressively to marshal opposition to BARR changes, is not giving up the fight. We have filed a lawsuit to block the BARR program changes from taking effect. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and Experimental Aircraft Association also are involved in the legal challenge.

Understandably, many NBAA Members have asked me how they can also help prevent the BARR program from being decimated. I point to three key initiatives, and I hope you’ll also consider taking action on each:

  • First, use NBAA’s Contact Congress resource on the Association’s web site. You can remind your senators and representatives how important the BARR program is to business aviation, and call upon them to ensure that the final version of the FAA reauthorization bill that is sent to the president includes the supportive BARR program language included in the House version of the legislation.
  • Second, you can sign NBAA’s online petition strongly opposing the DOT’s move to severely curtail the BARR and telling government officials to withdraw their plan for doing so. [closed]
  • Finally, you can make a contribution to the BARR Legal Defense Fund that NBAA and AOPA have established, which our Members have requested to support the associations’ efforts.[closed]

Visit the BARR Legal Defense Fund web site [closed] for more information about the fund, or contact NBAA’s Benjamin Schwalen at (202) 783-9266 or bschwalen@nbaa.org.

NBAA will do all in its power to continue to vigorously defend the BARR program, but it will take shared commitment and resources to preserve it. I trust you will join us in this just cause.

Ed Bolen
President and CEO
National Business Aviation Association