Washington, DC, July 13, 2011 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today welcomed a letter sent by 33 lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood, expressing "serious concerns" with the government's proposal to severely curtail the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program.
"First and foremost, all Americans have the right to privacy and the Federal government should not broadcast the movements of individuals utilizing private aircraft against their will," reads the letter, co-sponsored by Representatives Sam Graves (R-6-MO), John Barrow (D-12-GA) and Leonard Boswell (D-3-IA). The letter goes on to point out that "…American companies use the BARR program to operate free from surveillance or to explore new business opportunities without competitive interference.
"…There are security concerns for business leaders and individuals that use private aircraft, and the BARR program prevents unknown parties and potential threats from tracking their movements," the letter continues, while also pointing out that the program has always allowed the Department of Homeland Security and other official entities to monitor users of the national airspace system.
The letter adds that groups outside the aviation industry, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association of
Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have also expressed concerns with the FAA's plans.
"While all Americans support an open and transparent government, maintaining the BARR program is about preservation of personal citizens' right to privacy," the letter reads.
In addition to Reps. Boswell and Graves, the letter was also signed by Reps. John Barrow (D-GA), Don Young (R-AK), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Bill Posey (R-FL), Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Donald Manzullo (R-IL), Bill Flores (R-TX), John Carter (R-TX), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Todd Rokita (R-IN), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Stephen Fincher (R-TN), Tim Griffin (R-AR), Billy Long (R-MO), Russ Carnahan (D-MO), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Jerry Costello (D-IL), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), Mike Ross (D-AR), Michael Burgess (R-TX), Tom Petri (R-WI), Dan Burton (R-IN), Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), Tom Marino (R-PA), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), James Lankford (R-OK), and Brian Bilbray (R-CA).
The House members' letter raises concerns similar to those raised by 26 senators in a letter they sent June 26, which also called on the DOT to scrap its plans for dismantling the BARR, noting that the long-standing, congressionally enabled program prevents the "cyber-stalking" of aircraft movements.
"The business aviation community thanks House and Senate policymakers who signed these letters, as well as others in congress who have said they clearly understand the need for a program that allows citizens and companies to 'opt-out' from having their aviation movements tracked by anyone, anywhere in the world, with any motive," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. "We very much appreciate their support for the BARR, as demonstrated by their calling on government officials to shelve their plans for discontinuing this important program."
House legislation for preserving the BARR program was passed in March as part of an overall House bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). That overall House measure is now being considered, along with its Senate counterpart, by a conference committee that is working to reconcile the two bills into a single FAA reauthorization bill for consideration by congressional chambers.