Washington, DC, November 2, 2011 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today applauded Senate passage of an appropriations bill with language reinstating the Block Aircraft Registration (BARR) program.
"We thank the Senate for approving this bill with language to restore the BARR program, and we hope the House will finalize legislation to reinstate the program as soon as possible," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen.
The language is included in H.R. 2112, a funding package for several government agencies, including the Department of Transportation. Section 119A of the bill states:
"Notwithstanding any other provision of law, none of the funds made available under this Act or any prior Act may be used to implement or to continue to implement any limitation on the ability of any owner or operator of a private aircraft to obtain, upon a request to the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, a blocking of that owner’s or operator’s aircraft registration number from any display of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Situational Display to Industry data that is made available to the public, except data made available to a Government agency, for the noncommercial flights of that owner or operator."
The bill, which passed November 1 by a 69-30 vote, now returns to the House for final consideration. In September, Rep. Tom Latham (R-4-IA), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, included a similar provision to preserve the BARR in a House version of the appropriations bill.
The decade-old, Congressionally enabled BARR program was established to provide aircraft owners and operators an ability to "opt-out" of having their aviation movements tracked by anyone, anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.
In March, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) formalized its intent to limit availability of the BARR program to only parties who could prove a "valid security concern." In August, the agency moved on its intention.
NBAA and other general aviation groups, joined by individuals and organizations in and outside the aviation industry, have expressed alarm over the move, which 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.
A bipartisan, bicameral group of congressional lawmakers has petitioned the agency to reconsider its actions on the BARR program.
In August, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) introduced a stand-alone bill to preserve the program. In September, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-4-KS) introduced a similar measure in the House.
In July, 33 House lawmakers sent a letter asking Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to set aside his plans for the BARR. Review the House of Representatives letter.
In June, a similar letter was sent by 26 senators. Review the Senate letter.
Earlier in the year, the House passed legislation preserving the BARR as part of its version of a reauthorization package for the FAA. The House legislation awaits reconciliation with the FAA reauthorization measure passed by the Senate. Review the language included in the House FAA reauthorization bill.
NBAA and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) are challenging the government’s plan in court. The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) also has filed a friend of the court brief supporting the suit. A full hearing on the matter has yet to occur, but is expected in the coming months.
For more information on changes to the BARR program, visit NBAA's BARR program resources.
Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 8,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention, the world's largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at www.nbaa.org.