NBAA, AOPA Take BARR Fight To Court

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The FAA acted "arbitrarily and capriciously" when it reversed a longstanding policy and refused to allow aircraft owners to block their flight information from the public, NBAA and AOPA argue in a court brief (PDF) filed this week. "Very real concerns about safety, security and competitiveness justify giving aircraft owners and operators a way to 'opt-out' of having their flights tracked by anyone, anywhere in the world with an Internet connection," said NBAA President Ed Bolen. "The government ignored these concerns, but we believe the court will not be so dismissive." In their brief, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, NBAA and AOPA argue that the FAA's recent revisions to the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program are unlawful and should be invalidated.

The FAA has failed to "offer any explanation" for its decision to change the policy, which had been in effect for over a decade, according to the brief. The need for "government openness and transparency" must be weighed against personal privacy concerns, NBAA and AOPA said, which the FAA also failed to do. The FAA has until Sept. 28 to file a brief in response to NBAA and AOPA. The two associations will then have an opportunity to file a final brief on Oct. 12. The Court of Appeals will hear arguments shortly thereafter. EAA filed a "friend of the court" brief in support of the suit.