FAA Announces More Privacy For Aircraft Operators


The FAA recently announced greater opportunity for aircraft operators to take advantage of what many consider an important privacy initiative. The agency said it has expanded the availability of the Privacy ICAO Address (PIA) program to include more offshore airspace and routes traversing the Gulf of Mexico.

The program enables operators to use alternate temporary ICAO ADS-B addresses that help prevent third-party data sources from capturing data from ADS-B Out transmissions. Participating in the FAA’s PIA program is an involved process, but worth it for some operators who feel the need for the added security. Heidi Williams, Senior Director of Air Traffic Services and Infrastructure for the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), said, “Some operators have a legitimate security need to ensure privacy and this new policy is a welcome change for those operators.” The program makes third-party call signs available to U.S.-registered aircraft with 1090 MHz ADS-B equipment.

NBAA first requested wider scope for the PIA program in 2020. According to the association, examples of the new availability would include flights from Miami to Houston, passing over the Gulf of Mexico; a flight from Los Angeles to Hawaii; and flights from Boston to Miami on routes that extend more than 12 nautical miles offshore.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.


  1. Who are we protecting from the information the ADSB is providing? Might it be John Kerry and his massive carbon belching gulfstream as he jets around the world preaching to us pickup driving serfs? Or poor little Taylor swift who desires to avoid any of the negative side effects of her fame and affluence? Sorry Taylor it’s part of the deal!

    • We’re protecting Elon Musk, the pseudo-libertarian who literally put the topic in the headlines and spent $44B to control one of the distribution paths for the information.

    • You’d better watch out, chuck … Flyer Don will be “on” ya for mentioning John Kerry again … like he did me.
      Frankly, I don’t understand why ADS-B info has to be public info in the first place.

      • “I don’t understand why ADS-B info has to be public info in the first place.”


        I can’t look up my neighbors drivers license, car tags and then track his every move while he’s utilizing public roads.

        Why should I be able to do that simply because he’s in an airplane and not his car?

      • There’s no security on the ADS-B out transmissions (almost necessary for other aircraft to be able to receive and use the info in the first place). The ICAO hex code is unique to the aircraft and even if the FAA made that hex code private, it wouldn’t take much to figure out the hex code for John Kerry’s or Elon Musk’s aircraft. The FAA appears to want to allow them to use a random hex code at times– sortof like randomly changing your license plate number on your car. The references to overwater/international airspace tells me there may be some reason they can’t over U.S. airspace, so it sounds like tracking aircraft inside the U.S. won’t change. Frankly I don’t think John Kerry or Elon Musk give a crap. They’re like religious leaders to their followers and can do no wrong any more than Joel Osteen can with his followers.

        • “The references to overwater/international airspace tells me there may be some reason they can’t over U.S. airspace”

          Over very large bodies of water (e.g. oceans), ADS-B signals can only be tracked by satellite (Aireon) and of course other aircraft. You have to pay big bucks for Aireon data, and governments (which subscribe to its data) can of course limit the distribution of that data to the public.

          Over land, many aviation enthusiasts capture the ADS-B signals and upload the data to entities like FligthAware (which filters data) and
          … ADSBexchange which does not filter the data.

      • Larry, please ask Chuck to move on from John Kerry. Kerry is 80 years old. He probably spends more time sitting on the toilet these days then sitting in his wife’s jet.

  2. Gee, no one mentions the carbon belching 757 that the MAGA king zooms around in trying to convince folks to belch more carbon. Oh sorry, I forgot, combat vets suck, and draft dodgers are cool.

    • How silly. You can also participate. There are no requirements.
      And given the number of nutters in the world, celebrities *need* this more than us commoners. That’s how it is.

  3. Yes, let’s protect the Musks of the world, as they jet around incrementally destroying our democracy…

    • What? Musk is now “destroying democracy”?

      There’s a lot of hyperbole here, but I think you are top dog. It is this some sort of twisted argument over the Twitter purchase? The Koch’s aren’t quite the boogeymen anymore since one died? What?

  4. How about not showing MY N-Number and MY home address and MY every flight to everyone in the entire world?

  5. I get the impression from these comments that very few aircraft owners know that they can have their registration numbers restricted from being shared with third party providers like Flightaware or Flightradar24. The FAA has a program called Limiting Aircraft Data Displayed (LADD) that keeps people from watching your flights. My friends and I found it necessary to do this when flying on the west coast and being reported for “dangerous formation flying” over certain peoples houses. We were normally at 5000+ feet but the people on the ground knew to look on one of the flight trackers and get the tail numbers and then call the FAA. After a couple of conversations with the local FSDO we found out about LADD and applied and were approved. None of us were celebrities but we felt safer knowing we couldn’t be tracked.

  6. Most everyone has an LLC that the aircraft is registered through….so as to try and avoid personal liability. Finding WHO owns and operates the LLC would be more beneficial to anyone “snooping”. And to do that is pretty near impossible I believe. So who cares the plane is reg to 329LP LLC or 444 Happy Days LLC.

    • LLC in California are public. So LLCs incorporated in California does not shield you. Only a few states have LLC information as non public.