US senators ask DOT to scrap plans for dismantling BARR


26 senators send letter to Secretary of Transportation

A group of 26 US senators have signed a 29 June
letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood raising concerns that the
government’s plan to dismantle the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR)
program represents “a troubling reversal of a decade-old policy put in
place to uphold the privacy rights of thousands of Americans.”

Organised by Senators Pat Roberts and Mark
Begich, the letter notes that the BARR program “provides owners of general
aviation aircraft the ability to prevent the public dissemination of their
aircraft movements. For reasons of individual security, privacy, and business
competitiveness, this program is essential.”

NBAA president and chief executive officer Ed
Bolen welcomed the support from such a large and influential group of senators,
saying “Congress recognizes that important principles of privacy and security,
and competitiveness for US businesses are at stake.”

“NBAA thanks Senators Roberts and
Begich for spearheading this important initiative,” said Ed Bolen.
“They and the other leaders in the Senate who have added their names to
this letter have sent a clear message that the BARR program should be
preserved.  In addition, the general aviation community and such groups as
the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the
Business Roundtable have also called for the BARR program to be preserved, so
that boarding an airplane doesn’t become tantamount to forfeiting your right to

The senators’ letter states that doing away
with the BARR will do nothing to promote transparency into how the federal
government operates, as some have claimed, nor will it enable operators of
business aircraft to avoid detection from law enforcement, as others have

“The Department of Homeland Security
and other law enforcement agencies have always had the ability to monitor and
track the location of users of the national airspace system,” the senators’
letter says, “and this won’t change with the continuation of the BARR
program. BARR simply prevents unauthorised, non-governmental actors from
knowing the location of private citizens.”

The senators also stressed that it is
“premature to unilaterally implement a regulation on a legislative issue
currently before Congress,” noting that the BARR program is currently
being debated by the conferees on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
Reauthorization bill.