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NBAA, AOPA Formally File Court Brief to Preserve BARR

EAA filed 'Friend of the Court' brief in July

August 30, 2011 –The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) filed their opening brief in court on Monday, August 29, to challenge the government’s decision to severely limit the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program.

In their briefing, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the associations argue that the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) revisions to the BARR program are unlawful and should be invalidated.

In June, NBAA and AOPA announced that they would challenge the government’s plan in court, and EAA filed a friend of the court brief supporting the suit based on three categories: EAA members value the BARR program, DOT’s proposed dismantling will deprive pilots of significant privacy interests, and the program modifications will create safety concerns.

 “The FAA has failed to explain why it reversed its long-standing policy recognizing that 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 and CEO Ed Bolen. “This reality has been pointed out in the overwhelming opposition to the government’s plans for the BARR. The government ignored these concerns, but we believe the court will not be so dismissive.”

AOPA President and CEO Craig Fuller added: “We want the court to understand that this issue should alarm anyone who supports basic privacy protections, whether or not they ever get on an airplane. After all, just because the government collects information doesn’t mean it should be broadcast over the Internet for viewing by electronic stalkers, the paparazzi, or a businessperson’s competitors. We are confident the court will find the FAA’s unprecedented new policy defies both law and common sense.”

The decade-old, congressionally enabled BARR program provides operators of private aircraft the ability to opt out of having their aviation movements tracked. However, earlier this year, government officials announced plans to severely limit the program only to aircraft owners and operators who can verify a “valid security concern.”

EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower had earlier urged EAA members to contact their federal elected officials to express opposition to the DOT/FAA policy change and support of a House-passed provision overturning it. “A bipartisan coalition of 59 legislators - 26 Senators and 33 Members of the House - have called upon the DOT Secretary to stop the agency’s effort to eliminate the BARR,” he said. “We urge Congress to continue working to pass a final FAA reauthorization bill, which would bring resolution to this matter.”

The government’s plan to curtail the BARR program went into effect on August 2.

The FAA has until September 28, 2011 to file a brief in response to the legal filing from NBAA and AOPA. The two associations will then have an opportunity to file a final brief on October 12, 2011. The Court of Appeals will hear arguments shortly thereafter.

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