Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) has introduced legislation to fully reinstate the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program, so that aircraft owners and operators can opt out of having their flights broadcast over the Internet.
“The federal government’s dissemination to the public of information relating to a noncommercial flight carried out by a private owner or operator of an aircraft, whether during or following the flight, does not serve a public policy objective,” reads “The BARR Preservation Act of 2011” (H.R. 2897).
National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen welcomed the legislation, stating: “Privacy, security and competitive concerns have been at the heart of protests from within and outside the aviation community since government officials moved to severely limit the decade-old, congressionally enabled BARR program. We thank Congressman Pompeo for his recognition of these concerns, and his legislation to address them.”
Pompeo’s bill, which has support from a bipartisan group of House lawmakers, was introduced Sept. 12 and referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Co-sponsors for the bill include: Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC), Rep. Sam Graves (R—KS), Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Rep. Billy Long (R-MO), Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Rep. Donald A. Manzullo (R-IL), Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL), Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), and John Barrow (D-GA).
Pompeo’s bill follows the introduction of similar legislation introduced in the Senate in August by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS).
Following the introduction of his legislation, Pompeo said: “The BARR Preservation Act would allow Americans to opt out of having their movements tracked by anyone other than law enforcement agencies. Preserving crucial privacy protection will ensure flight safety for many users in the general aviation community, which is a vital part of the South Central Kansas economy.”
According to NBAA officials, Congress has repeatedly sounded the alarm on the government’s plans for the BARR.
On Sept. 12, Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, included a provision to preserve BARR in the FY 2012 Appropriations Bill for the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.
In July, 33 House lawmakers sent a letter asking DOT Secretary Ray LaHood to set aside his plans for the BARR. In June, a similar letter was sent by 26 senators.
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.
Separately, 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 is expected in the coming months, NBAA officials said.