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NBAA Raises ADS-B Privacy Concerns with NextGen Advisory Committee

March 4, 2015

At a recent NextGen Advisory Committee meeting in Atlanta, held to discuss policy issues pertaining to the modernization of the nation's air traffic control system, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen expressed concern that Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS-B) technology, a cornerstone of the FAA's satellite-based NextGen system, may not include needed protections for operators' privacy and security.

"NBAA has long promoted the development of ADS-B," Bolen said, noting that the Association has representation on all the major government-industry groups focused on the technology. "But at the same time, we have consistently pointed out that, in transitioning to satellite-based navigation and surveillance, we need to find a way to make accommodations for privacy, security and competitiveness, and we want to ensure that concern is addressed as ADS-B moves toward implementation."

ADS-B Out transmits an unencrypted, real-time signal that includes the aircraft's Mode S transponder code, its call sign, aircraft type, position and airspeed, as determined by the aircraft's own GPS-based avionics. To date, NBAA has successfully fought to allow aircraft owners and operators to "opt out" from being subjected to real-time broadcast of flight information, but Bolen said that it does not appear that ADS-B presently allows for such an opt-out.

"The need to protect the privacy of one's real-time movements has been well understood not only by industry, but also by civil liberties groups, business organizations and Congress, which has passed legislation requiring the FAA to provide an opt-out from real-time flight broadcast," Bolen continued. "When it comes to ADS-B, we continue to believe that people should not have to surrender their security just because they board an airplane, so we need to find a way to address this concern."