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Congress Reinstates the BARR – What's Next?
November 21, 2011
It was a battle that began last March with the Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) announcement that it would severely curtail the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program. But, on November 17, Congress approved a measure including language that effectively reinstated the program as soon as the bill was signed by President Obama.
“The BARR is a congressionally enabled program, and it’s clear that Congress doesn’t want the government to use any resources to limit it,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen.
For over a decade, the BARR has provided operators the ability to “opt out” from having their flights tracked by anyone, anywhere in the world, if they have an Internet connection. The government’s decision to severely limit the program meant that only those operators who could demonstrate to the government’s satisfaction that they had sufficient security concerns to warrant flight-information blocking could participate.
As reported by NBAA, language to reinstate the BARR program came in the form of H.R. 2112, a comprehensive funding package for several federal agencies, including the DOT.
Cheers From the Flight Line
“I am absolutely thrilled,” said Brad Pierce, president of Restaurant Equipment World, an NBAA Member Company. Pierce flies a turbo Cirrus from his base in Orlando, FL, to destinations around the country, meeting with both vendors and customers. Like many NBAA Members, Pierce said he routinely used BARR to keep competitors from tracking his movements until he was no longer eligible for the program when the FAA moved to limit it last August.
“Without the BARR, there were a number of flights we did not make to airfields right at our customers’ and vendors’ locations,” Pierce explained. “We have gone to alternate airfields that are less convenient. We had to drive further from the airport and lost efficiency that way. That’s been a concerted effort to make sure any competitors that were looking at me and tracking our aircraft to see where we’re going would not be able to pinpoint exactly where my customers are.” Now, he said, “I’ll be the first to sign up for the new BARR program.”
How Will the BARR Be Reinstated?
Details on how the BARR program will be reinstated have yet to be worked out, Bolen said. NBAA and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) are appealing the government’s curtailment of the BARR program in federal court. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for December 2.
“Following this legislative victory, we will huddle with our attorneys,” Bolen said. “They will undoubtedly meet with representatives of the Department of Transportation’s legal team and we will determine how best to go forward. But make no mistake: Congress has stepped in and said…the BARR program should continue as it existed from 2000 until August 2, 2011.”