FAA Publishes Final Policy on Aircraft Tracking Rule

The FAA has decided on relatively simple procedures for aircraft operators who want to block their tail numbers on the agency’s Aircraft Situation Display (ASD). That data is available to flight tracking software, such as FlightAware. The National Business Aviation Association has led the battle to allow aircraft operators to block their aircraft identification.

Several challenges from media groups have pressed the FAA to require stiff standards for requesting that a tail number be blocked. The groups maintain that air traffic data is public, and therefore aircraft operators must accede to having their information released, unless there were serious issues. One proposal called for the need to document a “legitimate security concern.”

The NBAA and other groups have argued that publishing flight data is no different than requiring the release of Easy Pass tracking information on automobiles. They say that making an aircraft’s whereabouts public not only makes it vulnerable to terrorist or criminal activity, but also compromises its value as a business tool, if competition can track the movement of a company aircraft – and even obtain historical data on its movements after the fact. Then there’s the simple issue of individual privacy.

NBAA spokesman Dan Hubbard said the association is satisfied with the final rule, which requires only written notice to have the tail number removed from the ASD data.

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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