NBAA's Tail Number Blocking Program Rebuffed in Court

Last Friday, a federal court ruled that the FAA must release its list of participants in the NBAA Blocked Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program. The program was instituted years ago when air traffic information was made public, launching third-party flight-tracking services such as FlightAware. Under the NBAA program, aircraft operators could block their tail numbers from appearing to the public. But after the case of the Big Three automakers' trips to Washington on corporate aircraft, the news agency ProPublica sued to have the data released under the Freedom of Information Act. The NBAA countersued to block the release of the information to ProPublica citing security concerns, but Friday's ruling has upheld the release of the information. The ruling does not include real-time requests for information on aircraft movement, but is nevertheless seen as a setback for NBAA's effort to protect the privacy of aircraft operators. No word on exactly how ProPublica plans to use the aircraft registration information, but 'private' flying has become a bit less private, and a bit more public.