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HL Chronicle of Data Protection Privacy & Information Security News & Trends
Posted in Consumer Privacy

Privacy of Private Pilots Upheld

A serious challenge to the personal privacy of private aviators was averted on December 1st, when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rescinded a rule that would have terminated a long-standing procedure whereby private pilots were permitted to shield their flights from real-time flight tracking information made available to the public.


The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) filed comments opposing the change as out of step with mainstream government policy regarding personal privacy. Despite receiving hundreds of similar comments from the general aviation community, the FAA adopted the change as proposed. Henceforth, the only applicants eligible to shield their flights from public tracking would be those who could demonstrate a "valid security concern." Generalized concerns about personal privacy would no longer suffice, the agency said.

The NBAA joined forces with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and challenged  the new rule in the D.C. Circuit.  In November, budget legislation covering the Department of Transportation (DOT) was enacted along with an amendment that prohibited the FAA from using appropriated funds to implement the new restrictions. 

On December 1st – one day before a scheduled oral argument in the appeal – the FAA announced that it was rescinding the new rule in its entirety and on a permanent basis. The Federal Aviation Administration has announced that, effective immediately, those wanting to enroll aircraft in the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program would no longer need to provide a "valid security concern" in order to be included in the program.


Hogan Lovells represented the NBAA and the AOPA in this matter.