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Friday, May 27th, 2011

Jet Owners Cant Keep Flight Plan Secret, FAA Says

Private jets will no longer be permitted to block their flight paths and destinations from the public without viding a “valid security concern,” says the U.S. Transportation Department. Private jet owners must submit these security concerns in “written certification” form to the Federal Aviation Administration. According to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, these changes will be taking place because, “Both general aviation and commercial aircraft use the public airspace and air traffic control facilities, and the public has a right to information about their activities.”
 
There are concerns being voiced by corporate groups, such as the National Business Aviation Association, NBAA, representatives of ConocoPhillips, PepsiCo Inc. and 8,000 other companies. These groups are worried about what kind of effect this lack of privacy will have on their competition. For example, competing companies in the same market will easily be able to search the destinations and flight paths of their competitors’ private jets charters online. In turn, LaHood stated that corporations are not the only groups taking advantage of the privacy; drug dealers and college athletic scouts are among others using the secrecy for their own gain.
 
Florida Representative John Mica (R), also the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, attempted to block this privacy bill in March, when it was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill requires the operators of these business jets to submit their origin, destination, and route to the FAA, to better manage air traffic flow. This allows anyone who knows the registration, or “N,” number of the private jet, located on the jet’s tail, to search the jet on public tracking websites such as FlightAware.com. This legislation will go into effect 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.
 
Prior to this bill, the Congress of 2000 decided that the FAA would not require companies who own business jets to give a reason for having their flight information blocked. FlightAware CEO, Daniel Baker, said that about five percent of flights, 2,000 plane operators, use this system to their advantage.

Source: Bloomberg