Technology Sectors

Market Sectors

Private aircraft flight plans won’t be disclosed after all, says FAA

The owners and operators of private aircraft won a reprieve on December 16 when the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it will continue to allow those owners and operators to keep confidential their plane’s tail numbers and flight plans, rather than have that sensitive information automatically disclosed as part of two nationwide public aviation information dissemination systems.

The FAA said it acted after Congress passed H.R. 2112, the bill that appropriates funds for the U.S. Department of Transportation for the balance of FY2012, which includes language that specifically bars the FAA from implementing any limitation on aircraft owners’ rights to have their aircraft data blocked.

The FAA’s recent decision represents a turnabout from its earlier announcement last June that only aircraft owners and operators who had specifically requested and been granted a “Certified Security Concern” status would be allowed to keep their aircraft data confidential. That FAA decision was reported in Government Security News on June 3.

Currently, a wide variety of business, general aviation and “on-demand” commercial airplanes are able to request that the registration numbers for their planes and the flight-tracking data that describes their planes’ specific flights, should be withheld from public disclosure in two nationally-distributed information systems. One system is known as the “Aircraft Situation Display to Industry,” or ASDI, and the other is called the “National Airspace System Status Information,” or NASSI.

In light of the recent congressional appropriation language, the FAA said it is withdrawing the policy it published on June 3.

“Instead, in early 2012, the FAA will propose and solicit comments on procedures for all aircraft owners and operators to request that the FAA block their aircraft data from the FAA’s public ASDI data feed,” said the agency, in a Federal Register notice it published on Dec. 16.

In addition, the FAA noted that any aircraft data that had previously been blocked will remain blocked.

The FAA is planning to develop new procedures for aircraft owners and operators to request that their data be blocked going forward. While that rule-writing process unfolds, the FAA announced on Dec. 16 that aircraft owners and operators can continue to file such requests under the existing program.

“Until the FAA adopts final procedures for submitting ASDI block requests, aircraft owners and operators can submit their ASDI block requests via electronic mail address for the prior program: CertifiedSecurityConcern@faa.gov,” said the FAA’s notice.

Further information is available from the FAA’s John McClure at 540-422-4648 or john.mcclure@faa.gov.