The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice (FAA Notice) that it is replacing the current methods for restricting release of private aircraft flight plan data.  The revisions will go into effect on August 2, 2011, but to retain the benefits of the BARR program, general aviation operators and on-demand air charter aircraft operators need to act on or before July 5, 2011.  The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and other associations are seeking interim, judicial relief from this action, but there is no assurance that they will succeed.

Operators seeking to block public access to their flight plan data information must submit a written notice of a "Certified Security Concern."  According to the clarifying information accompanying the FAA Notice, companies need to consider the following:

  1. Do you qualify?  To claim a Certified Security Concern, an operator must establish: (a) facts and circumstances establishing a "Valid Security Concern," meaning a verifiable threat to person, property or company, including a threat of death, kidnapping or serious bodily harm, a recent history of violent terrorist activity in the area in which the aircraft will operate, or a threat against a company; or (b) that the owner or operator has a bona fide business-oriented security concern under Treasury Regulation 1.132-5(m).  To fit within the Treasury Regulations, there needs to be a specific basis for the security concern (not a generalized concern) AND there needs to be an "overall security plan" and "independent security study" applicable to that employee.
  2. What must you file?  The FAA Notice does not specify what, if anything needs to be included to establish a Certified Security Concern.  However, in response to NBAA questions, the FAA provides the following guidance:
    1. The security concern must exist at the time of certification;
    2. No supporting documentation is required; and
    3. There is no form.

For those operators seeking to claim a Certified Security Concern, a letter containing the following information should be sent-electronically and via "snail mail."

  • Identification of the aircraft (make, model, serial and registration numbers);
  • A statement that that either there is a Valid Security Concern affecting the aircraft at issue, or that there is a business-oriented security concern under the Treasury Regulations; and  
  • A request that the FAA block the aircraft identification either prior to FAA release of the data-feed (preferred) or to block the aircraft identification from release by subscribers to the FAA data feed.  

Letters should be emailed to CertifiedSecurityConcern@faa.gov; a registered copy should be send to: FAA Certified Security Concern, ATO System Operations Services, Room 1002, 800 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC  20591.

In the future, the FAA may issue a mandatory form that may place unfavorable requirements or consequences on operators.  Until then, it is our expectation that the FAA will honor requests without inquiry (and may examine filings at a later date).  We will keep you updated on developments.