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You Can Still Block Your N Number - Maybe

'Valid Security Concern' must be certified

By Mac McClellan, Editor-at-Large, EAA 747337

June 24, 2011 – The FAA has issued a Q&A document to help explain which airplane owners can continue to block display of their flights after the Blocked Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program ends later this year. Only those who are able to “certify” that a “Valid Security Concern” exists will be allowed to block the tracking of their flights by N number on Internet sites that are available to anyone in the world.

Until the FAA and DOT changed the rules on June 3, airplane owner could ask without any reason to have flight tracking of their N number blocked from sites available to the public. Under the new rules only those airplane owners and operators who “certify” to the FAA that they have a “Valid Security Concern” can have the flight tracking of their N number blocked.

The FAA’s definition of a “Valid Security Concern” - which is the specific language the FAA uses in the new rules - is the existence of a very specific “verifiable threat to person, property, or company, including threat of death, kidnapping, or serious bodily harm against an individual, a recent history of violent terrorist activity in the geographical area in which the transportation is provided, or a threat against the company.” In other words, an overall concern for the safety and security of airplane owners and passengers and their privacy does not qualify.

However, in its Q&A on how to establish a Valid Security Concern the FAA says you do not need to conduct an independent study to establish that a specific qualifying threat exists, nor do you need to tell the FAA what you believe the threat to your safety is. There is no form to fill out or list of specific questions to answer to establish that there is a threat.

The bottom line is that the airplane owner and operator must “certify” that an actual - not potential - threat exists at the time of certification. When and if the threat no longer exists, the certification must be changed. If it is a continuing threat you must certify that the threat exists at least once each year. The FAA does not specify how or even if it will audit or confirm that the “certified” threat meets the standard.

You can read the FAA Q&A on how to certify a Valid Security Concern here. July 5 is the deadline for sending notice to the FAA of your Valid Security Concern. EAA is working with other aviation groups, including NBAA and AOPA, to have the BARR restored for all aircraft owners who want to retain their privacy and is supporting legal action to prevent ending the BARR program.


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