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Senate Includes BARR in Appropriations Bill

November 3, 2011 –  The U.S. Senate passed an appropriations bill on Tuesday that includes language reinstating the Block Aircraft Registration (BARR) program, which the Department of Transportation began dismantling last summer.

The language is part of a funding package for several government agencies, including the Department of Transportation. The bill, which passed by a 69-30 vote, now returns to the House of Representatives for final consideration. In September, Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, included a similar provision to preserve the BARR in a House version of the appropriations bill.

The decade-old BARR program was established to provide aircraft owners and operators an ability to "opt out" of having their aviation movements tracked by anyone, anywhere in the world, with an Internet connection. In March, the FAA formalized its intent to limit availability of the BARR program to only parties who could prove a "valid security concern," and began implementing that plan in August.

As reported in AVWeb this week, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt was asked about the issue at EAA AirVenture in July and said the FAA does not support reinstating BARR. "This is one of those cases where we need to distinguish between a right and a privilege," Babbitt said, adding that flying in the national airspace system qualifies as a privilege.

EAA supported legal efforts by NBAA and AOPA to force reinstatement of the BARR by filing a friend-of-the-court brief in conjunction with the two organizations’ court challenge to FAA’s move. A full hearing on that matter has yet to be held.

In addition, earlier this year the House passed legislation preserving the BARR as part of its version of a reauthorization package for the FAA. The House legislation awaits reconciliation in conference with the FAA reauthorization measure passed by the Senate. 

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