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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

ProPublica requests list of businesses trying to hide flight plans

Who other than General Motors is trying to prevent the public from tracking its corporate jets? ProPublica filed an FOIA request for a list of the companies that had requested the FAA to remove their planes' tail numbers from records. The Block Aircraft Registration Request Program allows companies to request for their flight plans to be kept private. Flight plans collected by the FAA on all planes that use public airspaces are typically public. The FAA concluded that ProPublica's requested information was public, but the National Business Aviation Association filed a motion for a temporary restraining order. Now, the FAA will withhold the list until a judge hears arguments from both sides.

Remember last fall when the CEOs of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler flew on corporate jets [2] to Washington, D.C., to plead for a taxpayer bailout? The resulting bad publicity prompted GM to try to prevent the public [3] from tracking its planes in databases compiled by the Federal Aviation Administration.

That got ProPublica interested in how many other companies had asked the FAA to excise their planes' tail numbers from records tracking private flights. So in December, ProPublica filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for a complete listing.

Earlier this month, the FAA concluded that the information was public and planned to release the list on Tuesday. But on Monday, an organization representing corporate jet users went to court to block the release of the records.

More here.

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