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ADS-B Privacy

FAA acknowledges the desire of some operators to limit the availability of real-time ADS-B position and identification information for a specific aircraft.

To address privacy concerns, the FAA has initiated the Privacy ICAO Address (PIA) program to improve the privacy of the following eligible aircraft:

  • U.S registered
  • 1090 MHz ADS-B equipped
  • Using a third-party call sign
  • Flying in domestic U.S. airspace

The PIA program will enable interested aircraft owners to request an alternate, temporary ICAO Aircraft Address, which will not be assigned to the owner in the Civil Aviation Registry (CAR).

This service will be available in two phases:

Phase 1: The application for PIA can be accessed from this page starting on or slightly before January 1, 2020. This service will be operated, monitored and maintained by the FAA.

Phase 2: The service will be transitioned to third-party service provider(s) who will operate, monitor and maintain this program, which will continue to be available from this page.

Please Note: PIA assignment agreements obtained as part of the first phase of this program will be terminated or with agreement from the assignee, transitioned to the third-party service provider(s).

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the PIA program needed?

ADS-B Out operates by transmitting the aircraft's unique ICAO address, making identification by any individual with an ADS-B receiver possible. Real-time tracking of the geographic location of a specific aircraft is possible, generating privacy concerns for the aircraft operator community. The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), and members of the General Aviation (GA) community have cited the lack of privacy as a barrier to ADS-B Out equipage. In order to mitigate these concerns, the FAA has initiated the Privacy ICAO Address program with the objective of improving the privacy of aircraft operators in today's ADS-B environment by limiting the extent to which the aircraft can be quickly and easily identified by non-U.S. government entities, while ensuring there is no adverse effect on ATC services.

Why is the PIA program limited to domestic operations for 1090 MHz ADS-B equipped aircraft only?

Other ICAO member states currently do not offer this capability, so it is being limited to U.S. domestic operations to avoid potential conflicts. Aircraft equipped with Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) ADS-B avionics, including dual 1090/UAT equipped aircraft, are currently not qualified for PIA assignment.

Why are operators required to use a third-party call sign when using a PIA?

A third-party call sign enables the operator to maintain privacy while in communication with ATC while allowing the FAA, as necessary, to obtain the identification of the aircraft and its operator for response to security related request from DoD, DHS or local law enforcement. Third-party call signs are available from a "Third Party Call Sign Provider", a commercial service which has a security agreement with FAA.

The aircraft operator is responsible for inputting the PIA and designated third-party Flight ID in avionics exactly as filed in the ICAO flight plan. The aircraft operator will not be permitted to change the PIA or the third-party call sign in-flight.

What is the timeline for implementation of this concept?

An interim Privacy ICAO Address website (Phase 1) is planned to be in place by January 1, 2020, to meet industry concerns, while the agreement and implementation actions for a long-term solution are pursued.

Once the long-term solution (Phase 2) is in place, the interim solution will be retired.

PIA assignment agreements obtained as part of the first phase of this program will be terminated or with agreement from the assignee, transitioned to the third-party service provider at that time.

How will the PIA application process work?

In order to receive a PIA assignment, the requester will be required to submit the following information:

  1. Acknowledgement of the FAA notification of collection and management of personally identifiable information (PII) for the management of PIA assignment and their use in the NAS
  2. Acknowledgement of the PIA Rules of Use in the NAS
  3. Valid aircraft registration for the aircraft which will be assigned the PIA (Permanent ICAO aircraft address)
  4. Proof of authorization to use a third-party Flight ID with the identity of the provider
  5. Aircraft Owner's contact information (Phone number, e-mail address, business or home address)
  6. Aircraft Owner's Individual/Company/Organization Information
  7. Requester's contact information (Phone number, e-mail address, business or home address)
  8. Validation that the aircraft's ADS-B emitter performance is qualified for ADS-B operations (PAPR report within the past 180 days)
  9. Aircraft operator's Justification for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemption, if applicable

The FAA will verify the information provided by the requester prior to assigning the PIA and ensure that there are no open FAA enforcement actions associated with the aircraft, which would preclude the aircraft's use of this mechanism for improved privacy until the current action is resolved.

Once the necessary information has been submitted, the requester should expect to receive a PIA assignment via email within 10 business days.

Upon receiving the assigned PIA, the requester has 30 calendar days to program his/her ADS-B transponder to the assigned PIA, fly in ADS-B coverage airspace, and complete the verification process via the website.

Once the FAA acknowledges that the verification process is complete and validates that the reprogrammed ADS-B transponder is emitting the correct PIA, the requester will receive a final confirmation via email.

However, if the requester does not submit a PAPR within 30 calendar days of the PIA assignment, the assigned PIA will be rescinded, and the requester will need to start the application process again.

For the purposes of this program, a flight in any ADS-B airspace will suffice for the sake of a PIA test flight. Moreover, the test does not need to be a dedicated flight. Aircraft owners may elect to complete the test as part of any routine flight following the installation of a PIA. If you cannot perform a flight test within 30 calendar days of receiving your PIA assignment, please respond to the email you received issuing your PIA. The FAA may grant an extension if no other flights by that aircraft have occurred.

How often will I be able to request a new PIA?

An aircraft operator will be able to request a new PIA assignment as follows:

Phase 1: Any time following a 60-calendar day period from a previous PIA assignment.

Phase 2: Any time following a 20-business day period from a previous PIA assignment.

All aircraft information held by the FAA may be available from the FAA via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) unless the information falls within an exception defined within law (5 U.S.C. § 552). This includes aircraft identification and historical flight information collected by NAS systems for flights which do not qualify for a FOIA exemption.

While an aircraft operator would be able to continue to use the PIA assignment as long as desired, aircraft operators may want to request a renewed PIA on a periodic basis.

Once I receive a PIA, what are the rules for its use?

To maintain the safety and integrity of air traffic operations, the FAA monitors PIA use in the NAS. The following list includes improper uses of PIAs:

  1. Use of PIAs assigned to another aircraft
  2. Use of un-assigned PIAs
  3. PIAs used for operations outside of domestic airspace
  4. PIAs changed in flight
  5. PIAs used with an underperforming ADS-B emitter
  6. PIA used with a UAT or dual 1090/UAT emitter

PIAs used by an aircraft other than the aircraft to which the address is assigned results in a compliance violation of CFR § 91.227 and notification to the FAA. The FAA would have authority to revoke the PIA assignment. Upon reassignment, the aircraft would be required to fly with its registered ICAO address, and failure to do so would result in regulatory enforcement action by FAA, in addition to restriction on the assignment of additional privacy assignments to that aircraft until the enforcement action is closed. Upon detection, the aircraft owner/operator will be issued a warning that requires immediate action to remedy the issue before the next operation involving the assigned PIA. Failure to comply may result in the loss of the PIA assignment.

Please note: An aircraft operator may use the ICAO address originally assigned and recorded in the CAR at any time for operations, including any time while having an active PIA assignment. Use of the assigned ICAO aircraft address recorded in the CAR is required for all flights leaving U.S. sovereign airspace, and it may be used for any other flights at any time, as desired by the aircraft operator. The FAA requires that the user submits documented validation that an ICAO code has been correctly installed into the aircraft's ADS-B avionics after each change.

Questions? Comments? Email us at adsb@faa.gov.

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This page was originally published at: https://www.faa.gov/nextgen/equipadsb/privacy/