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    USA Today and ProPublica: Review: Federal program used to hide flights from public

    USA Today and ProPublica report on a little-known federal program and its privacy implications:

    A federal program designed to protect sensitive business deals and executives’ safety is being used by politicians, business executives, university athletic recruiters and others to avoid publicity by hiding their flights on private aircraft from the public, a ProPublica review has found.

    The aircraft owners don’t have to demonstrate any need need to keep flights secret. They simply request secrecy from the National Business Aviation Association, which lobbied for the program and runs it for the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA removes flights from its database before giving the information to flight-tracking websites.

    This week, after a 15-month effort, ProPublica obtained the current list of 1,100 aircraft whose flights had been removed from the database. […]

    Planes on the list range from those owned by Fortune 500 companies such as bailout recipient American International Group, to college athletic programs, such as the University of Alabama, which say they request flight privacy to hide coach searches and recruiting trips. Also granted secrecy were planes registered to federal agencies, churches and newspaper owners. […]

    NBAA spokesman Dan Hubbard said privacy is important to business fliers because competitors can learn of potential deals by tracking planes, and that could affect stock prices.

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