Passengers choose executive aviation for several reasons. Flexibility, comfort and efficiency for starters. But there is a variable that also plays an important role: privacy. Called private aviation for a reason, the attribute has been tested for the past month thanks to some financial reports involving potential investments, Warren Buffet and the overall stock market. It was stated by some media outlets that by tracking a private jet’s movements, investors could determine patterns involving future mega deals.
Whether you would jump on a deal on this information or not is debatable, but the truth is you can track a private aircraft. There are numerous online tracking systems that follow each plane’s path in the sky, commercial or private. Every aircraft has a call sign, which makes it trackable, live, from departure to arrival. The case that involved Warren Buffet specifically was about an aircraft owned by Occidental Petroleum landing in his hometown of Omaha. Three days later, it was confirmed that he would take a $10 billion preferred share stake in Occidental Petroleum. Coincidence or insider trading material?
Ok, we know we can track an aircraft. Is there a way you can block a private jet from being tracked? “Although that’s a popular question these days, our regular clients have known about this for a decade or so. There are ways you can block an aircraft, but only one will work entirely”, says David Gitman, President for private charter company Monarch Air Group.
Firstly, you can opt to block a plane at the internet level. This works by asking the FAA to stop sending the fee to the website tracker. It’s on them now to actually erase you from the grid. Not convinced? The FAA will stop sending the live air traffic data if websites don’t keep their part of the deal and block the tail number. From an operations department standpoint, you will still be able to track that aircraft and some FBOs will be able to follow the jet until its arrival.
There’s another more secure way to do it. Blocking the flight path at the FAA level. No feed is sent to internet providers and the information is kept within FAA towers and systems behind locked doors. FBOs also can’t track the aircraft and, most importantly, individuals nor potential financial stalkers. But believe or not, privacy isn’t what it used to be. And that’s because of technology.
Private charter privacy?
Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS–B). This a technology that allows aircraft to determine its position via satellite navigation and periodically transmitting it, enabling to be tracked anywhere. Yes, so long to the two-layer block. The device is part of the FAAs modernization program and therefore the number of equipped aircraft is rising, as well as ground stations. And aviation enthusiasts willing to invest in an ADS–B receiving antenna are engaging with aircraft tracking websites and spreading the data. Although it requires some knowledge, you should never underestimate an aviation geek.
Truth to be told, there are two decent ways to block tracking, at the internet and FAA level, but only one way to secure absolute privacy. It’s a simple method that does not require technology, just trusting your private jet charter provider. “The only way to really go unnoticed is using a charter aircraft that regularly flies different people. Why? Because it’s not part of a fleet with fixed tail numbers nor it belongs to a corporation that has a permanent rotation of jets. You can even charter a different jet for your return flight to keep all those observers hesitant," states Gitman from Monarch Air Group.
Wanting to go unnoticed while you fly private is getting difficult. You can try out all these options or you can just relax and let the world find out every single destination of your yearly itinerary, like Elon Musk, and facing shareholder scrutiny for registering more than 250 private flights in 2018.
Established in 2005, Monarch Air Group is a leading provider of on demand private jet charter, aircraft management and long-term aircraft lease. Among Monarch’s customers are Fortune 500 corporations, leading entrepreneurs, Government agencies and world leading NGO’s.
* article by Monarch Air Group