Legality

Can pilots turn off a plane's transponder?

The aircraft transponder broadcasts a signal every 1 - 15 minutes.  This signal allows the aircraft to be tracked.

Can a pilot turn off their plane's transponder?  For aircraft flying within the FAA airspace, most of the time they are not suppose to.

To dig deep into the law, you can visit Cornell Law School page dedicated to this topic..

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has also written this up.

And the FAA has also published its rules.

How the FBI is using a ‘small air force’ to track suspects

How the FBI is using a ‘small air force’ to track suspects

Law enforcement now has a multitude of helpful tools available to track suspects thanks to advances in technology. Officers can use cell phone data, social media activity and even public surveillance cameras and facial recognition to look for persons of interest. And now, as the Associated Press reports, the FBI is even using a small fleet of undercover aircraft to follow suspects and even to gather cell phone data in some cases. The kicker is this: The FBI holds that it does not need a warrant in most of these surveillance cases.

FBI behind mysterious surveillance aircraft over U.S. cities

FBI behind mysterious surveillance aircraft over U.S. cities

Curious bystanders have noticed low-flying planes around American cities. And now there’s an explanation behind these unusual aircraft flying at unusually low altitudes. The FBI is using these planes to collect information and track the movements of suspects. While the FBI tried to obscure its connection to the planes by creating a fictitious company, the Associated Press has traced at least 50 planes and more than 100 flights in 11 states in a one month period (April 2015) to the FBI and its operations.

Is Spying on Corporate Jets Insider Trading?

Is Spying on Corporate Jets Insider Trading?

Many analysts and investors are waking up to the idea that tracking corporate jets can yield some helpful insights. But some skeptics are asking the question: Is spying on corporate jets insider trading? A closer look at the history of following private aircraft shows that tracking the movement of important people on their personal aircraft is not insider trading and that it is not illegal. There’s even a unique case that focuses on flights in and out of New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport that serves as a precedent in answering this question.

Court Upholds Release of Corporate Jets List Sought by ProPublica

Court Upholds Release of Corporate Jets List Sought by ProPublica

A federal judge has ruled that a list of private planes whose flights were hidden from public view can and should be released under the Freedom of Information Act. The ruling came in response to a suit by ProPublica, the non-profit news organization that had been seeking information on flights by automotive executives to Washington DC in 2008 to ask for financial assistance from the government. Flying by private plane to ask for a bailout makes for bad optics, which is why corporations would prefer to obscure their movements via corporate aircraft.

FAA Moves to Limit Blockout System Hiding Private Jet Flights

FAA Moves to Limit Blockout System Hiding Private Jet Flights

In recent years, the owners of private planes have been able to keep flight records secret if they could cite a valid security concern. Now, the Federal Aviation Administration is proposing new rules that would prevent owners from enjoying such secrecy. The ability to keep flight records secret creates a “transparency issue,” according to the FAA, while a representative of the National Business Aviation Association says that the proposed rules represent an “unwarranted invasion of privacy” and would allow anyone to “electronically stalk” people.