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Fri, Nov 28, 2008

General Motors Wants To Fly Incognito

Asks FAA To Bar Public Flight Tracking Of G-IV

General Motors is flying under the radar, so-to-speak, asking the FAA to remove a leased Gulfstream IV from the FAA's public flight tracking service.

Bloomberg reports GM spokesman Greg Martin disclosed in an interview the company "availed ourselves of the option as others do to have the aircraft removed" from the public flight tracking database, which allows services such as FlightAware.com to display flight information for anyone to see. 

Such practices are fairly common among business operators... who usually don't want curious onlookers (or shareholders, or the media) to know where their executives are traveling. Given the level of scrutiny now surrounding GM -- which joined its Big Three counterparts Ford and Chrysler to beg Congress for corporate bailouts -- it's hardly surprising GM is reluctant to have such information publicly available.

Conversely, it's for that very same reason why GM's move is raising eyebrows from those wary of the automaker's intentions.

The aircraft in question is leased by General Motors from GE Capital Solutions in Danbury, CT, and is used often for executive transport. Its last publicly-displayed flight was a trip to Dallas from Washington, DC on November 25.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown notes companies "don't have to have a reason" to ask for the block. "We do this routinely," she added.

General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner told lawmakers during a November 18 Congressional hearing that it will run out of funds before the end of 2008 without a corporate bailout.

In September, GM entered into talks with Chrysler owner Cerebus Capital Management over a proposed merger between the two companies, and for weeks it appeared a merger was imminent... but those talks have since broken down, taking a back seat to the automakers' pleas for government bailouts.

FMI: www.gm.com, www.faa.gov

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