Government and GA groups differ over security actions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — While aviation groups here are seeking to reduce the way general aviation pilots are stopped for questioning about possible terror flights, at the same time a powerful Senator was declaring concern about gaps in GA security.

In his opening statement at a Senate aviation subcommittee hearing April 30 about scheduled airline service to small and rural airports, Sen. John “Jay” Rockefeller (D-W.Va) reiterated his concern about general aviation.

“I continue to be concerned about gaps in general aviation security,” he said.

We should not forget, he added, that a private plane could wreak just as much terror as a commercial jetliner.

Just a few miles away from Capitol Hill, Mark Baker, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, was meeting with the head of Customs and Border Protection, stating that “egregious encounters with general aviation aircraft must end.”

Baker said there should be probable cause or a reasonable suspicion of illegal activity before CBP can stop or encounter general aviation aircraft.

Resolving the problems general aviation has apparently will not be easy. Rockefeller said in the 13 years since the Transportation Security Administration was created, “we have learned overall security in all transportation systems are not becoming easier to overcome.”

Comments

  1. Chris,
    The operators of rental trucks in Iowa are being stopped and harassed. Or at least they were. I had an encounter with an Iowa state trooper at a marked truck inspection station where they inspected my ICC paperwork which was in good order but insisted that I didn’t have proper insurance. His reasoning: I had declined the rental insurance as my company provided that insurance and instructed me not to buy supplemental insurance. I explained repeatedly to him that the rental contract was between me and Penske, Penske could not rent an interstate truck without an DOT number, and they had to have insurance that met DOT requirements (I’m a Part 135 pilot, so I know these things), yet he insisted on delaying me 45 minutes. Then after he was told in no uncertain terms that the paperwork was in order by his bosses, he insisted I couldn’t leave until I opened the back of the truck. Back then, I did, because I was on a tight schedule en route to Michigan. Today, I’d tell him to get a warrant. I have no doubt things have gotten considerably worse since 2003.

  2. Chris – perhaps they are choosing to only look where the light is better.

  3. People fear the most what they know about the least. If you do not own an airplane or you do not own a gun you will be automatically fearful of these hobbies/pursuits. Where is Sen. Joe Manchin of WEST V on this? He is an airplane owner and could speak knowledgeably to counter Rockefeller’s stupid statements.

  4. Paul Tomascik says:

    It’s clear that Senator Rockefeller is not an aviator. He is entitled to express his opinions but I question his understanding of security issues when he makes prejudicial statements without evidence. Senators, or anyone in high office, should be careful with their words because of their influential positions in society. Sadly he has done more harm to himself with vitriolic comments that reflect more of a personal gap than one in GA security.

  5. “we have learned overall security in all transportation systems are not becoming easier to overcome.” – Sen Rockefeller…

    Maybe because those darn unreasonable pilots keep insisting on being treated like free citizens instead of potential terrorists simply for having the gall to fly their own airplanes.

    Private airpanes can only wreak as much terror as a commercial jetliner if you suspend the laws of physics, something on which the esteemed Senator doesn’t seem to have a clue. At any rate the CBP harrassment of GA isn’t about terrorism, it’s about the failed War on Drugs. I’m hearing reports that pilots are being searched simply for making fuel stops in colorado, now that pot is legal there.

    I’m still waiting for drivers of box vans to be harrassed and stopped. I seem to recall a massacre not too far from where I live that involved a Ryder truck and some fertilizer. A couple of decades later, and you can still drive a box van almost anywhere in a densely populated area with no monitoring from the Feds.

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