The Transportation Security Administration, better known simply as TSA, has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would mandate new and significantly tighter security requirements for all aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds. In addition, TSA is proposing new mandatory security requirements for airports serving large aircraft.
Under the new rules, aircraft owners and operators would have to submit to criminal history background checks, security threat assessments for flight crews, passenger names checked against TSA “no-fly” and “selectee” lists, and biennial audits of security programs to be developed at aircraft operator expense. In addition, the 320 (or so) airports designated by the Department of Transportation as Reliever Airports, and other airports serving scheduled or public charter operations, would be required to adopt security programs including specific training, record retention, personnel screening and certain personnel notification rules.
Acting on petitions from nearly all general aviation groups, the TSA has extended its time period for public comment by 60 days, the deadline for which is February 27. In the meantime, public meeting are scheduled for Jan. 6 at White Plains, NY; Jan. 8 at Atlanta; Jan. 16 at Chicago; Jan. 23 at Burbank, Calif. and Jan. 28 at Houston.
The general aviation community, including owners and pilots of aircraft of all sizes, is united in opposition to the plan. In a Briefing Paper available at eaa.org/govt/lasp_briefing.pdf, the Experimental Aircraft Association said that it “strongly encourages” everyone involved in general aviation to participate in the hearings. EAA says that the proposal would infringe “on the freedom of movement by private U.S. citizens and their family, friends, and business associates in their own personal or business-use aircraft.” Ed Bolen, CEO and president of the National Business Aviation Association, plans to be at the White Plains meeting to testify. NBAA has posted a list of concerns (www.nbaa.org/ops/security/programs/lasp/concerns.php) which includes a TSA list of 80 items that would be prohibited from cabins, a requirement for private aircraft to carry federal air marshals on demand, and fees for the required security audits.
The full text of the NPRM, 260 pages long, is on the Web at www.tsa.gov/assets/pdf/nprm_lasp.pdf. Written comments can be submitted online, before Feb. 27, at /www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocumentDetail&o=09000064807e067e. Click on the Add Comments icon.