The Transportation Security Administration has held the last of four public hearings into its increasingly-controversial Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) in Chicago, where TSA representatives heard a lot more of what they already had heard from the General Aviation community at three prior sessions.
If the TSA thought of the hearings as an opportunity to sell the LASP idea to general aviation, it has learned otherwise as the crowded hearings were packed with vocal opponents. In addition, a “Stop LASP” Web site has become highly influential among private aircraft pilots and owners, most of whom use their airplanes in business. The group behind Stop LASP also has been waging an apparently-successful lobbying campaign with appropriate senators and representatives, whipping up increasing opposition to the plan, which would mandate airline-style security procedures for aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds.
“In this brutal economy, everyone in every corner of general aviation will be impacted if this plan is enacted without significant changes,” NBAA President Ed Bolen stated at the final meeting. Others stood up for the hundreds of airports, some of which only see aircraft that big only occasionally, which would have to set up and support airline-style security measures.
The TSA has compiled a list of airports that will be required to establish formal security procedures for larger GA aircraft. It’s a long one. Opponents of the proposal say many of those airports will be unable to pay for the security apparatus, thus will become unavailable to larger private aircraft, further reducing the utility that is the chief appeal of private air travel.