The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association and National Business Aviation Association jointly and formally asked on Feb. 5 the Transportation Security Administration to halt work on a plan to impose airline-like security on general aviation. They requested formation of a rulemaking committee that would allow the TSA to work directly with industry to identify effective, less burdensome security enhancements.
The TSA’s proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) would require anyone who operates an aircraft with a maximum weight exceeding 12,500 lbs. to, among other things, perform criminal background checks on all flight crew members, vet all passengers including family members against terrorist watch lists, and submit to biennial audits of their security arrangements by a third-party auditor.
In a letter signed by the presidents of AOPA, EAA, GAMA and NBAA, the associations wrote: “[T]he proposals put forth in the LASP Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) will do little to improve general aviation security and will have disastrous consequences on the industry.” Instead, they wrote, “Creation of a dedicated workgroup would allow industry and the TSA to work together on requirements that would simultaneously enhance general aviation security and facilitate general aviation operations. A rulemaking committee would provide a secure forum for stakeholder information sharing and the development of sensible and implementable measures.”
General aviation, they pointed out, has led, not followed when it comes to aviation security.
“We take a back seat to no one in our commitment to security, and our actions to date have demonstrated that fact,” they wrote.
The Transportation Security Administration is accepting public comment on the proposed rule until February 27th. In recent comments, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano acknowledged the concerns raised by general aviation but did not indicate what action, if any, the TSA might take to address those concerns.