The Transportation Security Administration has extended the deadline for a controversial and largely secret directive that would require security badges and background checks for all general aviation pilots based at air carrier airports. The TSA will meet with industry representatives to consider alternatives and to find solutions better suited to GA, according to a Feb. 25 report from AOPA.
“Pilots are very concerned about the TSA action,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president for government affairs. “The TSA must realize that pilots have a vested interest. Our goal is to work with the TSA to ensure pilots’ need for access at commercial airports is addressed.”
The Security Directive (SD1542-08-04-F) is not open for public comment. It was slated to be implemented “under the radar” while the attention of general aviation was concentrated on another onerous TSA mandate, TSA-2008-0021 (LASP).
“This will surely nail the coffin on general aviation and devastate many, many industries and careers if implemented,” wrote one commentator. “We cannot even gain access to this SD, since it is being cloaked in the secrecy of sensitive ‘national security’ matters.”
The decision to push the deadline for compliance back to June 1 will allow the TSA to incorporate industry input and come up with guidance to minimize the SD’s impact on GA operators and airports, Cebula said. “AOPA will be working with the TSA in the next few days to explore options for keeping airports secure while minimizing the burden on pilots,” he added.
As airports across the country have been implementing new security measures, GA pilots, aircraft owners and FBOs have been frustrated by changing requirements and TSA limits on access to information. AOPA expects the industry-TSA collaboration to produce “clear guidelines that take into account the rules’ impact on operators and airports.”
South Carolina pilot Stoney Truett came up with an interesting response, writing: “I believe that we, the flying public, should advocate that, if this is passed, then everyone who had a hand in its implementation be exiled from general aviation, unless they own their own aircraft and, if they do own an aircraft, they be subjected to all of the background checks and fingerprinting, and be tagged, restricted and humiliated to the same extent as the rest of us. Let’s keep the rascals out of the sky they seek so ardently to ‘secure’.”