The Transportation Security Administration is revising its “Operation Playbook” security program, which affects general aviation operators at airports used by airlines. The “Playbook” is a security protocol intended to keep terrorists guessing at security tactics.
The “Playbook” pilot program got off to a bad start last year, because of questionable TSA inspections at FBOs. According to the National Air Transport Association, for example, “Some local TSA officials incorporated these security measures at FBOs without any advance notice.” The National Business Aviation Association, which has been a leader in efforts to get the “Playbook” program revised or dropped, “TSA [has] indicated that changes to the Playbook were under way, and the updated version being introduced by the agency should reflect the concerns we raised.” The TSA has posted a two-page white paper about “Operation Playbook” online.
Less encouraging is a TSA request to the U.S. government’s Office of Management and Budget to conduct a threat and vulnerability assessment of 3,000 general aviation airports, which expands its scrutiny of general aviation. The proposed assessment would ask each of some 3,000 airports – far beyond the number served by airlines – to submit their own evaluations to the TSA. “Congress, through the 9/11 Commission Recommendation Act of 2007, required TSA to develop and implement a standardized threat and vulnerability assessment for GA airports,” said a TSA spokesman. “The assessment could lead to grants or other means of funding to improve security.”
One wonders how that would affect SATSAir, a South Carolina air-taxi company operating a fleet of Cirrus SR22s, serving hundreds of airports in the eastern U.S. SATSAir recently reported record growth last year, despite a slight downturn in the fourth quarter. Cancellation of airline operations at regional hubs and reduced use of personally-owned aircraft contributed strongly to demand for SATSAir services, according to Steve Hanvey, SATSAir president and CEO.
“We’re extremely pleased with the strong 2008 numbers and the expanded presence in the Southeastern growth corridor that they represent,” Hanvey said. “2008 was a landmark year for our business concept from a financial perspective and signals a growing acceptance of this innovative approach to business and personal air travel.”
SATSAir started its service in November of 2004 and so far has flown 14,000 flights and covered more than 11 million passenger miles, according to company statistics.
For information: www.satsair.com