WASHINGTON, D.C. — When conditions in the Middle East erupted and President Obama unleashed air power on the Islamic State, officials at many general aviation organizations here became jittery over ISIL threats to retaliate on American soil.
If there is retaliation, would aircraft be used? Would the escalation of tensions raise the level of concern to a point that would mean an increase in security at airports? Would it mean limitations on flying?
Would it cause Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, the FAA, and other government offices to move in ways that would make certain general aviation aircraft cannot be used as terrorist weapons?
Key personnel at the association offices quickly telephoned their contacts at various government offices. Most of the government contacts could not be openly identified, but GA advocates said early responses were favorable. No immediate action was planned. But that does not mean the groups can relax. Washington moves slowly.
Jens Henning of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) says there is, and has been, a series of rules and regulations that have been working well over the years to keep GA activities and the general public secure. Often these issues and standard practices are overlooked.
But when things aren’t standard — such as the threats posed by ISIL — that’s when we see visible reminders of what GA’s representatives in Washington are doing 24-7 — keeping alert to issues concerning general aviation.
Safety concerns over who flies in general aviation aircraft are behind the recent FAA reinterpretation of what remuneration a pilot may receive from passengers. Selling unused seats to individuals wanting to hitch a ride on a flight going to the same destination was opposed by many, while other pilots see it as a way to not only cut costs, but share in the love of flying.