April 16, 2002
In a Senate transportation appropriations subcommittee hearing on aviation safety and capacity issues, Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) stated that "the biggest weakness in the national transportation system is in the FBOs," and that while there are security measures in place for commercial aircraft, there is "no consideration given to security of private aircraft. Literally anyone can get in a private plane." Senator Campbell left the hearing after he made his comments, so the sole witness at the hearing, FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, did not respond.
"It's unfortunate that Senator Campbell made these statements today giving the public the perception that general aviation is not safe. Frankly, I am distressed that general aviation continues to be the whipping boy when we are not the security threat," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. The general aviation community has been proactive ever since the events of 9/11, including a series of security recommendations made last December by AOPA and other general aviation organizations to John Magaw, under secretary of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Two weeks ago, Boyer also shared these with Homeland Security Director former Governor Tom Ridge.
"We've repeatedly expressed a willingness to work with the government on security, including AOPA's petition for a direct final rule requiring pilots to carry a picture ID—something the FAA seems reluctant to do," Boyer said. "We extend our willingness to work with Sen. Campbell, but he must remember, we are not the threat. Security regulations must recognize the unique nature of general aviation pilots."
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AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.