FAA issues flight school security recommendations


AOPA and industry suggestions incorporated

September 1, 2002

The FAA has issued a set of recommendations to enhance security at flight schools and FBOs. The recommendations, which are designed to prevent unauthorized people from gaining access to aircraft, were issued in response to the suicide crash of a 15-year-old in Tampa, Florida. Charles Bishop, who had been taking flying lessons at the nearby St. Petersburg-Clearwater airport, stole a Cessna 172 and flew it into a downtown bank building.

"Since the Tampa incident, AOPA has worked very closely with the FAA to craft practical suggestions that will enhance general aviation security without unreasonable restrictions," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "These suggestions can be implemented immediately. On Tuesday, I urged FAA Administrator Garvey to make them public as rapidly as possible."

Although the FAA recommendations are voluntary, many flight schools have already implemented the security controls.

The FAA's suggestions for security enhancements include:

  • Positively identify a student or renter pilot before allowing access to an aircraft
  • Control aircraft ignition keys so that the student can't start the aircraft until the instructor is ready for the flight to begin.
  • Flight instructors should supervise the student closely, regardless of age.
  • Place signs at airports warning against tampering with or unauthorized use of aircraft, and providing phone numbers for reporting suspicious activity.
    ( See more details on the suggestions.)

The security recommendations parallel many of the suggestions that AOPA and other industry groups had made to the Transportation Security Administration last month.

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