AOPA begins Washington battle against TSA 'pilot insecurity' rules

June 2, 2003

AOPA President Phil Boyer and senior AOPA staff started a full-court press in Washington this week to fight the TSA and FAA "pilot insecurity" rules. Those rules allow TSA to declare a pilot a security risk based on secret evidence and force the FAA to revoke the pilot's certificate. The only appeal is back to TSA.

"If someone really is a terrorist, they shouldn't have a pilot certificate," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "And frankly, we should take stronger action than just lifting a license. But any American so accused must be guaranteed their basic constitutional protections to due process, and that includes the right to appeal to an independent adjudicator."

Boyer personally called on several key members of Congress including Senate aviation subcommittee chairman Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and House Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), as well as freshman members of Congress (and AOPA members) Dr. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and Chris Chocola (R-Ind.)

"Our goal is to sensitize members of Congress to the issue," said Boyer. "And everyone we've talked to so far agrees. While they share our concern for security, they also think these rules appear to violate due process, and that a pilot should have an avenue of appeal to an independent party, not TSA."

"We cannot, we will not, give up our basic rights to protect us from some vague and secret 'threat,'" Boyer said. "We are demanding that the government suspend enforcement of these rules and re-craft them to protect national security and citizen's rights."

But AOPA isn't limiting its efforts to members of Congress. This week the association also raised concerns over the rules with the chief legal officers of the FAA and TSA, and with top-level administrators at the FAA, TSA, and other security agencies.

"We have every indication for our own general counsel and other legal discussions that these rules will not withstand scrutiny in the courts," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of government and technical affairs. "AOPA will pursue every available option to get the rules changed."

[See also AOPA's regulatory brief and the final rules: Ineligibility for an Airman Certificate Based on Security Grounds ( text | PDF); Threat Assessments Regarding Alien Holders of, and Applicants for, FAA Certificates ( text | PDF); and Threat Assessments Regarding Citizens of the United States Who Hold or Apply for FAA Certificates ( text | PDF).]

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