April 21, 2005
The buck stops in Rep. Christopher Cox's office. Finally, after years of "not me" finger pointing among all the federal agencies with a hand in aviation security, and revolving door leadership at the Transportation Security Administration, AOPA now has one place to go to discuss security issues. AOPA President Phil Boyer met with Cox Wednesday afternoon to talk about GA security.
Cox (R-Calif.) is the first chairman of the new permanent House Committee on Homeland Security, with direct jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security and its many subsidiary agencies, including the TSA, Secret Service, and others. And the truth in Washington is that federal agencies are both beholden and responsive to their congressional masters.
"It was a great first meeting," said Boyer. "Rep. Cox believes - as does AOPA - that security measures should be commensurate with the risk. He's also very concerned about the economic impact of overarching security restrictions. And he thinks that we can do more overall damage to ourselves with ill-considered security responses than could ever be done by a single terrorist strike."
Cox also understands general aviation. His father was an AOPA member, and Cox fondly remembers flying with him. Cox's California office overlooks John Wayne-Orange County Airport (SNA) in Santa Ana, one of the busiest airports in the nation for GA. He frequently uses GA for his congressional travel around the sprawling state.
In Washington, where connections and relationships are all-important, Cox is plugged-in on security. He and new Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff attended Harvard Law School together and later worked together at the same law firm.
Boyer briefed Cox on GA security, specifically pointing out that small general aviation aircraft aren't a significant threat. More important, he reminded the chairman of the many steps already taken since 9/11 to improve GA security, including AOPA's Airport Watch program.
Boyer also discussed the Washington Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and other security TFRs, along with the operational difficulties and economic impacts associated with them. And he told Cox that AOPA would return to him soon with a plan for improving the ADIZ and TFRs.
"Security is the new reality," said Boyer, "but it has been frustrating these last years to be bounced around among so many different agencies and committees. Now there is one place to go, and we know that door will be open to us as we supply valuable information about the realities of general aviation."
April 21, 2005
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