Summit highlights large aircraft security proposal

December 11, 2008

Large aircraft security proposalDuring a Dec. 10 aviation security summit in Washington, D.C., with airport officials and representatives from the Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security, AOPA expressed members’ concerns about the proposed Large Aircraft Security Program.

The proposal applies to aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds and calls for flight crewmember criminal history records checks, watch list matching of passenger manifests, aircraft security, biennial third-party audits of each aircraft operator, and new airport security requirements.

AOPA Vice President of Security Craig Spence participated on a General Aviation Security panel during the summit and addressed the rule’s unprecedented intrusion on general aviation by applying commercial standards. He also discussed the fact that no justification has been provided for setting the aircraft weight requirement at 12,500 pounds, concerns that the rule could expand to all sizes of GA aircraft, and the requirement to use and pay for third-party auditors to perform a government function.

“This proposal represents an unprecedented move to regulate general aviation security,” said Spence. “It fails to take into account the inherent differences between general aviation and commercial flying and imposes a set of comprehensive and costly security regulations without justification.”

AOPA had requested that the TSA conduct public meetings to hear from pilots exactly how the program would impact their flight operations.

“We’re looking forward to the TSA’s announcement for public hearings on the proposal so that pilots will be given the opportunity to voice their concerns in person,” said Spence. “AOPA members are concerned that implementing such a program would set a precedent that could be applied to the entire GA fleet.”

AOPA is developing a member action center that will assist pilots in drafting their comments on the proposal.