TSA needs to re-examine security directive

December 18, 2008

AOPA has requested that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) re-evaluate a recent security directive (SD) that could affect tens of thousands of general aviation pilots who are based at air carrier airports.

The directive expands the requirement for background checks and security badges to more pilots based at airports served by airlines. In 2009, pilots based at air carrier airports must undergo a background check and receive a security badge, if they haven’t done so already, in order to continue to have access to the airport. Transient pilots are unaffected by the directive. However, they will continue to be subject to the current escorting and monitoring requirements.

“Pilots have long operated without incident on these airports, and it is surprising that the TSA appears to have implemented such a significant new mandate with no notification or discussion,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. “It will have a significant impact on pilots and airports in many small communities across the country.”

AOPA has expressed its concerns directly to the TSA.

“Based on information from a number of TSA-regulated airports, it is clear that compliance with this SD will necessitate the badging and performance of security threat assessment on tens of thousands of general aviation pilots who operate from these airports,” wrote Cebula in a Dec. 16 letter to the TSA. “While the TSA consulted with representatives from the airport industry prior to issuing the SD, no one from the general aviation community was contacted. This is unfortunate because we could have provided important insight into the effects of such action.”

The TSA is preventing AOPA from reviewing the entire SD, but information from airport managers indicate that it is inconsistent with other security requirements, such as those for security identification display areas at air carrier airports.

“I respectfully request that you re-examine this security directive and allow the general aviation industry to work with the TSA to develop acceptable alternatives that will not impose unreasonable burdens on airports or general aviation pilots,” Cebula concluded.