November 1, 2008

QOn the issue of homeland security, the challenge facing policymakers is finding the right balance between security, individual rights, and the economic viability of the general aviation industry. What are your views on general aviation security?

Barack Obama

I believe that our country must continue to be vigilant in strengthening our homeland security, and I applaud the efforts of general aviation users to ensure that our airports and skies remain safe through efforts such as Airport Watch. As president, I will work with the general aviation community to ensure that security regulations are implemented in partnership with aircraft users and that we do not implement one-size-fits-all policies that undermine the strengthen of the general aviation industry.

John McCain

America faces a dedicated, focused, and intelligent foe in the war on terrorism. This enemy will probe to find America’s weaknesses and strike against them. The United States cannot afford to be complacent about the threat, naive about terrorist intentions, unrealistic about their capabilities, or ignorant to our national vulnerabilities. That is why I fought for the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration and the creation of the U.S. Northern Command with the specific responsibility of protecting the U.S. homeland. These federal agencies have developed the expertise to secure our transportation systems and to prevent the misuse of aviation as a weapon. As the nature of the threat changes, they are designed to adapt accordingly. However, I don’t think that security is just a federal responsibility—the whole aviation community needs to be involved when it comes to aviation security and safety. It is almost impossible to have federal security officials watching every general aviation airport and every general aviation airplane. I think the Airport Watch program, supported by AOPA, is a great example of the type of cooperation we need. As I develop homeland security policies, I will always keep in mind that to impinge on the rights of our own citizens or restrict the freedoms for which our nation stands would be to give terrorists the victory they seek.

Next: What specific qualifications will you look for when nominating an FAA administrator?