April 2, 2009
By Sarah Brown
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) should consider alternatives to its proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP), said leaders of the homeland security subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations. In a March 31 hearing, subcommittee Chairman David E. Price (D-N.C.) and Ranking Member Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) expressed concerns with the proposal, which would impose airline-style security regulations on general aviation aircraft.
“While it is critical to ensure the security of air travel, whether in the commercial aviation sector or with general aviation, security regulations should not pose an unwieldy financial or logistical burden on the general aviation community,” said Chairman Price in his opening statement. “Any new security requirement the government imposes upon the public must strike a balance between tighter security and the need to ensure minimum disruption of the movement of goods and people in our economy.”
Price expressed the same concern in a letter to TSA Acting Administrator Gale Rossides.
Rogers expressed a similar sentiment.
“General aviation is a critical lifeline to rural areas like mine, boosting opportunities for economic and tourism development,” he said. “I’m concerned that TSA’s ‘Large Aircraft Security Program’ (LASP) could undermine these opportunities in the future by subjecting GA pilots and passengers to unrealistic security requirements. The GA pilots know who their passengers are and whose baggage belongs to whom, and they know the ins and outs, every nut and bolt, of their aircraft. TSA needs to recognize the unique difference between large commercial aviation and vital charter services into small, community airports. I do not believe that a one-size-fits-all approach will work.”
“It is extremely important that the TSA understands the concerns pilots have about this proposal,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. “Comments from Chairman Price and Ranking Member Rogers are important in reinforcing this message.”
Under LASP, commercial airline security procedures would be applied to aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds, regardless of how they are used. The proposal would require crewmember criminal record checks, watch list matching of passenger manifests, biennial third party audits of each aircraft operator, and new airport security measures.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
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