February 12, 2009
By Warren D. Morningstar
The Transportation Security Administration’s proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) took fire at a congressional hearing Feb. 11. Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), a pilot and AOPA member, asked AOPA President Craig Fuller about the impact of the security program on general aviation. And Boswell opined on the unnecessary hassles and expenses LASP would impose.
“We don’t see any threats of the kind that are being imagined that produced this regulation,” said Fuller. LASP would impose airline-like security procedures on any aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds.
“The 12,500 pound number goes to a certification guideline, not some sort of careful study of what constitutes hazardous, dangerous weapons of destruction,” said Fuller. “We would hope that [TSA] would get into a negotiated regulatory procedure so that we could have a rational discussion about what constitutes a legitimate threat and what simply constitutes a further burden on an already overburdened private aircraft industry.”
Earlier this week, AOPA sent a “ National Pilot Alert” urging all pilots to comment on the TSA security plan prior to the Feb. 27 deadline. Fuller noted that “if one segment of general aviation can be unjustly regulated, then any segment can face the imposition of unfair regulatory burdens.”
During his testimony before the House aviation subcommittee, Fuller pointed out that a King Air 90 would be exempt from the regulation, but a King Air 200 would have to implement airline security procedures. Noting that he had flown both King Airs, Fuller added, “We have an aircraft in our fleet that takes off at 13,870 pounds and carries four-thousand pounds of fuel. There are two of us up front, and four or five in the back. We know exactly who is in that aircraft. It is inconceivable to me that the people who fly that type of aircraft over the weight limit are really going to have to be subjected to a security system and a security program similar to what large commercial aircraft would have to use.”
He said that AOPA and its members were dedicated to making sure that the general aviation fleet and airports were secure. He reminded Congress of AOPA’s Airport Watch program that’s “worked exceedingly well.”
And he noted that aviation leaders and pilots around the country have testified against the TSA program.
Only 10 percent of the aircraft excise taxes that Washington aircraft owners pay go to the Washington State Division of Aeronautics, while the other 90 percent go into the general fund. AOPA is advocating for legislation that would direct 100 percent of the tax to aviation use.
A Seattle pilot on a ferry flight from California to Maui deployed his airframe parachute near Hawaii and was videotaped by the Coast Guard.
Piper’s latest edition of the Meridian pressurized turboprop features updated avionics and six seats in club configuration for $2.26 million.
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