Report: GA not a significant threat

June 18, 2009

The security threat posed by general aviation is “limited and mostly hypothetical,” a report released by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General concludes.

The report, which addresses the Transportation Security Administration’s role in GA security, finds no significant vulnerabilities in GA operations in the United States. The TSA and the GA community have taken effective steps to address security concerns, it notes.

“We determined that general aviation presents only limited and mostly hypothetical threats to security. We also determined that the steps general aviation airport owners and managers have taken to enhance security are positive and effective,” reads the report. This validates what AOPA, the GA industry, and the TSA have always contended, said AOPA President Craig Fuller.

The report outlines the steps that the TSA and GA stakeholders have taken to strengthen GA security, including measures such as AOPA’s Airport Watch Program, which is coordinated with the TSA to educate pilots and airport employees about ways to enhance the security of their airports and aircraft.

“The report notes that while the threat is minimal, it is not non-existent and that constant vigilance must be maintained, which is why AOPA coordinated with the TSA to develop and implement the Airport Watch program,” Fuller said. “We have always done our part and will continue to do so. And we appreciate the recognition that our efforts have been effective.”

According to the inspector general’s report, the TSA’s strong lines of communication and working partnerships with industry stakeholders “enable the GA industry to obtain, assess, and provide security programs and policies to address security vulnerabilities.” It goes on to note that industry stakeholders have pointed out that areas for improved communication remain, such as in the release of the controversial Security Directive 8F. (The TSA considered the industry’s concerns and later released a new security directive addressing some of the issues.)

The report was requested by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) following an investigative report aired by a Houston television station concerning security at three local airfields; it concluded that allegations of weak security at the airports were not compelling.