House Homeland Security funding bill addresses LASP

June 25, 2009

The House passed an appropriations bill on June 24 to fund the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2010.

A committee report accompanying the bill, H.R.2892, addresses several issues relevant to general aviation pilots, including the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA’s) proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP).

Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), chairman of the homeland security subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, included language commending the TSA for working with stakeholders to develop a modified LASP rule that “minimizes adverse effects on general aviation while addressing security concerns” and urged the agency to “weigh all the costs and benefits associated with new security mandates for general aviation operators and airports.” Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) worked to include similar language in the Senate version of the bill, which has passed out of committee and awaits consideration on the floor.

The initial notice of proposed rulemaking for the LASP would apply commercial air carrier security measures to GA aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds, regardless of how they are used. Responding to objections from pilots and legislators, the TSA has since said it will issue a new notice of proposed rulemaking before issuing a final rule. The appropriations bill commends the TSA for taking this step that was recommended by AOPA and others to ensure additional public comment.

The bill also provides $275,000 to train and alert GA pilots to proper security measures and best practices. When the Appropriations Committee reported the bill, it expressed disappointment with delays in awarding the funds made available in 2008 and directed the TSA to move more quickly with 2009 and 2010 funds.

Also included in the House bill is funding for the loran (long-range navigation) system. The president’s budget had proposed cutting funding for loran, but the committee report rejects termination of loran-C and directs the Coast Guard to provide a plan for upgrading the system to enhanced loran, known as eLoran.