AOPA's Boyer tells TSA it's time to give pilots due process

November 11, 2009

AOPA's Boyer tells TSA it's time to give pilots due process

Jan. 29, 2004 - AOPA is telling the Transportation Security Administration that it needs to act now on the "pilot insecurity" rule. More than a month ago, Congress instructed TSA to give pilots the third-party review they're entitled to if the agency orders their pilot certificates revoked for security reasons. AOPA turned to Congress for relief from the rule after TSA refused to allow pilots to appeal their revocation to anyone but TSA.

In a letter to the acting TSA administrator, Adm. David M. Stone, AOPA President Phil Boyer said the agency needs to "take action to implement changes to the TSA/FAA airman revocation rules as outlined in this new law."

The "pilot insecurity" rule was issued a year ago as a direct final rule, with no notice and no public comment. Under the original rule, TSA could direct the FAA to revoke a pilot's certificate for national security reasons, but keep those reasons secret to protect national security. A pilot's only recourse was to appeal the decision, without benefit of knowing the evidence, to TSA, the agency that had ordered the revocation in the first place.

"While AOPA fully supports the goal of combating terrorism and has worked closely with the TSA in this effort, this should not result in undermining one of the most foundational elements of the nation by suspending the rights of U.S. citizens who hold pilot certificates to 'due process,'" Boyer told Stone.

"[AOPA] members felt their civil rights violated; other certificate holders, such as repair stations, controllers, and the airline community, all felt this had gone 'over the line,'" he wrote. "The issue was the failure to have the opportunity for an independent review of an emergency revocation of a United States Pilot Certificate in the rule.

"Compounding this was the fact that both the FAA and TSA rules were issued with no comment period or advance notice. This combination of factors caused an overwhelming AOPA member outcry."

Boyer said that the dispute over the "pilot insecurity" rule is one of the few times that AOPA has been at cross purposes with TSA, and that the association felt it had no choice but to turn to Congress to resolve the issue.

"Congress included a provision in the FAA's reauthorization legislation for a third-party review for U.S. citizens. Prompt action by TSA is essential to implement this new law and eliminate any uncertainty for America's pilots."

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