TSA to AOPA: Security program won’t target small airports

December 7, 2010

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has confirmed that a new proposal for general aviation security would not target small airports; instead, the proposal would focus on aircraft.

During the American Association of Airport Executives Aviation Security Summit Dec. 6 in Arlington, Va., TSA Assistant Administrator John Sammon said that a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking working its way through the TSA would  reflect the input from AOPA and other GA stakeholders shared in industry working group meetings held last year.

The TSA is working on a new GA security proposal, after deciding to go back to the drawing board on its proposed Large Aircraft Security Program in June 2009 thanks to pressure from Congress and more than 8,000 public comments from the GA community. The original proposal would have applied commercial air carrier security measures to GA aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds, regardless of the type of operation. AOPA maintained that it was burdensome and costly, calling for crewmember criminal record checks, watch list matching of passenger manifests, biennial third party audits of each aircraft operator, and new airport security requirements.

AOPA will review the supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking as soon as it is released, although no deadline has been established. The association expects the new proposal to increase the weight threshold and do away with calls for third party audits, watch list matching, federal air marshals on board the aircraft, and airport security program requirements. Also, AOPA believes the proposal will establish “trusted pilots” who have final authority over items and people on the aircraft.