Phase-in of new security alert system begins

TSA briefs AOPA on improved notifications

January 28, 2011

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has announced that the familiar color-coded alerts of the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) will be replaced by a new system to provide better terrorism-threat advisories to the public, government agencies, emergency responders, airports, and other transportation hubs.

The new National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) will be phased in over a 90-day period that began with Napolitano’s Jan. 27 announcement.

Instead of using colors, the revised alerts “will include a clear statement that there is an ‘imminent threat’ or ‘elevated threat.’ The alerts will give “a concise summary of the potential threat, information about actions being taken to ensure public safety, and recommended steps that individuals and communities, businesses and governments can take,” said a Homeland Security Department news release.

In some instances, “alerts will be sent directly to law enforcement or affected areas of the private sector, while in others, alerts will be issued more broadly to the American people through both official and media channels— including a designated DHS webpage, as well as social media channels including Facebook and via Twitter @NTASAlerts.” Alerts will also include a specified end point.

AOPA participated in a briefing on the new system during a Jan. 28 conference call with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials, and will serve as a resource for the dissemination of information to members on security alerts that affect general aviation.

“AOPA has a strong working relationship with TSA and other departments within Homeland Security. We receive regular briefings on security matters that affect our members and general aviation,” said Craig Spence, AOPA vice president of operations and international affairs. “Hopefully with the revised threat alert system we will be able to build on that relationship to provide general aviation pilots the information they will need to keep our system safe and secure.”

Some commercial airports with TSA jurisdiction may be required to revise their airport security programs under the new alert system.

Napolitano announced the end of the color-coded alerts and the replacement system during a State of America’s Homeland Security address at George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz | Aviation Writer

Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.