As part of the general aviation community’s coordinated, proactive national response to securing our aviation resources from potential acts of terror, every agency and participant is working to promote a strong security culture.
Since December 2002, a toll-free national government hotline (1/866-GA-SECURE, or 1/866-427-3287), has been in operation as part of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association's (AOPA’s) Airport Watch program. This hotline provides a fast, easy means for reporting and acting on information provided by America’s 560,000 pilots. The hotline is staffed 24/7 by the TSA’s Transportation Security Operation Center (TSOC). Based on the information a pilot gives them about a possible threat, they will contact all the appropriate authorities in that airport’s local community, or state and federal law enforcement agencies as needed.
In addition to pilot screening and credentialing programs, the FAA and TSA have taken a number of actions addressing security for flight schools and for those facilities that rent out aircraft. Federal law requires that appropriate staff at flight schools undergo TSA-mandated security awareness training on a current and recurring annual basis so that they can recognize any suspicious circumstances and/or activities of individuals enrolling in or attending a flight school; the types of suspicious behavior that require further investigation; and actions to take if the employee suspects terrorist intent. The training includes a review of numerous different scenarios covering actions that terrorists may attempt at airports.
All U.S. flight schools must have an acting security manager that oversees the school’s implementation and compliance with all mandated security programs.
For companies that fly scheduled or charter flights carrying passengers, cargo, or both using aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds, the federal government has established airline-style security requirements. Known as “the twelve-five rule,” the Twelve-Five Standard Security Program (TFSSP) requires these operators to carry out a range of prescribed security measures, including criminal background checks on their flight crews, and allowing only required crewmembers to have access to the flight deck.
Stricter measures are required by the federal government for companies that fly even larger charter aircraft, including more stringent passenger and baggage screening requirements, and security measures that parallel those used by the airlines.
The historical record proves that business aviation is one of the safest and most secure forms of transportation available. The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) represents the aviation interests of more than 7,000 companies that own or operate general aviation aircraft as an aid to the conduct of business, or that are involved with some other aspect of business aviation. As an adjunct to the security practices prescribed by various government agencies, NBAA has published Best Practices for Business Aviation Security. These voluntary guidelines cover security practices related to people, facilities, aircraft, and procedures.
General aviation pilots, FBO employees, airport operators, and others involved in aircraft operations all have the opportunity to anonymously report suspicious activity. Although human trafficking is rarely conducted via private air travel, it is important aviators remain vigilant. DHS defines human trafficking as “sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.” Law enforcement can be notified via 866/347-2423.
Updated October 31, 2019