AOPA and other general aviation organizations offer action plan for enhancing GA security
A group of general aviation organizations is offering the new Transportation Security Administration an action plan for enhancing aviation security. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, and the National Business Aviation Association worked with a nationally recognized security expert Admiral Cathal Flynn (the former head of security for the FAA) to develop a set of practical recommendations to reduce domestic security risks.
"This plan could improve security without impeding the personal mobility that general aviation provides American citizens or diminishing the $65 billion contribution that GA makes to our nation's economy," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "These recommendations would further ensure public confidence and raise additional barriers to terrorist use of general aviation."
The groups gave their security proposals to John Magaw, the nominee for the new post of under secretary of Transportation Security in the Department of Transportation, on December 12.
The Aviation and Transportation Security Act, passed last month, requires the Transportation Security Administration to prepare a report on airspace and other security measures concerning general aviation.
The recommendations include:
- Issue new, difficult-to-counterfeit pilot certificates (licenses) that would include a photograph of the pilot. First-time applicants would be required to show a government-issued photo ID to prove their country of citizenship before obtaining a U.S. pilot certificate.
- The U.S. government should review all existing and new pilot certificates to ensure that the pilots are not on any terrorist "watch lists."
- Aircraft owners should take appropriate steps to prevent the theft of their aircraft.
- The identity of an individual renting or purchasing an aircraft should be verified by checking a government-issued photo ID.
- The pilot of a general aviation aircraft should verify the identity of all passengers and ensure that those passengers know what's in their baggage and cargo.
- Pilots should be on the lookout for any suspicious activity on or near an airport and should report that activity. Airports should post signs warning against tampering with aircraft or unauthorized use of aircraft and include phone numbers for reporting suspicious activity.
- The Transportation Security Administration should develop a profile to identify individuals who should receive additional scrutiny before being permitted to buy or rent aircraft, receive pilot training, or work in areas that provide access to general aviation aircraft.
"General aviation is critical to the smooth functioning of our society," Boyer said. "It provides personal and business transportation to more than 18,000 landing facilities not served by the airlines.
"Critical-care medical patients, donor organs, and blood supplies are transported by GA aircraft. The security of electric transmission lines and petroleum and gas pipelines is ensured by GA. Overnight cargo and financial documents fly on GA aircraft.
"These general aviation security recommendations will also help protect the nation's economic system," the AOPA president concluded.
Other aviation organizations, including the Experimental Aircraft Association and the Helicopter Association International, have endorsed the security plan.
The 375,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is the world's largest civil aviation organization. Some 58 percent of the nation's pilots are AOPA members.
[See also: action plan, "Enhancing the Security of General Aviation Operations," and organizations' letter to the new under secretary.]
December 12, 2001