Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate approved aviation security legislation this afternoon without a security mandate for small general aviation aircraft. AOPA Legislative Affairs staff worked over the past week with the House and Senate conferees on a compromise to a harmful amendment requiring a security program for general aviation aircraft sponsored by Sen. Kohl that was included in the Senate version of the legislation. The compromise requires the newly appointed under secretary for Transportation Security to report to Congress on airspace and other security measures that can be deployed, as necessary, to improve general aviation security.
AOPA President Phil Boyer responded by saying, "This is not a mandate for change as the original bill called for, but a study and report."
The bill, S.1447, on its way to the president for signature, also includes language inserted by Rep. Don Young. Young, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, met with AOPA during the post 9/11 period, and his positive clause addresses remaining GA airspace restrictions. Upon the request of an aircraft operator the secretary of Transportation must either lift the restriction or re-impose it by public procedure within 30 days.
Finally, addressing concerns about the terrorists who received flight training for large Transport-category aircraft, the bill requires aliens or other individuals specified by the secretary of Transportation to undergo a background check before receiving training, including training in a simulator, for aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or more.
The President is expected to sign the bill into law before the Thanksgiving holiday.(Read the House-Senate conference report as voted on November 16, and click here for a summary of the key provisions of the bill.)