AOPA Aviation Technical Specialist Leisha Bell takes part in a live test of the Airport Watch hotline, simulating a call from a pilot reporting suspicious activity at an airport.
As promised, the Transportation Security Administration on Monday activated the toll-free hotline for AOPA's Airport Watch. 866/GA-SECURE (866/427-3287) is one of 20 lines answered by the National Response Center.
AOPA worked closely with the TSA to educate the National Response Center about general aviation and GA airports and helped develop the types of questions the NRC operators will ask. Monday afternoon, AOPA Aviation Services staff members placed several calls to 866/GA-SECURE as part of a previously arranged simulation to give the NRC operators a chance to use the newly developed protocols.
"As a result of the telephone drills, we and the TSA have identified some areas that need fine tuning," said AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Bill Dunn, who has overseen development of AOPA's Airport Watch. "But on the whole, AOPA is pleased that the TSA has delivered one of the crucial elements needed for Airport Watch to work: a centralized, easy-to-remember number for pilots to report suspicious activity."
When you call 866/GA-SECURE, expect an automated answering system to say you've reached the National Response Center. After going through a short telephone menu, a live operator will pick up. The operator will want to know your name (although you may choose to remain anonymous), phone you're calling from, and location. You'll also be asked about the type of activity and when and where you saw it. If your call involves suspicious persons or vehicles, be prepared to volunteer that information.