General aviation passengers are not a security threat, AOPA said today.
"In our small, private aircraft, our passengers are our family, friends, and business associates," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Just like the family car, we know who is getting in and what they're carrying. There's no better security screening than personal knowledge."
Over the weekend, news stories appeared across the nation decrying the lack of passenger security screening for private charter flights. But AOPA noted there is a difference between personal aviation and charter operations; general aviation pilots know their passengers personally. "We don't pick up hitchhikers in our cars or our airplanes," said Boyer. In fact, AOPA has recommended to the federal government and all pilots that they specifically screen their passengers and cargo before taking flight (see " AOPA offers action plan for enhancing GA security").
Even the most vocal critic of charter flight security, Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, recognizes the distinction between charter operations and Part 91 general aviation.
"In our meetings with Sen. Kohl's staff, it's clear that he is concerned about passengers boarding charter flights and not about passenger security on the typical general aviation aircraft," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of government and technical affairs.