AOPA President Phil Boyer and Admiral James Loy
The new head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Admiral James Loy, today pledged to work with AOPA "on issues of importance to general aviation." AOPA President Phil Boyer and Senior Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula met with Adm. Loy to acquaint him with AOPA and the concerns of general aviation pilots. Boyer noted that Loy was more open than previous TSA leadership. Adm. Loy said that because of his past experience leading the U.S. Coast Guard, he "understood the need for a partnership with industry to accomplish critical tasks."
Boyer remarked that it is obvious that there are now two agencies regulating general aviation: the FAA and TSA. While historically the FAA has been at the forefront, today TSA has taken an equal role with the FAA in making important decisions affecting GA operations, airspace, airports, pilots, and passengers. Therefore, it is very important that AOPA develop working relationships at all levels of the new agency.
Boyer and Cebula demonstrated some of AOPA's capabilities that could assist TSA. They showed him a scene from a new videotape that the association is producing to dramatize for pilots suspicious activities at airports. The tape will be a key element of the national AOPA Airport Watch program. The program, modeled after the highly successful Neighborhood Watch program, will enlist the more than 385,000 AOPA members to watch for and report possible terrorist or criminal activities at the nation's 5,400 public-use airports. Adm. Loy was pleased that AOPA was taking a proactive step in addressing GA airport security.
But Boyer also told Loy of his frustration over another AOPA security initiative that remains stalled within the federal bureaucracy. In February, AOPA had petitioned the FAA to require pilots to carry a government-issued photo ID (such as a driver's license) along with their pilot and medical certificates. Although Congress and TSA have endorsed the proposal, the FAA has yet to act. Adm. Loy promised to look into the issue and accelerate its implementation.
AOPA pledged its resources to assist TSA in its enormous task. But Boyer cautioned that while the association supported the goal of enhanced aviation security, there could be times when AOPA would be forced to oppose TSA actions if common sense didn't prevail.