In order to guard against unneeded regulations on general aviation airports, AOPA will join a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) general aviation working group developing security guidelines for GA airports. The association accepted TSA's participation offer after clearly laying out a few conditions.
"We do not agree that regulating general aviation airports is the answer, and we do not want these guidelines to become mandatory for a general aviation airport to qualify for federal funding," AOPA Senior Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula said at a recent TSA and industry meeting in Washington, D.C.
Cebula pointed out the tremendous strain federal flight restrictions and other security measures have already placed on the general aviation community. "We do not want to see the general aviation community and our members further harmed by any of these security recommendations."
In response, TSA representatives promised that the purpose of the working group would be to develop federal guidelines, not regulations, at various categories of general aviation airports. Citing the patchwork of states attempting to develop their own airport-related security requirements (such as New Jersey's two-lock requirement), TSA felt this approach was necessary.
Many recommendations have already been made by the general aviation community on ways to improve security, including a 12-point plan developed by the General Aviation Coalition. The working group will look to utilize and expand on those recommendations.
It will be AOPA's job to represent the pilot users of an airport to ensure that any new recommended security measures are reasonable.
The first meeting of the working group will be May 21. AOPA plans to discuss the successes of Airport Watch and how it should be incorporated into federal recommendations.