The Transportation Security Administration Monday issued an alert to general aviation pilots and airports, warning of potential terrorist threats. "TSA wants to remind general aviation aircraft and airport operators to review the security measures contained in the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association's Airport Watch Program materials. These may be accessed at www.aopa.org/airportwatch/," advised the alert.
"Here's an example of what can go right when two sides sit down to find a common-sense solution," said AOPA Phil Boyer. "We developed Airport Watch in conjunction with TSA. This advisory shows that they still believe it's the best way to enhance security at GA airports."
The TSA advisory warned, "Based on a recent interagency review of available information, we remain concerned about Al-Qaeda's continued efforts to plan multiple attacks against the United States. These attacks may involve aviation. However, at this time, we have no specific information on individual targets or dates for potential attacks." It echoes a similar advisory issued last week by TSA's parent organization, the Homeland Security Department.
As both the TSA advisory and Airport Watch point out, pilots need to be alert for suspicious activities at their home airports. Look especially for aircraft with unusual or unauthorized modifications, anyone loitering near aircraft or flight operations areas, pilots or airport personnel who appear to be under stress or the control of someone else, or anyone whose identification appears to be altered or otherwise inconsistent.
Pilots who do have suspicions about activity at their airport should contact 911 if there appears to be imminent danger, or call the TSA-provided national toll-free hotline, 866/GA-SECURE (866/427-3287). It's answered at the National Response Center 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the Coast Guard personnel staffing the NRC can reach the appropriate local authorities.