Alaska Representative Don Young, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, yesterday sent a strong letter to Transportation Security Administration chief Adm. James M. Loy about the "pilot insecurity" rules.
"I am still very concerned that the rights of pilots may be adversely affected if the rule is implemented as currently written," said Rep. Young, warning that if the rules weren't changed, "I will have no alternative but to explore a legislative solution to this problem."
AOPA President Phil Boyer had brought the issue to Young's attention as part of AOPA's lobbying campaign against the rules. The "pilot insecurity" rules permit TSA to declare a pilot a security risk based on secret information and force the FAA to revoke the pilot's certificate. The only appeal is to TSA.
In his letter to TSA, Young called that "unfair and probably unconstitutional."
Young noted the rules were issued without notice or public comment 16 months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He questioned that timing, telling Adm. Loy, "If there is new intelligence that indicates that pilots are a greater threat, I would like to hear about that from you."
Acknowledging that some of the 9/11 hijackers had taken flight training, Young reminded TSA that they had boarded the planes as passengers, not pilots. "It was the failure of our intelligence, immigration, and perhaps airport security systems that allowed them to board those planes and commit terrorist acts. This does not justify taking away the rights of U.S. citizen pilots more than 16 months after the fact."
Young confirmed AOPA's position that the TSA rules went beyond the intent of Congress. "The security legislation that was subsequently approved by the aviation subcommittee (Title III of H.R.5506) did not give TSA this authority [to revoke pilot certificates]. Additionally, such authority is not encompassed by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act," Young said.
Young urged TSA to reconsider the rule and to provide a reasonable right to appeal.
[See also AOPA's regulatory brief and the final rules: Ineligibility for an Airman Certificate Based on Security Grounds ( text | PDF); Threat Assessments Regarding Alien Holders of, and Applicants for, FAA Certificates ( text | PDF); and Threat Assessments Regarding Citizens of the United States Who Hold or Apply for FAA Certificates ( text | PDF).]