AOPA this week told the state of New Jersey it should wait to write its "two-lock" rule into the Administrative Code. The two-lock rule requires airports to ensure that any aircraft parked at a New Jersey airport for 24 hours or more be secured by at least two locking devices. Those devices could be a door lock and keyed magneto/ignition switch or throttle lock.
New Jersey's attorney general, Peter Harvey, imposed the two-lock rule in late March with no advance notice. AOPA objected to the announcement, and AOPA President Phil Boyer traveled to Trenton to meet with leaders from the transportation and attorney general's offices and voice member concerns. That resulted in some changes issued by Aviation Director Tom Thatcher in the application of the initial rule. Now to make the rule permanent, it has to be re-adopted as part of the state's Administrative Code.
In a recent survey, an overwhelming 87 percent of AOPA members said they oppose mandated security equipage. And nationwide more than half of the members surveyed said they already take voluntary security precautions that would meet or exceed the two-lock rule.
In written comments, AOPA said, "It is important that state security requirements do not undermine the national transportation system. We strongly recommend that the state of New Jersey delay adoption of these requirements until such time as they can be re-evaluated following the release of [recommendations by the Transportation Security Administration's Aviation Security Advisory Committee task force]." That report is expected later this summer.
"Writing the rule into the state's Administrative Code would make it a condition of an airport's license to operate," said Andy Cebula, AOPA's senior vice president of government and technical affairs. "Failure to enforce the rule could cause an airport to have its license revoked or not renewed, effectively closing the airport. And if the state forces the closure of an airport with federal grant obligations, that could set up a legal showdown between the state and the FAA."
AOPA's comments come as New Jersey's Division of Aviation has begun an audit of 15 airports to check their compliance. Initial results showed near-total compliance. The majority of aircraft that did not meet the rule were light, fabric-covered aircraft.
"We have a National Airspace System, not a New Jersey airspace system and a Missouri airspace system and an Arizona airspace system," said Cebula. "The rules governing aviation must come from the federal government so that we don't end up with a patchwork of differing regulations."