A senior U.S. senator has offered praise and funds for AOPA's Airport Watch program and its toll-free security hotline. Yesterday during a meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) successfully offered an amendment directing the Department of Homeland Security to continue funding the 866/GA-SECURE hotline to report suspicious activities at an airport.
Hollings, a hawk on security issues and a champion of general aviation, declared afterward, "Airport Watch is a common-sense and effective approach to securing our nation's general aviation airports. AOPA and TSA have got it right on this one."
Airport Watch is modeled on the popular neighborhood watch program and asks general aviation pilots and others on GA airports to watch for and report any possible criminal or terrorist activity.
AOPA partnered with the Transportation Security Administration (now part of the Homeland Security Department) to create Airport Watch. AOPA created the program and funded program materials such as brochures, airport signs, and training videos. TSA provided the toll-free hotline and helped distribute some of the program materials.
Sen. Hollings is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and is the ranking member on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the Senate committee that oversees the FAA. The bill will now be sent to the Senate floor for full consideration by that chamber.