AOPA's Airport Watch program is the backbone of new general aviation security guidelines presented to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Monday. The guidelines are the work of a special committee, made up of AOPA and representatives from virtually every facet of the aviation industry. Most of the recommendations reflect positions AOPA has held since the September 11 terrorist attacks.
"General aviation was not used in the September 11 attacks and in fact has never been shown to be a terrorist threat," said, AOPA Senior Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula. "In fact, the head of the TSA recently told Congress that the threat from GA had been overstated.
"But because GA continues to receive undue attention from security officials, we felt it was vital that our members be represented on the panel.
"The most basic premise of the guidelines is that one size does not fit all," he continued. "Local airport officials and pilot communities have the best perspective on the security needs at their airports."
The guidelines drawn up by the GA Airports Security Working Group of the Aviation Security Advisory Committee are designed to be useful to everything from a back-country airstrip to a bustling GA reliever like Teterboro in New Jersey or Montgomery Field in San Diego. At the heart of the guidelines is AOPA's Airport Watch.
"Establish an Airport Watch Program," the report says. "Utilize the AOPA Airport Watch Program and/or develop a similar watch program."
The report submitted on Monday notes that the government has already implemented a number of security measures originally proposed by industry, including:
The government has also issued restrictions for foreign pilots and foreign pilot training and, working with charter and business aircraft operators, developed security programs for those types of operations.
On its own, industry has taken a number of steps to enhance security, including:
Including AOPA, the GA Working Group was made up of 10 GA associations, representatives from several individual airports, the FAA, and the TSA. The Aviation Security Advisory Committee, of which the working group was part, includes representatives from GA, the airlines, and the defense and intelligence communities.