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Strong advocate of AOPA's Airport Watch to leave Homeland SecurityStrong advocate of AOPA's Airport Watch to leave Homeland Security

Strong advocate of AOPA's Airport Watch to leave Homeland Security
DHS second-in-command resigns

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AOPA President Phil Boyer and
Admiral James Loy in 2002

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the resignation of Adm. James Loy Monday afternoon. Loy, the second-in-command at DHS, has been a strong advocate for balancing the needs of general aviation with the demands of security. Among the programs he vigorously promoted is AOPA's Airport Watch, which he cited as a model for partnership between industry and government.

"Adm. Loy clearly understands that security has to be tempered with practicality," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "He allowed AOPA open access to him, which greatly aided pilots on important GA matters. The only time we personally crossed swords was when I didn't call him on a TSA rulemaking but instead enlisted the help of Congress. Loy was offended by my misreading his intense desire to hear from me directly rather than have his staff deal with the issue. What a refreshing change as we discussed this by phone. Never before in my experience with federal agencies had a leader wanted this much feedback.

"The departures of Secretary Tom Ridge and Deputy Secretary Loy will leave a large void at the Department of Homeland Security. We hope the administration will nominate people of equal understanding and capacity to replace them," Boyer said.

That was also the concern voiced by the chairman of the House Select Homeland Security Committee, Christopher Cox (R-Calif.). In a prepared statement, Cox said that Loy's departure was "doubly painful" because it came so close to Ridge's resignation announced last month. "The loss of two key leaders in rapid succession has to be worrisome, and replacements of their caliber will be hard to find," Cox said.

Both Ridge and Loy will serve until March 1, or until successors are confirmed, to assist DHS and its new leadership during the transition period.

With Loy, AOPA found an open door and an advocate. From his previous service as the U.S. Coast Guard commandant, he understood how private or recreational operators fit into the national transportation system, and he was a strong proponent of government partnership with citizens, both on the water and in the air.

He was an early and strong advocate for AOPA's Airport Watch program. When AOPA President Boyer first presented the idea to him, he readily agreed to the government funding and operating the toll-free security hotline (866/GA-SECUR). Loy praised Airport Watch at a Washington, D.C., press conference announcing the program to the national media.

Loy stood up for general aviation on numerous occasions, including during congressional testimony in which he said some security officials had overstated the possible threat of GA to national security.

He also worked with AOPA and FAA to reassess "permanent" temporary flight restrictions over defense installations. Most of those TFRs were ultimately changed to less restrictive national security areas.

"We wish Adm. Loy well, and we're sorry to lose someone with whom we've established such a good working relationship and who understands the needs and concerns of general aviation pilots," said Boyer. "We will strive to build the same kind of cooperation with Adm. Loy's and Secretary Ridge's successors."

December 20, 2004

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