In a surprise move July 21, the New York Assembly and Senate passed and sent to Gov. George Pataki a massive anti-terrorism bill. (The bill had seemed to die last month due to lack of general support in the legislature.) The law covers everything from criminal possession of chemical or biological weapons to money laundering. And buried within its 15,800 words is a small section covering general aviation.
"AOPA worked closely with the bill sponsor and the governor's office, and we were able to tone down the more Draconian provisions being considered to get a bill that pretty much meets the guidelines we have suggested that all general aviation airports follow," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of Government and Technical Affairs. "However, the section requiring double locks on aircraft is excessive, but we will work with the New York Department of Transportation to ensure that the actual implementation does not adversely affect pilots."
The bill would require airports to register with the state and supply contact information and a security plan. That security plan should be consistent with (and in fact, no more stringent than) TSA's "Guidelines for General Aviation Airports," which AOPA helped develop and recommends as reasonable, scaled procedures appropriate for the different categories of GA airports.
The New York law requires the posting of warning signs, like AOPA's Airport Watch signs. It also requires hangars to be locked when not in use. Aircraft passengers at public-use airports should be identified. Flight schools and aircraft rental operators should control access to aircraft keys, and renter pilots would have to show a government-issued ID to get an aircraft key. Airport operators are to log transient aircraft.
Aircraft owners are to double-lock their aircraft with both an internal and external lock.
"We will continue to work with the governor's office and state officials on the implementation of this requirement," said Cebula. "It must be done in a reasonable manner.
"Bottom-line, 98 percent of the aviation parts of this bill are 'best practices' that the industry has been recommending all along," said Cebula. "We'll continue our advocacy to adjust the remaining two percent."
July 22, 2004