AOPA has made a positive pitch on general aviation security to the National League of Cities (NLC). AOPA Senior Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula was invited to brief an NLC policy committee on Friday. He highlighted that GA is not a significant threat and that extraordinary security measures at GA airports are not needed. The NLC will be making airport security recommendations to some 18,000 cities, towns, and villages.
"The NLC's Transportation Infrastructure and Services Steering Committee is extremely important because they've chosen to focus on general aviation security this year," said Cebula. "From what I learned in the meeting, GA is not high on their security worry list.
"They're much more concerned about the federal government forcing unfunded security mandates on them. And with that, they can be an important ally in persuading Congress to keep some of the security agencies in check."
Cebula told the NLC committee that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) did NOT consider general aviation, in and of itself, to be a significant security threat.
Cebula's presentation detailed the steps taken to improve GA security, particularly AOPA's Airport Watch program. FAA (responding to AOPA petitions and suggestions) is issuing new, harder-to-counterfeit pilot certificates and requiring pilots to carry photo identification.
Rules have been toughened to make it harder for foreign nationals to obtain flight training in the U.S. without a security vetting.
While some of the committee members had questions about using GA aircraft to attack critical infrastructure, Cebula was able to explain that the small size and relatively slow speeds of the majority of GA aircraft make them unsuitable as weapons of destruction.
Cebula urged the NLC to circulate the Transportation Security Administration's " Guidelines for General Aviation Airports", which were developed by a coalition of general aviation groups (including AOPA). The guidelines provide common-sense steps for evaluating and improving airport security, while recognizing that "one size doesn't fit all."
He also said that the cities should work with their airport managers and local pilots to evaluate security and implement reasonable steps to minimize airport security vulnerabilities. And he reiterated that alert pilots on guard for suspicious activities were the best security measure for most general aviation airports. That's why it is important for airport managers to post the Airport Watch warning signs and enlist the help of based pilots.
June 15, 2004