The best way to keep general aviation airports secure is through non-regulatory approaches to security, such as AOPA's Airport Watch and the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA's) Airport Security Guidelines. That was the focus of the first Pennsylvania general aviation airport security task force meeting last week in Harrisburg during which AOPA staff members Rob Hackman and Owen Sweeney met with Pennsylvania legislators, the state's Department of Transportation, TSA representatives, and other security officials.
"The AOPA Airport Watch Program works," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of government and technical affairs. "GA airports are like small neighborhoods - pilots notice when something is suspicious and report it."
Officials heard how one airport in the state had followed the Airport Watch program and reported suspicious activity two different times on the national, toll-free GA security hotline (866/GA-SECUR[E]).
AOPA directed Sen. John Rafferty, who was concerned about unauthorized access to airplanes at GA airports, to the Airport Watch program.
AOPA Manager of Regional Affairs Owen Sweeney followed up with a letter to the senator, providing an overview of GA security and pointing out that the U.S. government has determined that GA is not a significant threat to the nation's security. AOPA explained that the GA industry has voluntarily taken steps to enhance security, that GA aircraft are not easily stolen, and that hijackers are not likely to gain access to GA aircraft.
August 25, 2005