General aviation airplanes are not so-called weapons of mass effect. AOPA has been saying that to every possible government agency and legislative body. We just added another agency to the list.
AOPA was invited to address the Homeland Security Advisory Council Weapons of Mass Effect Prevention Task Force last week. The group is tasked with designing defenses to prevent large-scale weapons (such as large bombs or nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons) from entering the United States, and it advises Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and ultimately the president.
AOPA educated the task force on general aviation, using facts, figures, and graphics from the association's GA Serving America Web site.
"I explained again that most general aviation aircraft don't have the size or carrying capacity to make an effective weapon," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of government and technical affairs. "And I reiterated all of the steps we've taken since 9/11 to improve security of our aircraft and airports."
Cebula reviewed airspace restrictions, flight training and pilot identification requirements, checks of pilot certificate records against terrorist watch lists, and the Transportation Security Administration security guidelines for GA airports as a few of the security enhancements now in place - many at the instigation of the aviation community.
"The task force members seemed to be particularly impressed with AOPA's Airport Watch as an effective way of engaging the pilot community to enhance security," said Cebula. "And that reinforced the concept that voluntary programs are the quickest and most effective way to address security issues."
August 10, 2005