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TSA to AOPA members: Be on the alert. We need your helpTSA to AOPA members: Be on the alert. We need your help

TSA to AOPA members: Be on the alert. We need your help

AOPA's Airport Watch

Late Friday afternoon the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued an advisory titled " Security Information for Flight Schools and Flight Training Providers." The advisory asks all AOPA members and others in the general aviation community to be alert for - and report any - suspicious activity.

"While the TSA made it clear this action is not the result of terrorist-related activity, the advisory was issued to reinforce awareness in the general aviation community," explained Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. The TSA specifically suggested that everyone involved in GA follow the recommendations from AOPA's Airport Watch program.

This advisory comes at a time when AOPA recently mailed its new Airport Watch materials to all pilots in the United States. The materials effectively address the need for all GA pilots to "Lock Up, and Look Out."

"It's critical," said Cebula, "that every pilot at every U.S. airport locks up their aircraft and looks out for suspicious activity."

As part of AOPA's Airport Watch program, the TSA provides a 24-hour GA Hotline 866/GA-Secure (866/427-3287) to report any suspicious activity.

While many of the steps do not pertain to the way most AOPA members fly, the TSA advisory provides important instruction that every pilot should be alert and aware of and report:

  • Persons masquerading as pilots, security personnel, emergence medical technicians, or other personnel using uniforms and/or vehicles as methods to gain access to aviation facilities or aircraft.
  • Aircraft with unusual or unauthorized modifications.
  • Persons loitering in the vicinity of aircraft or air operations areas as well as persons loading unusual or unauthorized payload onto aircraft.
  • Persons who appear to be under stress or the control of other persons.

Additionally, the TSA advisory references TSA's Security Guidelines for General Aviation Airports, which suggests, among other steps, all pilots do the following:

  • Ensure that door locks are consistently used to prevent unauthorized access or tampering with the aircraft.
  • Use keyed ignitions where appropriate.
  • Store the aircraft in a hangar, if available, and locking hangar doors.
  • Use an auxiliary lock to further protect aircraft from unauthorized use. Commercially available options for auxiliary locks include locks for propellers, throttle, and tiedowns.
  • Ensure that aircraft ignition keys are not stored inside the aircraft.

"These are difficult times," said Cebula. "But the fact is that terrorism has come to America, and we can't ignore it. It's every pilot's obligation to increase their vigilance in order to keep GA - and America - safe."

September 1, 2006

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