According to industry sources, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued a security directive that extends requirements for background checks to be performed on general aviation pilots based at airports served by airlines.
Pilots who are based at air carrier airports and have not already had a background check and received an ID badge will have to do so next year in order to continue to have access to their airport. Based pilots who have already submitted to the checks will not be affected.
The directive does not change requirements for transient pilots. Transient pilots flying into air carrier airports will continue to be subject to the current escorting and monitoring requirements.
Currently, most airports do not require these checks because of a longstanding security policy that excludes general aviation operations when separated by time and distance from airline areas.
“Pilots have long operated without incident on these airports, and it is surprising that the TSA appears to have implemented such a significant new mandate with no notification or discussion,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. “It will have a significant impact on pilots and airports in many small communities across the country.”