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TSA proposal needs more time for public airingTSA proposal needs more time for public airing

AOPA, the National Business Aviation Association, and Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) have officially requested that the Transportation Security Administration extend the comment period on its Large Aircraft Security Program proposal by 60 days. A 60-day extension would keep the comment period open until Feb. 27, 2009.

“This proposal represents a significant regulatory change in the conduct of private aircraft operations,” wrote AOPA and NBAA. “We believe that the 60-day comment period is insufficient in order to provide TSA with answers to the substantial number of questions posed in the proposal and to provide sufficient time for community education and feedback.”

Graves echoed the associations’ recommendation that the TSA reach out to general aviation operators by hosting public meetings and taking comments on the impact this security proposal would have on the industry.

In a letter, Graves explained that while he supports the TSA’s efforts to improve aviation security, special attention should be given to the proposal because it would be the first time the agency’s regulatory reach would extend to general aviation aircraft, including warbirds and vintage aircraft, pilots, and passengers who fly for personal use.

He specifically asked the TSA to explain its rationale for setting the weight limit of aircraft affected by the proposal at 12,500 pounds and for requiring a third-party auditor to check operators’ security.

Regarding the many privacy concerns that pilots have cited, Graves asked the TSA to explain what kind of appeals process would be in place for those falsely identified on a terrorist watch list.

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