AOPA members have expressed concern about reports that Transportation Security Administration officials stopped and screened general aviation pilots and their passengers at a fixed-base operation in Nashville, Tenn., before they could access their airplanes.
That incident, combined with recent changes to security badge requirements at commercial airports and the TSA’s proposed Large Aircraft Security Program, has left many pilots wondering if this is an all-out assault on GA by the TSA. AOPA has been working quietly behind the scenes with the TSA to get to the bottom of what’s happening.
As it turns out, the screening episode stemmed from a TSA “playbook”—a restricted document designed to assist federal security directors in adding randomness and unpredictability to their security procedures. The problem resulted when the security directors incorrectly applied the procedures, which were intended for commercial operations, to the GA side of the airport. The TSA is in the process of correcting the guidance that was distributed to federal security directors throughout the country.
“It is important that pilots let us know when they see these types of occurrences because we can take their concerns directly to the TSA,” said Craig Spence, AOPA vice president of security. “In this case, TSA officials had not intended for their policy to be interpreted this way, and when we told them about it, they quickly corrected the problem.”
Pilots can alert AOPA by calling 800/USA-AOPA or sending an e-mail.