Members of the Kansas congressional delegation have appealed to the new Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, to reconsider the proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP).
General aviation is “vital to the economic stability of Kansas and our nation,” wrote Sens. Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts and Rep. Todd Tiahrt in a Jan. 23 letter. The lawmakers explained that major GA manufacturers Cessna Aircraft Company and Hawker Beechcraft, both located in Wichita, have been impacted by the economic crisis and recently cut jobs because of a decline in aircraft orders.
The requirements in the current LASP proposal, combined with an economic crisis, could dramatically hurt businesses that rely on GA. Eighty-five percent of business aviation comprises operations for small and mid-sized businesses in rural areas, the letter explained.
“We are concerned that adoption of many of the proposed measures by TSA would create significant operational burdens to many of America’s businesses that rely on general aviation aircraft to do business across the state, country, or world,” the joint letter said. “Without changes to the [notice of proposed rulemaking], the TSA proposal could make it nearly impossible for some aircraft to operate at all.”
The officials explained that the GA industry understands the importance of securing the United States.
“It is in their best interests to provide safe and secure transportation services for their customers in cooperation with federal regulators. But in doing so, the federal government must recognize the inherent differences between security procedures designed for commercial aircraft and those necessary for general aircraft.
“Therefore, we request that TSA work closely with the general aviation industry as you craft security policies and procedures that affect these users,” the lawmakers concluded.
The proposed LASP applies to aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds and would require criminal history record checks for crew members, matching passengers to TSA watch and no-fly lists, checking passengers and baggage for dangerous weapons or prohibited items, and paying for biennial third-party audits.
“Decision makers in congress are starting to realize the negative impact this proposal could have not only on general aviation, but on the businesses and communities that rely on it,” said AOPA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Lorraine Howerton. “Senators Brownback and Roberts and Representative Tiahrt have presented the facts concisely, and we are hopeful that others will follow their lead.”