The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) should consider a recent report finding that general aviation poses only a limited security threat before imposing burdensome regulations on the industry, the Alaska congressional delegation said June 23.
A report on GA security released by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General concludes that the security threat posed by GA is “limited and mostly hypothetical” and finds no serious vulnerability requiring increased regulatory oversight. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich and Rep. Don Young of Alaska said the report validates their contention that the negative consequences of the TSA’s proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) could outweigh the potential threat.
“This report further substantiates my concern that the TSA’s new regulations needlessly threaten our vital aviation industry,” Murkowski said. “I hope that the TSA will keep these findings in mind when developing security rules for general aviation.”
“General aviation is essential to transportation in our state,” Begich added. “We are not opposed to security improvements; however, any new regulations should not be overly burdensome to Alaska’s general aviation community.”
The proposed LASP would impose commercial air carrier security procedures on aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds, regardless of how they are used. It would require crewmember criminal record checks, watch list matching of passenger manifests, biennial third party audits of each aircraft operator, and new airport security measures. For a state that relies on GA for access to so many rural communities, the new requirements could be especially costly; Alaska estimated compliance could cost $400,000 per community.
“Across the board regulations are not the answer here,” Young said. “What works in states in the Lower 48 will not work in Alaska where general aviation is essential to the survival of some smaller communities. I hope that TSA will closely examine this before making further determinations.”
The Alaska delegation, along with state lawmakers, spoke out against the proposed rules in February. The TSA has said it will issue a second notice of proposed rulemaking and consider more public comment before issuing a final rule.