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AOPA testimony before the Maryland House Environmental Matters CommitteeAOPA testimony before the Maryland House Environmental Matters Committee

Statement of Keith Holt

Manager, State Affairs

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

before the


The Honorable Maggie McIntosh, Chair


MD HB 1041 - Task Force to Study General Aviation Issues in Maryland

March 17, 2004

Good afternoon, I am Keith Holt, Manager of State Affairs for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). AOPA is the world's largest civil aviation organization, representing over 400,000 members nationwide, 7,400 of whom reside in Maryland.

From our Frederick, Maryland, headquarters, where we employ nearly 160 employees, AOPA coordinates representation of our members at the federal, state and local levels on a number of issues affecting general aviation. In addition, we publish two major magazines and oversee a multitude of member products and services from our Maryland headquarters.

Many of the initiatives for the general aviation task force proposed to be formed under House Bill 1041 are either local issues, or in regards to security, issues under the jurisdiction of federal authorities. We ask for your no vote on House Bill 1041.

AOPA has published several materials that address general aviation airport noise concerns, including producing a pilot-oriented Flying Friendly video and information regarding compatible land-use planning. In addition, the FAA has published information on land-use compatibility and environmental concerns.

With over 5,500 public-use airports nationwide, every airport is unique. Studying land use, safety and environmental issues is generally a local issue. Some states, such as California, have adopted guidelines for local communities to follow in order to help ensure compatible land use and smart growth initiatives around airports. However, by in large, local municipalities are given flexibility to address these concerns in the best interest of their local citizens.

The federal government oversees aviation to ensure safety, efficiency, and security of both the aviation system and the nation as a whole by regulating the operations of aircraft, airports, and airspace.

Since the tragic events of 9/11, the federal government has taken numerous actions related to aviation security. New security measures include extensive background checks on pilots by the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, new restrictions were put in place on foreign pilots and non-U.S. citizens seeking flight training (see attachment for complete list of federal aviation industry actions on general aviation security).

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is presently engaged in developing information on general aviation airport security. TSA asked the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) to establish a working group to provide recommended security procedures for general aviation airports. The working group consisted of aviation association, airport managers, TSA officials, and state aviation officials. Due to the location of the working group's meeting in Washington D.C., a representative from the Maryland Aviation Association participated in several of these working group sessions.

In November of 2003, the Committee approved the report of the General Aviation Airport Working Group on general aviation airport security measures. That report has been delivered to TSA and is presently being prepared for dissemination as an information publication.

Included in the working group's report provided to TSA, and information that will likely be included in the final information publication released by TSA, are flight school security guidelines. This information was modeled from information previously released by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

AOPA has remained proactive on airport security measures. By partnering with the TSA, we developed a nationwide Airport Watch program that uses the more than 650,000 pilots as eyes and ears for observing and reporting suspicious activity. AOPA Airport Watch is supported by a centralized governmentally staffed, toll-free hotline (1-866-GA-SECURE) and system for reporting and acting on information provided by general aviation pilots. The Airport Watch program includes warning signs for airports, informational literature, and training videotape to educate pilots and airport employees as to how security of their airports and aircraft can be enhanced.

AOPA has nearly 65 years of experience in general aviation issues. AOPA has already been involved with or studied most of the issues that the task force would be asked to study. We are available to provide any information to this committee and to this legislature on general aviation issues.

We ask that you vote no on House Bill 1041.

AOPA's Airport Watch
AOPA's Airport Watch

General Aviation and Homeland Security

Government Actions. Since September 11, 2001, the federal government has taken numerous actions related to aviation security. While the terrorist attacks of September 11th were not orchestrated using general aviation aircraft, the federal government nevertheless has taken actions directed at or that encompass general aviation operators. These federal actions include the following:


  • Advanced Screening of Pilot Databases. Regulations adopted by the FAA and the TSA on January 24, 2003, permit the immediate suspension, revocation, or refusal to issue an airmen certificate to anyone that the TSA has determined poses a threat to transportation security. This is based on TSA information as well as that provided by other security agencies.
  • New Airman Certificate. In July 2003, the Department of Transportation announced it would begin issuing a new, security-enhanced airman certificate. The new, difficult-to-counterfeit certificates will include a hologram and graphics printed on a plastic card and replace a paper-based document.
  • Requirement to Carry Photo ID. An FAA requirement, adopted in October 2002, requires a pilot to carry government-issued photo identification along with the pilot certificate when operating an aircraft.
  • Restrictions for Foreign Pilots. There are current federal restrictions on flight training of foreign nationals, including a requirement for background checks for individuals seeking to receive a U.S. pilot certificate on the basis of a foreign pilot certificate. This requirement was put in place in July 2002.
  • Background Checks for Certain Flight Training. A federal requirement mandates that the Transportation Security Administration conduct a comprehensive background check for all non-U.S. citizens seeking flight training.

Commercial Operators/Businesses

  • Charter Flight Security Program. The "Twelve-Five" and "Private Charter" rules, which establish new security requirements for non-scheduled commercial operators (charters) that are equivalent to those imposed upon scheduled airlines, became effective April 1, 2003. The "Twelve-Five" rule requires that certain aircraft operators using aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight (MTOW) of 12,500 pounds or more implement a specific security program. The "Private Charter" rule adds additional requirements for aircraft operators using aircraft with a MTOW of greater than 45,500 kg (100,309.3 pounds) or that carry 61 or more passengers. Charter flight operations are commonly considered to be part of GA, although much more stringent operational and certification requirements are imposed on them than is the case for non-commercial flights.
  • Flight School Security. In January 2002, the FAA issued a number of recommended actions addressing security for flight schools and those renting aircraft. These recommendations are designed to provide security against the unauthorized use of a flight school or rental aircraft.
  • Flight School Security Awareness Training. Also included in the Conference Report accompanying the FAA reauthorization legislation (H.R. 2115) is a requirement that employees be trained in "suspicious circumstances and activities of individuals enrolling or attending" a flight school.


  • Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC). Formed in 1989 to examine civil aviation security and to ensure a high degree of safety for the traveling public, ASAC encompasses members from the airlines, air cargo industries, aviation organizations, Secret Service, FBI, law enforcement, and federal aviation officials. In November 2003, the committee approved a report of the General Aviation Airport Working Group that outlined a number of recommended general aviation airport security measures. That report has been delivered to TSA for dissemination as recommended procedures.
  • Washington D.C. ADIZ, FRZ, and Department of Defense Airspace Restrictions. Since September 11, the FAA and government officials have imposed airspace restrictions at various locations throughout the United States to restrict aircraft operations in certain areas when intelligence officials report heightened security sensitivity. This includes the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) around Washington, D.C., the associated Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ), and restrictions that are put into effect when the President travels outside of Washington D.C. These airspace restrictions are patrolled and enforced by U.S. Customs and U.S. military aircraft.
  • Hotline to Report Suspicious Activity. In December 2002, TSA implemented a hotline (1-866-GA-SECURE), which is operated 24/7 by the National Response Center and managed by the U.S. Coast Guard that allows anyone to report suspicious activity to a central command structure.
  • Ronald Reagan National Airport. Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) remains closed to all general aviation operations except those few specifically permitted by waiver.
  • Special Flight Rules Area within 15 miles of Washington, D.C. Special Federal Aviation Regulation 94 ("SFAR 94"), implemented on February 19, 2002, prohibits general aviation operations within this 15-mile area unless authorized by TSA. This limits access at Potomac Airpark, Hyde Field, and College Park Airport (referred to as the "DC-3") to only cleared and vetted pilots operating in compliance with specific flight planning and ATC procedures.
  • Limits on Flights Over Stadiums. A preexisting notice to airman ("notam") was updated on March 6, 2003, due to enactment of P.L. 108-7 that limits aircraft operations in the airspace over major sporting events. Commercial operators with a need to fly within 3 nautical miles and below 3,000 feet of an event stadium must apply for a waiver through TSA and must complete a pilot vetting process to obtain that waiver. Banner-towing operations are prevented from flying over major sporting events (college football, professional baseball, football, NASCAR, and other specifically identified events). Other restrictions may be applied on a case-by-case basis when appropriate; i.e., the '02 Winter Olympics.
  • No Flights Over Nuclear Facilities. On February 26, 2003, a preexisting notam advising pilots not to circle or loiter over nuclear facilities was strengthened to reinforce the need for pilots to avoid these facilities altogether.

Industry Actions. Individual general aviation organizations have taken proactive steps to increase security and security awareness. Aviation, while big in economic impact and number of operations, is relatively small when compared to other forms of transportation such as surface transportation. As such, general aviation operators are keenly aware and willing to individually enhance the security of their operation without the need of government regulation. Given the ease and frequency of intrastate movement, combined with the wide variety of operations, measures taken by individual operators are more comprehensive than regulation at the state or federal level.

  • Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) developed a nationwide aviation watch system (Airport Watch) using the nation's 650,000 pilots that is supported by the TSA centralized toll-free hotline and system for reporting and acting on information provided by general aviation pilots and other individuals at airports. The Airport Watch Program includes warning signs for airports, informational literature, and training videotape to educate pilots and airport employees as to how security of their airports and aircraft can be enhanced.
  • Airports and Airport Tenants. Many airports and individual airport tenants have already implemented security enhancements in addition to the aforementioned Airport Watch Program. Such initiatives have included but are not limited to installing alarm systems, controlling access, and monitoring and improving gates, fencing, and lighting. Some airports are also experimenting with new technologies in security monitoring, surveillance, and access control technologies, including WiFi and sophisticated target acquisition software programs.
  • American Association of Airport Executives. The American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) "General Aviation Airport Security Task Force" delivered a set of recommendations to the TSA in June 2002. The eight recommendations made by AAAE were developed by establishing categories of airports based on runway length and number of based aircraft. Recommendations also included securing aircraft, establishing a threat communication system, developing a new pilot license, securing aircraft, and expanding the FAA contract tower program.
  • Experimental Aircraft Association. The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) mobilized its network of nearly 1,000 chapters nationwide to improve security at many of the nation's airports through increased knowledge and vigilance. To support this effort, Airport Watch videotapes and other educational materials concerning security practices and airspace restrictions were distributed nationwide.
  • General Aviation Coalition. In December 2001, the GAC issued a series of 12 recommendations for general aviation security. The government and the general aviation community have implemented many of these. In addition, the TSA conducts regular meetings with the GAC to address general aviation security issues.
  • General Aviation Manufacturers Association. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), in conjunction with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is working to help aircraft sellers identify unusual financial transactions that could indicate attempts to launder money via the purchase of aircraft, or otherwise suspicious customer behavior. The publication, titled Guidelines for Establishing Anti-Money Laundering Procedures and Practices Related to the Purchase of General Aviation Aircraft was developed in consultation with manufacturers, aviation-finance companies, used aircraft brokers, and fractional ownership companies.
  • National Agricultural Aircraft Association. The National Agricultural Aircraft Association (NAAA) has produced an educational program called the Professional Aerial Applicators Support System (PAASS) that includes a new educational portion every year, specifically addressing security at aerial application operations. The PAASS program reaches roughly 2,000 people involved in aerial application every year. It is presented at state and regional agricultural aviation association meetings throughout the country. In addition, NAAA members have undergone several industry-wide FBI background investigations since 9/11/01.
  • National Air Transportation Association. On September 24, 2001, the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) issued a series of recommended security procedures for all aviation businesses through its Business Aviation Security Task Force. The recommendations focused on immediate steps that should be taken, plus longer term actions. Examples included signage, appointing a single manager responsible for security at all locations, developing a "security mission statement," methods to verify identification, seeking local law enforcement assistance to develop a security plan, and a host of others, including an advisory poster that was created and distributed free to all NATA members.
  • National Association of Flight Instructors. The National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), an affiliate of EAA, has developed a series of security recommendations and best practices for flight schools and flight instructors that have been distributed widely throughout the flight training community. Currently, NAFI is working in cooperation with the TSA to develop training materials and distribution methods in support of the proposed flight school security awareness training requirements contained in the pending Conference Report accompanying the FAA reauthorization legislation (H.R. 2115).
  • National Association of State Aviation Officials. In December 2002, the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) submitted to federal and state authorities a document outlining general aviation security recommendations. This included securing unattended aircraft, developing a security plan, and establishing a means to report suspicious activity. In addition, airports should establish a public awareness campaign; perform regular inspection of airport property and control movement of persons and vehicles in the aircraft operating area. The state aviation officials suggested federal authorities implement a new pilot ID, establish a means to verify the identity of persons requesting flight lessons with a government watch list, implement a process for categorizing airports, and ensure adequate federal funding for airport security needs.
  • National Business Aviation Association. TSA launched a pilot project in cooperation with the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) at Teterboro Airport (KTEB) in New Jersey. This has been expanded by the TSA to include Part 91 operators based at Morristown, New Jersey (KMMU), and White Plains, New York (KHPN). This initiative is proceeding as a "proof-of-concept" validating an NBAA-proposed security protocol for Part 91 operators who can apply for a TSA Access Certificate (TSAAC). Once issued, the TSAAC allows operators to operate internationally without the need for a waiver. TSA is also considering granting access for TSAAC holders to designated TFRs.
  • United States Parachute Association. USPA disseminated detailed security recommendations to its 219 skydiving clubs and centers across the United States, most of them based on general aviation airports. Skydive operators and their customers are often on airports during days and hours when others are not and can enhance any airport watch program. Other recommendations were aimed at ensuring security of jump aircraft during operations as well as periods when aircraft are idle.

January 2004

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
421 Aviation Way
Frederick, MD 21701

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