Mar. 30, 2004 - Security rules for general aviation maintenance shops by the Transportation Security Administration would exceed the intent of Congress and should not be issued, AOPA said this week. The agency solicited comments in advance of publishing a proposed rule for repair shop security.
AOPA believes that such unnecessary regulatory action would increase costs for repair shops, which would in turn be passed on to aircraft owners, and would impose security regulations on general aviation when adequate safeguards already exist.
In formal comments, the association said that in the FAA Reauthorization Bill signed into law in December, Congress clearly limited the scope of the legislation to oversight of repair stations performing work on air carrier aircraft and components. "Therefore," AOPA Senior Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula wrote, " repair stations that work on general aviation aircraft at general aviation airports should not be covered by these regulatory actions."
In its comments, AOPA contends that the FAA and TSA already have an effective deterrent to terrorism under the same rule that allows TSA to direct the FAA to deny, suspend, or revoke a pilot's certificate if that pilot is deemed a national security risk. The same rule also permits the FAA to deny, suspend, or revoke a mechanic's or repairman's certificate, "effectively preventing a person that is deemed a security threat from performing work on any aircraft or component."
AOPA also pointed to industry efforts to improve security at general aviation airports and the businesses located there, such as AOPA's Airport Watch, and a 12-point security plan proposed by the General Aviation Coalition in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks and since then largely adopted by the FAA and TSA.
The association went on to say that repair stations that do work on Part 135 certificated on-demand charter aircraft also be exempted from the rule, "because this work occurs mainly at general aviation airports."
"Maintenance has not been a security issue for general aviation," AOPA said, " and it is not appropriate for the TSA to include it in the new regulation without adequate justification."