March 29, 2004
Docket Management System
U.S. Department of Transportation
Room Plaza 401
400 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20590-0001
Re: Docket No. TSA-2004-17131; Aircraft Repair Station Security
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), representing over 400,000 members or two thirds of the nation's pilots, submits the following comments to the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) notice on Aircraft Repair Station Security published in the Federal Register on February 24, 2004.
In analyzing Vision 100 - Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act, the recent legislation directing the TSA to issue a new regulation concerning security at certified FAR Part 145 repair stations, it is clear that the scope of the legislation is limited to the oversight of repair stations performing work on air carrier aircraft and components. Therefore, repair stations that work on general aviation aircraft at general aviation airports should not be covered by these regulatory actions. Our evaluation of the legislation and experience with post 9-11 events clearly reveals no security threats from maintenance activities at general aviation airports. AOPA also recommends that the exemption from the rule include repair stations that work on FAR Part 135 on-demand charter aircraft because this work occurs mainly at general aviation airports. Maintenance has not been a security issue for general aviation, and it is not appropriate for the TSA to include it in the new regulation without adequate justification.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the TSA already have an effective security threat deterrent in place that reduces the opportunity for persons to carry out terrorist acts in the aviation environment. On January 24, 2003, the FAA issued the "Ineligibility for an Airman Certificate Based on Security Grounds; Final Rule" (Docket No. FAA-2003-14293). The security disqualification provision, now codified in Part 65 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, authorizes the FAA to suspend, deny, or revoke a mechanic or repairman certificate, effectively preventing a person that is deemed a security threat from performing work on any aircraft or component.
The aviation industry and the federal government have demonstrated they can work cooperatively to address security concerns. AOPA's Airport Watch, a joint program with the TSA, enlists the help of the nation's 650,000 general aviation pilots and others working at general aviation facilities, to watch for and report suspicious activities to the toll-free number 1-866-GA-SECURE. In addition, the Aviation Security Advisory Committee Working Group also developed the General Aviation Airport Security Guidelines that establish nonregulatory standards for general aviation airports. Many other recommendations have been made by the general aviation community on ways to improve security, including a 12-point plan developed by the General Aviation Coalition. The TSA also needs to consider its own Information Publication A-001 Recommended Security Guidelines for General Aviation Airports that is now being developed to address operations at general aviation airports, including maintenance.
As the TSA considers actions on repair station security, AOPA strongly recommends that facilities performing work on general aviation aircraft, including those operating under Part 135, be excluded from repair station security regulation.
Andrew V. Cebula
Senior Vice President
Government and Technical Affairs