The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is vehemently opposed to a new state requirement in Ohio that singles out aircraft owners to sign a declaration with their annual aircraft registration renewal that they are not involved in terrorist activity.
"Frankly, it is offensive to Ohio's pilot population to suggest that they are more suspect than people who own boats, trucks, or automobiles," wrote Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of regional affairs, in a letter to the state's department of public safety. "Ohio's aircraft owners and pilots are committed to do their part to support our nation's security."
Aircraft owners are the only license holders under the state's department of transportation required to do this. AOPA and aircraft owners are extremely displeased at this discrimination. The association, on behalf of its 13,600 member pilots in Ohio, has requested that the state remove this requirement.
AOPA pointed out to Ohio officials that it isn't the state's responsibility to check pilots for terrorist activity - the FAA and Transportation Security Administration already do that. The federal authorities routinely check the list of U.S. pilots against known terrorist lists, and all foreign flight students must undergo a background check before beginning training.
In addition, Pecoraro cited pilots' voluntary participation in Airport Watch ( www.aopa.org/airportwatch/), a program developed by AOPA in partnershiop with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Airport Watch uses the more than 650,000 pilots as eyes and ears for observing and reporting suspicious activity.
The nearly 410,000 members of AOPA make up the world's largest civil aviation association. AOPA is committed to striking a common-sense balance that fulfills national security needs while protecting aircraft owners and pilots from overly burdensome regulations.
January 16, 2007