General aviation was heartened somewhat last month when the federal government reopened the “DC-3” airports to limited “transient” traffic.
NBAA applauded a ruling from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that reopens the three Maryland airports–College Park Airport, Potomac Airfield and Washington Executive/Hyde Field. After 9/11 the facilities were closed to all aircraft traffic; they were reopened to based aircraft in February 2002.
The TSA’s rule, which took effect on February 13, requires enhanced security procedures for pilots of transient aircraft that are already in place for pilots based at the airports. The security measures include background checks, fingerprinting, criminal history checks, aircraft registrations and submission of flight plans.
“NBAA believes the TSA’s ruling represents a positive step in restoring access to the Washington region for general aviation aircraft operators,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “In lifting the restrictions at the airports, the TSA has recognized that security protections for general aviation must take economic considerations and personal liberties into account.”
Bolen said NBAA will continue working with the TSA to develop an even more manageable set of GA security requirements that apply to airports and airspace in Washington and across the country.
AOPA said the TSA action shows there are opportunities for improvements. The association acknowledged that progress is going to be slow. “The security agencies are uncomfortable with general aviation because they don’t know who’s in the airplane,” said AOPA senior v-p of government and technical affairs Andy Cebula. “AOPA will continue our education efforts to make sure they understand that GA is not a threat.”