General aviation interests are encouraged by the appointment of Michal Morgan as Transportation Security Administration (TSA) general manager for general aviation. She previously served as the manager of general aviation for the Office of Operations Policy and the director of special operations for the TSA.
In a letter to GA organizations, Morgan noted that many of the GA issues she dealt with in the past are relevant today. “I look forward to sitting down with you all in the coming weeks to discuss emerging issues facing general aviation and to develop cooperative solutions that support the needs of the community,” she wrote.
Morgan said that Rob Rottman, whom she replaces, is now working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and takes with him his knowledge of the GA industry and ability to serve as an advocate for the industry.
Bob Blouin, president of the Greater Washington Business Aviation Association, said, “Michal has been a good, no-nonsense member of the aviation security team at TSA for a long time and knows the business aviation community.”
General Aviation Security Changes
Meanwhile, the Senate has passed S.4, which implements unfinished recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. It includes what had been S.509, the Aviation Security Improvement Act.
The legislation directs the TSA to study the vulnerability of general aviation airports and requires the agency to examine the possibility of providing grants to GA airports to make upgrades to security measures.
It also mandates screening all cargo on passenger aircraft within three years. All cargo affected under this provision would have to be screened at a level comparable to that of the current screening requirements for checked baggage.
The committee report accompanying the bill provides congressional support to establish a program for ground service providers to be compensated directly for increased costs stemming from the new provision.
The legislation requires the TSA to develop within one year a standardized threat and vulnerability assessment program for general aviation airports. The agency is also directed to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of providing grants to general aviation airports for security upgrades.
In addition, the legislation would require the TSA to develop a program whereby foreign-registered general aviation aircraft, identified through a risk-based assessment, are required to submit passenger information
to the TSA for screening against terrorist watch lists.
The bill also would prevent the FAA from certifying any new foreign repair station if the TSA does not issue the mandated regulations for foreign repair station security within 90 days of the bill’s passage. S.4 removes the current cap of 45,000 TSA screeners previously set by Congress and would allow screeners to unionize, although there are some limitations during emergency situations.
The legislation will now go to a House-Senate conference to iron out differences between S.4 and H.R.1, which the House passed in early January. President Bush has threatened to veto the legislation if the final version includes language allowing TSA screeners to unionize.