NPRM would extend TSA program

 - July 30, 2008, 6:37 AM

The Transportation Security Administration’s previously announced plans to require all operators of aircraft with an mtow of more than 12,500 pounds to adhere to the TSA’s large aircraft security program is back at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review.

This is the same category of aircraft that currently must comply with the Twelve-Five Standard Security Program if used in air charter operations. The new rules will apply to privately operated aircraft and could affect some airports.

This is the proposal’s second trip to the OMB. Late last year the agency delivered its proposed regulations to the OMB for final review and approval before publication of the proposal. But the proposed rule met some resistance, and in January the TSA withdrew it for further revision. It has now been resubmitted for review.

The TSA is issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that will identify the new regulations and give affected operators the opportunity to submit comments before the rules are finalized. Generally, the OMB review is the final step before an NPRM is published, and that can take up to 90 days.

The National Air Transportation Association said it will review the proposals as soon as they are available to the public and provide analysis to its membership.

Meanwhile, Congress is considering two bills calling for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study using the Civil Air Patrol to support homeland security missions (H.R.1333) and using “interoperable biometric identifier systems” for personnel with access to “sterile” areas at airline airports (H.R.5982).

Biometric IDs include photos, fingerprints and retinal scans. The issue could affect general aviation pilots based at some larger airports because they are required to have an identification card similar to the ID cards issued to airport workers.

Congress is also directing the GAO to determine what capabilities the Civil Air Patrol can offer in support of homeland security missions, including border reconnaissance, aerial damage assessment following disasters, evacuation assistance, search-and-rescue and transport of critical materials.

Industry Input
Craig Spence, AOPA’s new v-p of aviation security, said that the association will continue to work with the Department of Homeland Security–of which TSA is a part– to ensure that any new security actions are “reasonable and appropriate to the actual level of risk.”

Before joining AOPA, he was the program manager for Geospatial and Aerospace Systems in the DHS’s Office of Operations Coordination. In that capacity, he served as the expert on all matters pertaining to aviation and geospatial systems, liaison with numerous government and civilian aerospace and geospatial agencies and stakeholders and was the DHS representative for various aviation working groups.
Spence has served as the briefer for Assistant Secretary for Transportation Security Kip Hawley and before joining the TSA he was the security coordinator for a major airline hub airport.

“AOPA has long recognized and addressed the challenges facing general aviation in the post-9/11 atmosphere,” said Andy Cebula, executive v-p of government affairs. “Bringing Craig on board means that we have someone who understands both the needs of our members and the ways of the security agencies.”