Fallout from TSA’s NPRM extends far beyond corporate aviation

 - December 1, 2008, 10:51 AM

Many respondents expressed concern that the proposed rule would kill the popular airshow passenger flights in World War II-era B-17s, B-24s and other large warbirds. Other comments addressed charitable activities, such as those of the Corporate Angel Network, where checking no-fly lists might impose unacceptable delays in approving the carriage of a sick child. Even worse might be the plight of seriously injured people requiring immediate airlift in an EMS Learjet or King Air when every minute counts. Several respondents questioned whether the TSA has the Constitutional authority to impose security demands on purely private interstate travel by U.S. citizens.

Commenters wondered whether the proposed rule violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of assembly; the Fourth Amendment’s protection against searches without probable cause; and the Tenth Amendment’s limit on federal powers.

No comments mentioned non-pilot “crewmembers.” These could be engine, avionics or other technicians on test flights, or other specialists such as scientists on geophysical surveys, none of whom could be called passengers. Here, each would be subject to lengthy fingerprint and criminal history checks, even though they might fly only once, and often at short notice.

Many questioned the TSA’s estimates of the cost of the program. The director of aviation for the Kansas DOT described the agency’s airport security cost estimates as “preposterous” and its cost analysis as “laughable, at best,” while the owners of

an approved GA “reliever” field stated that the full costs would probably destroy their activity. The TSA will bear none of these costs, and even an operator’s request for a

No-Fly list check of a passenger will be charged by a private contractor appointed by the TSA to approve such requests. The NPRM invites comments about whether the contractor’s personnel should be U.S. citizens, raising the question of whether the agency has plans to outsource the no-fly list to an overseas call center.