Survey: AOPA’s Airport Watch works

 - May 26, 2010, 12:33 PM

Airports that adopted the voluntary security measures of AOPA’s Airport Watch program saw a steep decline in crime the year after the program’s launch, according to a survey of 122 Pennsylvania noncommercial airports conducted by an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide educator.

Of the respondent airports, those that adopted the recommended measures saw a decline in crime from 2002–the year before AOPA created the program–to 2004.
Those airports that did not adopt the procedures saw an increase in crime over the same period.

“The completed research shows that the [AOPA] Airport Watch program can be a useful tool in general aviation security in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and across the United States in the reduction of crime,” Daniel Benny, security discipline chair for Embry-Riddle, wrote in his study.

He added that the program is an important asset in addressing post-9/11 security concerns and allows the GA community to be proactive about aviation security.
“This proactive approach is a key factor in the avoidance of new security mandates from the Department of Homeland Security’s [DHS] Transportation Security Administration [TSA] that could be costly to general aviation airports,” he said.

According to the study, crimes against people at adopter airports declined from five in 2002 to zero in 2004. The same type of crime jumped from three to six at non-adopter airports. Crimes against property dropped from 30 to three at adopter airports; non-adopter airports saw an increase from 45 to 88. Crimes against aircraft dropped from 29 to two at adopter airports but increased from four to 13 at airports that did not adopt Airport Watch recommendations.

Benny chose airports with no commercial traffic in his home state of Pennsylvania to determine the effect of the Airport Watch program, which encourages members of airport communities to “Lock up, look out” to help protect their airports. The program includes warning signs for airports, informational literature and a training video to teach pilots and airport employees how to enhance security at their airports.

Benny told AOPA that most of the changes implemented at adopter airports were simple and relatively inexpensive, such as providing security awareness training, posting signs encouraging people to report suspicious behavior, or making simple physical security improvements such as locks and additional lighting. He said his sample of Pennsylvania airports might indicate how the Airport Watch program is working nationwide.

DHS Closes Window on Passenger List Checks

The DHS last month changed its no-fly list update policies and began requiring aircraft operators to check no-fly lists within a two-hour time frame. The change is a result of the Times Square bomb plot.

As of May 5, the TSA requires aircraft operators to check the no-fly list within two hours of being electronically notified of additions or changes. Previously, aircraft operators were required to recheck the list within 24 hours.

Following a request from the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), the TSA released a special procedure for operators covered under the agency’s Twelve-Five Standard Security Program (TFSSP) and other similar programs to comply with a Security Directive (SD) published early last month.

When originally published, the SD caused great concern amongst smaller carriers, NATA said. The alternative means of compliance provides covered operators with a method of compliance that better reflects the operations of smaller air carriers.

Operators with the TFSSP are urged to visit the program’s Web board and review the new guidance. Those operators not covered by a TSA security program are not affected by the SD or the new guidance.