TSA studies GA airport security

 - August 3, 2010, 7:01 AM

A survey mandated by Congress could lead to a grant program for security enhancements at general aviation airports. But AOPA cautioned the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that the results of the survey should be used for the allocation of funding, not the imposition of requirements.

The 9/11 Commission Recommendation Act of 2007 required the TSA to develop and implement a standardized threat and vulnerability assessment program for approximately 3,000 GA airports that have a runway of at least 2,000 feet and those near major metropolitan areas, high-value targets or close to permanent prohibited areas such as the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md.

Survey Results In
The TSA met with GA associations in late June to discuss the preliminary results of the Airport Vulnerability Assessment Survey that it distributed in January. The survey is the first step in obtaining data for the agency to determine how to develop a dedicated security grant program for GA airports. Currently, the only federal grants for GA airports are administered by the FAA and are typically provided for safety enhancement, not security.

The TSA used the survey to gain a baseline understanding of what security measures GA airport officials would like to see implemented at their airports. Of the approximately 1,200 respondents, the top enhancement preferred was perimeter fencing, followed by closed-circuit television and improved lighting, the agency revealed.

Before the TSA establishes a grant program to fund security improvements at airports that request them, the agency plans to conduct site visits to certain airports to validate the data from the survey, and then begin to establish criteria and a mechanism for providing grants and financial aid. Any grant program must then be approved by Congress in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill.