GAMA to Congress: review security fiats

 - July 28, 2011, 5:40 AM

Jeppesen president and CEO Mark Van Tine in July questioned the Transportation Security Administration’s use of security directives to vastly expand existing security requirements without consideration of the implementation challenges, operational effects and economic burdens these mandates impose on the aviation industry.

“We recognize and respect the TSA’s authority to issue security directives; however, we do not believe that the TSA should use them to make standing policy unless there is a compelling and immediate national security risk that warrants them,” he told the House subcommittee on transportation security. “This is an issue of great concern to the general aviation community, and we urge Congress to implement procedures for the review of security directives that are not temporary in nature.”

Security Measures Require Action

Van Tine, who is chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) security committee, also urged the Obama Administration to move quickly to incorporate the industry’s input on the Large Aircraft Security Program (Lasp) and finalize this rulemaking because it will enhance security without creating negative consequences for pilots and operators.

Lasp was first published in 2008 and is the TSA’s first attempt at regulating private air travel. Since the introduction of Lasp, the TSA and industry have agreed upon a framework that will address legitimate security risks while ensuring the rights of citizens to fly their own airplanes.

“We have made good progress on Lasp and appreciate the strong support from members of Congress who have recognized our concerns and urged the TSA to develop a more practical and effective approach,” Van Tine testified.

He reminded lawmakers that the GA industry has worked diligently to increase security and awareness of potential threats to the aviation system. These efforts have led to the development and implementation of more than a dozen mandatory and voluntary security initiatives. These include enhanced pilot certificates, the Twelve-Five Standard Security Program and the “See Something, Say Something” program and its predecessor “Airport Watch.”

Van Tine also took the opportunity to encourage the completion of aircraft repair station security rulemaking. “GAMA has stressed the importance of a risk-based program for repair stations and underscored the effect inaction has upon exports of U.S. products and expansion into new markets,” he said. “This is especially important since the majority of airplane and equipment sales are to foreign customers.”

According to the Jeppesen executive, “It is imperative for the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] to move forward and complete this rulemaking.”

TSA Autonomy

In another security development, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the TSA needs more independence from the DHS to operate more efficiently.

In an interview with Bloomberg, he said it takes the TSA too long to make changes because too many things need DHS approval. The TSA should be given “the authority to whack and hack some of the bad out,” Mica said.

TSA Administrator John Pistole told lawmakers in February he was working to make the organization more agile and better performing. The ability to adapt quickly based on intelligence and threats is “paramount to effective security,” he said.

Mica contends that the role of TSA chief should be elevated, including more pay and more control over security operations. And he says the administrator should be among the first officials the President appoints.