DHS Seeks To Avert GA Nuke Nightmare

 - November 6, 2007, 10:02 AM

“The nightmare scenario that we talk about is the possibility of a weapon of mass destruction being detonated in a city,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said at yesterday’s NATA Aviation Business Roundtable in Washington, D.C. “It’s obvious that general aviation is another place we have to look. The last thing we want is to have someone get on a general aviation jet, put a nuclear bomb in it and decide that instead of landing they’re going to downtown New York or Washington, D.C., [to] detonate a bomb.” In addition to a recent proposal to require customs notice one hour before GA departures into and out of the continental U.S., Chertoff wants to have U.S.-bound GA crews, passengers and aircraft screened at gateway airports outside the U.S. before departure. This could eventually include screening for nuclear and radiological bombs. “Our challenge is defined in the way we do these kinds of defensive measures without sacrificing the fluidity and freedom of movement that characterizes general aviation,” he said. “We are mindful of the fact that we don’t want to destroy this system of general aviation in order to be safe. That would be playing into the hands of terrorists.”