NBAA Convention News

Revised security NPRM expected to modify LASP

 - October 14, 2009, 11:56 AM

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) expects to issue a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking for the Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) early next year. It will incorporate feedback from pilots, airport officials and others received during the rulemaking’s initial public comment period in late 2008.

The original LASP was pulled back earlier this year after a storm of overwhelmingly negative comments. LASP is under review and undergoing revisions based on those comments and public meetings.

When the TSA’s aviation security advisory committee (ASAC) met recently for the first time in nearly three years to receive updates on TSA security programs affecting airports, cargo and general aviation, NBAA recommended that the TSA form a general aviation subgroup of the ASAC to focus on issues related to GA, so that future iterations of the LASP are not overly burdensome and costly to GA pilots.

When the TSA released its Security Directive 8F (SD-08F) in December requiring pilots based at airline-served airports to undergo a security threat assessment and receive a security badge to continue to have unescorted access to their airports, the governor of Montana called it an “unfunded mandate without clear rationale or justification.”

Gov. Brian Schweitzer said many small local airports must fund the considerable administrative costs and many isolated rural communities will find this additional and costly requirement onerous and burdensome.

Since the security directive (SD) on badging went into effect on June 1, House lawmakers agreed with assertions from the GA community that the TSA has been using security directives to bypass a rulemaking process that must solicit comments from affected parties.

An amendment was added to the TSA Authorization Act that clarified the conditions under which the TSA would be authorized to issue SDs, limiting the practice to situations involving imminent threat and finite duration.

The original LASP proposed creating a security program that would require operators of any aircraft with a mtow greater than 12,500 pounds to create a security program subject to biennial third-party audits, force flight crews to undergo criminal history background checks, require all passengers to be vetted against TSA no-fly lists and prohibit carriage of certain items. More than 7,000 comments opposing the plan were submitted. The TSA indicated that industry would have 60 days to review and submit comments on the new proposal, which may include a higher weight threshold. The revised LASP notice of proposed rulemaking should be issued early next year, according to NBAA.

Another TSA unilateral security move that rankled general aviation was the use of its “Operation Playbook”–which was originally launched at commercial airports–at general aviation airports. It was an initiative where local TSA officials would include random security measures in their procedures, as well as physical screening and search of passengers and baggage.

The TSA said the reason for using the playbook was so that local TSA and FBO officials could coordinate a time when both entities could prepare and execute enhanced security measures. However, some local TSA officials incorporated these security measures at FBOs without advance notice.

When the TSA’s federal security directors attempted to implement Operation Playbook at all airports, the effort was met with skepticism from general aviation because of concerns about the scope, requirements and methods of implementation of the plan.

Meanwhile, the Modification and Replacement Parts Association (Marpa) said the TSA “is one step closer to issuing security regulations for repair stations.” The TSA has submitted a draft of a notice of proposed rulemaking to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

The rulemaking is five years later than the Aug. 8, 2004 deadline imposed by the 2003 FAA Authorization Act, which called for the TSA to issue “final regulations to ensure the security of foreign and domestic aircraft repair stations.”

The TSA also missed a second deadline of Aug. 3, 2008. Now Marpa expects the proposed rules to be published in the Federal Register possibly in December, “although a January release might be more realistic.”

According to the U.S. government’s Web site, “The [notice of proposed rulemaking] will propose general requirements for security programs to be adopted and implemented by repair stations certified by the FAA.”