Vague GAO Report Fails To Address Security Risk Issue

 - June 21, 2011, 5:23 AM

10:30 6-21-2011

In response to a Senate committee request, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessed security at 13 U.S. general aviation (GA) airports and found that they “had multiple security measures in place to protect against unauthorized access.” The 33-page GAO report notes that the senators who asked for the study are interested “in the security risks posed by unauthorized individuals gaining access to airports with general aviation operations…” The GAO visited 13 airports, including three where commercial operations take place, and assessed the airports’ compliance with voluntary TSA security guidelines. At one airport with no perimeter fencing, GAO investigators drove onto the airport and parked next to a jet without being stopped or questioned by anyone. Oddly, while the senators asked for an assessment of security risks, the GAO report focused on security measures. The sole reference to risks is this statement: “Larger aircraft, such as midsized and larger business jets, could cause catastrophic damage to structures and pose a greater risk if they are located near major metropolitan areas. Preventing unauthorized access to general aviation airports and aircraft may help mitigate some security risks.” However, the GAO provided no data that supports this conclusion other than citing the February 2010 crash of a single-engine Piper into an IRS building in Austin, Texas.