GA Groups Challenge Report on Industry Security

 - June 3, 2012, 3:50 PM
J.J. Green, the national security correspondent at WTOP (103.5 FM), reports on global intelligence, national security and terrorism developments.

The heads of six general aviation groups last month strongly rebuked a report by a Washington, D.C.-area radio station that alleged GA is the “Achilles Heel” of aviation security.

“We are concerned because the report treats issues that were raised and addressed 10 years ago as if they are new, and because it fails to make any mention of the myriad, multi-layered changes to general aviation security that have taken place since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks,” they said.

AOPA, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, the National Air Transportation Association and NBAA took radio station WTOP to task for not attempting to contact any of them before airing its report on May 7, even though four are located within 10 miles of the station’s studio.

“Any or all of us would have welcomed the opportunity to discuss such an important issue with Mr. [J.J.] Green,” they wrote in a letter to the station. “Should WTOP have occasion to cover general aviation security in the future, we would welcome the opportunity to share our knowledge of the issue with your audience.”

They argued that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) itself recognizes that the many different missions and types of airports and landing facilities that general aviation operates from make a one-size-fits-all security solution impossible. Further, the TSA’s own “Security Guidelines for General Aviation Airports” allows the flexibility to enhance security in differing situations.

“One must recall that on 9/11, there were no GA aviation security requirements. Now, any person seeking primary or certain advanced flight training must prove his or her nationality, and if a foreign national undergo additional background checks. The pilot registry is routinely checked against terrorist watch lists.

“Unlike airline pilots who fly hundreds of strangers every day, pilots operating flights under Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations–whether a light two-seat propeller airplane or a 19-passenger business jet–know their passengers,” the associations continued. “Part 135 air taxi/air charter pilots and operators have additional security requirements imposed by [the TSA]. Finally, contrary to the implication in Mr. Green’s story, general aviation airplanes arriving in the United States are subject to exactly the same ‘no-fly’ list requirements as the scheduled airlines,” the associations said.

Comments

G.L. Meyer's picture

This appears to more of an 'editorial' than a report. The fact that a D.C. radio station was the originator is very suspect on its own merit, and the fact that no one with knowlege of aircraft operations was asked to offer an opinion would indicate a 'political' motive.

Joe's picture

JJ Green has long been a propagandist for DOD - if you listen to the rest of his reports, you'll get the idea. This is completely in character for him, fortunately, most people that agree with him would have regardless of his reporting anyway. Hopefully most can see through it.

Jan Woellhaf's picture

On 12 Sep 2001, I had a business meeting with some people from Jeppesen. Regarding the terrorist attacks, I said, "General Aviation is going to be severely punished for that." "What do you mean?" one asked, "General Aviation had nothing to do with it?" "Exactly," I replied.

QED

Don's picture

Sounds as if he talks before he thinks. GA has lifted Aviation to the height it is today. So many of us are currant or retired from the airlines, military, government and recreational flying with many hours and experience in all fields. The only reason he that he has oral diarrhea is for political reasons and it is quite obvious that he does not know much about GA. We are always being slapped around.

E. Harold Munn, Jr.'s picture

Contrary to WTOP's comment, many of us higher time GA pilots carefully observed the door codes to GA ramps; screened any less-than-familiar passenger-guests; filed and flew instrument plans on VFR days when using a major hub airport as a further identity precaution. The approaching pilot shortage is not alleviated by less than intelligent comments in the media, written or mouthed by persons totally ignorant of the subject, but expected to aid circulation numbers by fomenting fear on the part of the public and triggering knee-jerk regulatory action with attendant increase in public employment rolls.

Gary Sturdy's picture

Ignorance is fixable. Let's face it. You can't cure stupid.

Duane Skoog's picture

Well said, sir!

Richard Herbst's picture

At a trade show recently, the issue of GA came up in conversation with several SATOP and TSA publicists who loudly acknowledged the "security hole" enjoyed by GA and proclaimed that "they won't get away with that much longer."

TSA has its administrative eyes on no less than the FAA itself and as the 99 political percenters know, they usually get what they want through the media.

J.W.'s picture

My thoughts is that GA pilots help increase security around airports with an extra set of eyes. Pilots have thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars in aircraft and if something amiss, I am sure it gets brought to the attention of authorities. On the other hand here at KCPR (an international airport BTW) we have a drag racing club behind the security fence and countless private race trailers lined up along the building. The place is a throng of activity in to many hours of the night and "burnouts" are common on the taxiway! There are also many members of the club that have access to the secure area where the shop is located behind the security fence. None of the members have a lick of interest in aviation but get access because they have some stoke with the head of maintainance at the airport. I have to believe similar things are going on at other airports around the country as well. So before we start regulating GA pilots that contribute to the economy of this country let the FAA clean- up some of these situations across the country first! I put out a tremendous amount of money every month to keep my aircraft flying and deserve access to the facility!

Terry D Welander's picture

As has been suggested numerous times in the past, privatize the
TSA. Emphatically, privatize the TSA. We would get twice the
security for half the cost.

Al Steel's picture

Most automobiles and light trucks have more payload capacity than my GA airplane.

Where's the rant about security concerns with private autos? OK City had a devastating attack perpetrated with a rented truck. Where is the outrage about all the delivery vans so prevalent in our cities? Nice try, JJ, now back to your cubicle!

R. C. Thompson's picture

Why not invite Mr. J. J. Green to agree to have someone from AOPA and/or Business Aviation to come on the "show", present valid facts, and 1) present a knowledgeable response to the allegations, and 2) debate possibilities for a mutually acceptable plan which "secures" GA interests and property AND meets the public need for security?
Perhaps this is too unreasonable a suggestion; the Washington modus operandi these days is more stand behind rigid walls of positionality and throw verbal rocks at anyone else with differing ideas. Everyone voices opinions. Being informed has become optional.

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