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.