The House Homeland Security Committee was expected to take action last month on the “Aviation Security Stakeholder Participation Act of 2011,” which will establish an industry committee within the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to advise the assistant secretary of Homeland Security on aviation security matters.
If approved by the full House, the Senate and the President, the bill (H.R. 1447) would create an Aviation Security Advisory Committee that would include several working groups, including a general aviation security working group that would make recommendations on security issues for general aviation facilities and general aviation aircraft and helicopter operations at GA and commercial service airports. The bill passed out of the House Homeland Security subcommittee on transportation security on September 14 by a 6-3 vote.
Within a year of enactment, the bill would require the TSA to develop procedures and protocols to permit business aircraft operators access to airspace closed by temporary flight restrictions. Such airspace, usually surrounding a traveling dignitary and major sporting events, has for the decade since 9/11 been closed to virtually all civilian traffic. The subcommittee bill calls for reopening that airspace to general aviation under some circumstances, as long as doing so does not affect security.
The measure also contains an amendment from subcommittee chairman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) aimed at bringing consistency to the TSA’s use of “security directives” (SDs). That issue was the subject of a letter sent to Rogers on September 13 by a coalition of aviation groups that includes NBAA, AOPA, the Air Transport Association, the Airports Council International, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and the National Air Transportation Association.
The membership of the advisory committee will consist of individuals representing not more than 27 member organizations, including air carriers, all cargo air transportation, indirect air carriers, labor organizations representing air carrier employees, aircraft manufacturers, airport operators, general aviation, privacy, the travel industry and the aviation technology security industry, including biometrics.
“We commend the House subcommittee leaders for passing this legislation, which gives business aviation a greater voice in the security policies that impact our industry,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen.