Following bungled security inspections of general aviation facilities at Nashville International Airport and Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) significantly changed “Operation Playbook,” a controversial security program for GA introduced through a pilot program last year.
Federal Air Marshal Service
In testimony before Congress in June, Admiral James Loy, head of the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), stated that 1,208 of the airport passenger security screeners employed by his agency had been recently dismissed after checks of their backgrounds revealed unsatisfactory personal histories, including major felonies.
Calling September 11 the dividing line between our nation’s approach to aviation security on a “relatively peacetime” footing and the new “wartime environment,” FAA Administrator Jane Garvey is urging continued support for both the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the FAA, which will continue to be responsible for air traffic security, the safety and integrity of aircraft and the oversight of flight-crew training.
As the first session of the 107th Congress wound down, the wonderful days of bipartisan behavior that followed September 11 gave way to partisan bickering over what the country needed by way of legislation. Democrat leadership in the Senate lacked the inclination to press forward on bills related to economic stimulus, defense spending and energy and turned the Senate’s attention to a railroad pension bill and a farm bill.
Declaring that “this meeting is not designed to ask for a bailout of the American airline industry,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donohue said last month at the chamber’s second annual national aviation summit that “we’re simply asking government not to require the airline industry to absorb more than its fair share of the costs associated with the war on terrorism and defense of our homeland.”
One year after September 11, corporate aviation is still seeking assurances that its business aircraft will be able to operate on par with the commercial airlines in the event there is a future shutdown of parts or all of the National Airspace System.
The President’s Budget of the United States has usually been delivered by the Government Printing Office to Congress bound in a sober, solid navy. This year’s, issued February 4, was literally wrapped in the flag. The red, white and blue motif was repeated in the United States Department of Transportation Fiscal Year 2003 Budget in Brief, which tossed in photos of airplanes and ships in flag livery or overflying flag masts.
Back in the 1700s the poet Robert Burns wrote, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men gang aft agley an’ lea’ us naught but grief an’ pain for promis’d joy!” The 108th Congress “scheme” (plan) to have appropriations bills for the 13 government agencies wrapped up and signed off by October 1, the start of the new fiscal year, went “gang aft agley” (went awry), for only three of the 13 bills made it through the process.
Philip Spayd, Northeast regional director for U.S. Customs, has high hopes for the success of the sweeping new Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He recently told the Connecticut Business Aviation Group, “Keep your eye on it. It’s going to move fast and it is going to affect you.”
Perhaps one of the least appreciated benefits of corporate aviation is that its pilots and their passengers don’t have to endure the security procedures of crowded airport terminals. But the security hassles at the airport are the least of the concerns afflicting the senior managers at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).