An industry panel is hoping to receive an update from the Transportation Security Administration next week on its delayed response to a plan to eliminate the armed security officer (ASO) requirement for business aircraft operations at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). The issue is one of several topics the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) is expected to discuss when it gathers for its next closed-door meeting on September 2.
Despite apparent urgency on the issue earlier this year, the TSA missed its congressionally set deadline for making a formal response to an ASAC recommendation to eliminate the requirement for "the guy with the gun." In February the ASAC unanimously agreed to make a recommendation to eliminate the ASO requirement and moved swiftly on the recommendation at the urging of TSA officials, who had stressed that ASAC support would help with interagency coordination, according to meeting minutes.
The TSA has a 90-day deadline to respond to the ASAC recommendations and is required to provide either "an implementation plan or justification for rejection.” The TSA verbally confirmed it received the ASO recommendation, but has not yet provided any further communication on it. TSA officials appeared to be supportive of an outright elimination of the requirement, rather than an alternative to the requirement. But the agency is only one step in the approval process and must coordinate with other agencies with Washington security concerns, such as the Secret Service, which do not face the same congressional deadlines for ASAC responses the TSA does.