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GA working group meets with TSA on security issues
November 5, 2010
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  • By Dan Namowitz

    The Aviation Security Advisory Committees generalaviation working group, on which AOPA serves, met to discuss a variety ofissues and initiatives Oct. 25 at the headquarters of the TransportationSecurity Administration.

    The group, which provides industry involvement insecurity decision making, looked into ways to make temporary flightrestrictions (TFRs) more manageable for GA aircraft; a TSA request for feedbackon a security grants program; better GA access to Ronald Reagan-WashingtonNational Airport; updating the 2004 Security Guidelines for General AviationAirports; and other issues.

    John and Martha King, the well-known flight trainingpersonalities, also attended the all-day session, joining a review of thecauses and ramifications of their Aug. 28 confrontation with police at theSanta Barbara, Calif., airport that was precipitated by the erroneous reportingof their Cessna 172s N number to law enforcement authorities as that of astolen aircraft. Officials have acknowledged that better interagencycoordination of databases, and improved aircraft registration methods, might haveprevented the dangerous incident.

    Several members of the GA working group will follow upthe days session by meeting to develop suggestions for reducing the economicimpact of TFRs on GA operations at affected airports. Some TFRs have requiredlocal aviation businesses to cease or severely limit their activity while theTFRs have been in effect. AOPA has called for stakeholder participation in thisprocess as a result of the impact of past TFRs in Las Vegas, Nev., Chicago,Ill., and elsewhere.

    Security grants and gathering information to determinewhat projects to undertake were also discussed. The TSA will be required toprovide grants to GA airports for security-upgrade projects, althoughlegislation to distribute the funds has not yet been passed.

    The GA staff at TSA would like to have a proposal ready,and information in place, should they receive appropriations. TSA asked thegroup for feedback on what considerations belong in the grant program. Many inthe group suggested that the grant money be specifically allocated to GA-onlyairports that cannot receive funding from FAA for security enhancements, saidBrittney Miculka, AOPA manager of security and borders, who represented theassociation at the meeting.The TSA is now conducting airport visits to validateinformation gathered in its GA Airport Vulnerability Assessment, which couldlay the groundwork for the grant awards. TSA had sent out surveys toapproximately 3,000 GA airports last spring, and will report findings toCongress by year end, Miculka said.

    TSA representatives summarized their meeting of thissummer with the top five GA operators that fly into Ronald Reagan-WashingtonNational Airport, and shared suggestions on how to increase the number of GAflights into the airport and make its Access Security Program moreuser-friendly, said Brian Delauter, manager of the TSA General Aviation office.He said that new updates and enhancements will be released soon.

    Revising the 2004 Security Guidelines for GeneralAviation Airports will be a task for AOPA and several of the working groupsmembers. An important component of the update may be new TSA regulationsexpected within the next 12 months including the Large Aircraft SecurityProgram, Repair Station Security, and the GA Airport Vulnerability Assessment.

    The group also took up the Alien Flight Student Rule,focusing on the need to update the program to make it more workable for foreignpilots and the flight schools that train them.

    The GA working group was formed in September 2009, andmeets twice yearly to review security issues and new developments.

    The Aviation Security Advisory Committee was establishedin 1989 by the FAA with a mission of examining civil aviation security andrecommending improvements for methods, equipment and procedures. ASACrecommendations are reviewed by the ASAC Secretariat within the TSAs office oftransportation strategic policy, and forwarded to the administrator forconsideration in future rulemaking actions and security program amendments. OnNov. 19, 2001, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) was signedinto law, establishing the TSA and giving it responsibility for civil aviationsecurity. Sponsorship of the ASAC then transferred to the TSA.$40529

    Date: 2010-10-29