GAO, NATA Tangle Over GA Security

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The General Accounting Office (GAO) made "completely inappropriate" comments about security at general aviation airports in a report that should have been confined to concerns about aerial advertising, says the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). As AVweb told you earlier this month, the GAO released a report examining the potential security threat of allowing banner-towers to resume operations at sports stadiums. "The report the GAO was tasked to accomplish was on aerial advertising flights, not on security at general aviation airports and the supposed inconsistencies in background checks," said Eric Byer, NATA's director of government and industry affairs. "Considering that the GAO is in the midst of conducting an investigation into general aviation airport security, the comments are completely inappropriate." While the report said the TSA doesn't seem very worried about banner-towers, it did find gaps in the screening processes used to check out the banner-towing pilots. It said that factors were identified that could limit the effectiveness of the background checks and there were inconsistencies in the gathering and processing of the information. The GAO concluded there were a variety of factors that make general aviation vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Banner-towers remain banned from stadium overflights thanks to a congressional order contained in a recent appropriations bill.