TSA Starts Random Ramp Checks Of GA Aircraft

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If you thought flying your own aircraft was a way to avoid the scrutiny of the Transportation Safety Administration, think again. While youíll likely be able to keep your shoes on, donít be surprised if a TSA official checks out you and your plane at any of the hundreds of U.S. airports with scheduled airline service. According to AOPA, the TSA isnít concerned about the toothpaste you carry on your own plane, but it does want to make sure banned items donít get smuggled aboard an airliner. AOPAís Rob Hackman said itís part of a larger effort to ensure contraband is kept off airliners. "While GA access points will be randomly checked with all other points of entry, GA is not being targeted," he said. Pilots in Melbourne, Fla., were briefed by a TSA official on the program at a meeting last Thursday. Meanwhile, some lawmakers are saying GA is getting a free ride in the security department, and they want the TSA to give private aircraft more attention. At a Senate committee hearing last week, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., contradicted popular belief (and perhaps some of the rules of physics) when he told the hearing that GA aircraft and their occupants should come under about the same level of scrutiny as commercial aircraft. "We're not taking the lessons of 9/11 seriously," Rockefeller said. "There is nothing written ... that small planes can't do catastrophic damage." He cited the accident in which New York Yankees' pitcher Cory Lidle's Cirrus SR20 hit a Manhattan apartment building as an example of the "significant damage" a small airplane can do, according to a report in GovExec.com. What he apparently neglected to mention was that while the crash caused a fire that damaged part of the building, the aircraft actually bounced off and landed in the street.