GA "Vulnerable" To Terrorists

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GAO Official Warns Congress...

Although federal authorities can't seem to stop violations of the most secure airspace in the country around Washington, government mandarins continue to fuss about the terrorism potential allegedly posed by the U.S.'s "19,000 general aviation airports." According to MSNBC, Cathleen Berrick of the General Accounting Office (GAO) recently told Congress that GA is "far more open and potentially vulnerable than commercial aviation" to terrorist activity. The foundation of that vulnerability is the fact that almost none of the passengers and gear aboard GA flights undergo any type of screening. However, despite the GAO's apparent concern, it doesn't seem like metal detectors and X-ray machines will be coming to your local airport anytime soon. The Transportation Security Administration's Brian Turmail told MSNBC that the TSA's approach to GA security is "threat based, risk managed." He said the agency must look at a variety of factors. "What is the threat posed by certain types of aircraft and how do we allocate limited resources to put in place the best possible security?" he said. So far, Turmail admitted the TSA's response has been to rely almost entirely on the implementation of industry initiatives, such as AOPA's Airport Watch, although it does do spot checks to ensure operators of aircraft heavier than 12,500 pounds have security screening procedures in place. It also keeps an eye on aircraft transactions and has cross-referenced all pilot certificates against a list of known terrorists.