GA Security And Public Perception…

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Alphabets Slam Times Story

Officialdom's goals for GA security have been kicked up a notch, according to a leaked FBI/Department of Homeland Security report quoted in a front-page story in Monday's New York Times, and that's brought a predictable flurry of backlash from the alphabet groups. In fact, AOPA President Phil Boyer did four television interviews in time to refute, on the evening news, what he termed the "highly misleading" Times story. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) also noted that several enhancements to GA security have already been implemented. The Times story emphasized the attraction of GA airports to terrorists now that security has been beefed up at most major airports. The story also quoted the report as saying that GA airports should have security procedures (screeners, explosives detectors, etc.) similar to those at major airports. Boyer said that's both impractical and unnecessary and criticized the Times for reopening this can of worms. Boyer stressed that GA has taken practical and effective steps to boost security, mostly through increased awareness of the potential threat. The resulting Airport Watch program has trained thousands of pilots and other aviation personnel to recognize and report unusual behavior. Some GA airports, he noted, have installed perimeter fencing, security cameras and other features to thwart would-be terrorists. "But not every airport can have that so there've been changes in pilot licensing, flight instruction," he said.