...Issues Include Security...

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One of the most vexing issues to confront the industry recently is the moving target of general aviation security: how to improve it, how to ensure it and how to convince politicians and the public alike that much has already been done to prevent business and charter aviation from being used by terrorists. The problem was highlighted last week as CBS aired what amounted to an "attack journalism" piece targeting fly-in communities but painting non-scheduled aviation as insecure because it does not feature TSA battle droids, metal detectors and baggage-scanning equipment at every grass strip throughout the U.S. For all its faults -- and industry observers tell AVweb the piece really got nothing right -- it did serve to remind industry it still has a long way to go before the public's opinion of general and business aviation's relative security changes.

Indeed, and for all practical purposes, no significant progress in this area has been made by industry for roughly a year. For example, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport remains closed to non-scheduled flights, no matter how many times industry has asked for a program to allow its reopening. Another example is the continuing bans on Part 91 and 135 operations in various blocks of airspace whenever a security-related Temporary Flight Restriction is created, like during last night's State of the Union address. All of which is despite government-approved security programs being in place for many of these operators and the overwhelming lack of any evidence that terrorists want to use a non-airline aircraft in an attack. Unfortunately, and barring a significant "event" in private aviation's favor, this "stalemate" between the industry, government and the media shows no signs of abating throughout 2004.