Colorado Airport Operators Feeling TSA Stress
The mainstream media is starting to take note of the impact of TSA rules that general aviation pilots and operators have been unhappy about, and if a story in this week's Denver Post is any indication, GA may get a sympathetic hearing. The costs and logistics of TSA regulations on Colorado's airports are significant, Rex Tippetts, director of aviation at Grand Junction's Walker Field, told the Post. New TSA rules will require him to provide 2,000 additional security checks and badges. "It's out of control," he said. "We have a large maintenance operation here with 400 people. We have a large interagency fire-fighting operation here, with maintenance facilities. It's an unfunded mandate we have to comply with. We had to hire people just to comply with it." James Elwood, director of Sardy Field in Aspen, said the regulations will be "time-consuming and difficult to accomplish." Details of the security procedures have been released only to airport managers. The Post reporter said the TSA refused to release a copy of the directive, but a spokeswoman wrote that all personnel with access to secure areas, including private pilots, must undergo a Security Threat Assessment, which includes matching their names against a terrorist database, a criminal background check, and a review of immigration status. Pilots must attain a security badge from each of the 13 commercial airports in the state, and passengers and guests who don't have badges must be escorted.
Dennis Heap, director of the Front Range Airport, said the directive is a major step toward shutting down the nation's GA system. "General aviation is a huge economic generator that polices itself very well," Heap said. "Why are we doing this?"