The National Business Aviation Association says the Transportation Security Administration is rewriting a manual for field personnel after a surprise general aviation security operation delayed passengers and crew members in Nashville in late December and early January. Doug Carr, NBAA's VP of Safety, Security and Regulation, said TSA officials conducted bag searches and wanded passengers and crew headed for private aircraft and also checked FBO personnel in what appears to have been a misinterpretation by local TSA personnel of instructions in a classified security manual called the Playbook. Carr said NBAA has since discussed the operation with TSA headquarters and confirmed that this kind of activity "is not the direction they wanted to go regarding general aviation." He said he's been told a new Playbook is in the works that will address the issue but since the manual is secret, he can't know exactly what's in it.
Carr said NBAA first heard of the Playbook late last year when the local TSA told officials at Bradley Airport in Hartford, Conn., about plans to step up GA security. NBAA stepped in at that time and the plans were dropped. However, the Nashville TSA headquarters obviously took something in the Playbook to mean that random security checks of private aircraft and FBOs was part of that plan and set up a table at Nashville Airport to carry them out. Although the incidents took place more than a month ago, word just got out last week. It spread quickly, however, and caused a lot of concern for some, since there has been a lot of discussion about the TSA and GA security recently with the five public hearings on the administration's Large Airplane Security Program. Carr said he doesn't think the two issues are linked or are part of an overall security plan for GA, although the timing might suggest that to some.