By Mary Grady, Contributing Editor
A proposed rule from the Transportation Security Administration aimed at general aviation could have "serious implications," says AOPA. "This proposed rule is an unprecedented imposition of security requirements on the general aviation community, affecting 10,000 individual operators and hundreds of airports," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. "An overwhelming majority of our members surveyed last week expressed strong concerns about the proposal." The huge 260-page TSA proposal would require all U.S. operators of aircraft exceeding 12,500 pounds maximum takeoff weight to implement a TSA-approved security program. Mandated measures would include fingerprinting and background checks of flight crews, vetting passengers against terrorist watch lists, and security requirements for GA airports.
EAA also was alarmed by the proposal. "On first glance, these new regulations would compel many operators of large vintage aircraft, Warbirds, turboprops, and others over 12,500 pounds to comply with new, costly, and burdensome requirements which, frankly, do not appear to equate with their risk assessment profiles," said Doug Macnair, EAA vice president of government relations.
"The proposal also ignores that fact that private operators of general aviation aircraft are not carrying the public and are in all instances personally acquainted with their passengers in the same manner as a passenger in your personal automobile. We do not feel that personal-use aircraft should be painted with the same broad brush as commercial and charter operators who carry the public." EAA's B-17 tour and other organizations that offer historic experience rides in large aircraft would fall under the new requirements. The TSA says its proposed rules would "strengthen the security of general aviation by further minimizing the vulnerability of aircraft being used as weapons or to transport dangerous people or materials." All of the GA alphabet groups are continuing to review the proposal and are expected to file formal comments during the TSA's 60-day comment period. The complete text of the proposal is available in PDF format at the TSA Web site.