MPA LEGISLATION REPORT
GREETINGS! First, Here's an update form Washington, D.C. General Aviation Airports and Businesses brace for
tighter security. U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) refers to general aviation aircraft as ticking time bombs. Senator
Ben Nighthorse-Campbell (R-CO) cites FBOs as the biggest weakness in the National Transportation System. Regardless
of the validity of these statements, the industry must now consider: Can GA Airport Security Regulations be far
General Aviation Airports and Airport Businesses have the opportunity to take an ounce of prevention and hopefully hold off any debilitating and possibly unnecessary regulations.
Obstacles to regulating GA airports are significant. The Transportation Security Administration already has its hands full with the airline screening issues, tight Congressional deadlines, and hiring 40, 000 people in a year.
GA airports are not regulated specifically in the Code of Federal Regulations, and most experts agree that GA airports are not likely terrorist targets. The concern regarding General Aviation is more about access to aircraft rather than protection of specific GA facility or site.
We all know how quickly the government can add regulations when they want. They don't always ask for our permission, nor do they even need to have a good idea of how they're going to enforce them. They just need one ambitious Senator, or worse, a devastating terrorist attack using general aviation aircraft.
"If they were to do any regulating of GA airports, they would have to come up with a scheme on how to do it for all of the facilities that are used by GA, from Chicago O'Hare down to a private grass strip," says Craig Williams, Director of Safety and Security for the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE).
Williams believe the FAA/TSA will initially stay focused on those areas they already control. "They're going for the low-hanging fruit, figuring out how to regulate airspace, pilots, and aircraft. You can cover a lot of bases doing that."
Without getting too deep into the technical aspects, the real threat of General Aircraft is mostly in the larger planes that can carry either a lot of fuel or haul a lot of explosives.
What security levels can one expect at GA airports in the future? The answer is a moving target. The American Association of Airport Executives has been working on a set of recommendations by way of a special task force with other industry groups. Here are some of their Draft Recommendations:
1. Classifying GA airports into four categories based on proximity to major population centers or security sensitive locations, such as nuclear sites, and whether the airport has over 200 based aircraft. The higher airport security classifications, 1 and 2, theoretically will require higher security measures.
2. Each airport will draft a security plan and may be required to install additional lighting on airport access points, fuel farms, and aircraft parking areas. Category 1 and 2 airports would require access control procedures, and gate control systems, more signage, and installation of fencing or electronic monitoring. Questions still remain on who would review, and approve these security plans, and what specially they should include.
3. Category 1 and 2 for GA airports would be required to conduct criminal history record checks for airport, and airport business employees.
4. Develop a system for communicating security sensitive information to GA airport managers.
5. Develop a "smart card" type of pilot's license. This sort of recommendation has already been met with resistance in the pilot community and logistical problems. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has come up with its own alternatives. Here they are:
6. Requiring GA aircraft to be secured when not in use.
7. Develop a program to assess new security technologies.
8. Adding contract control towers for better safety and surveillance of the airfield.
The recommendations mirror those of some other Organizations, but any final rulemaking will likely be after much debate and consideration. In addition to the recommendations, AAAE offers several suggestions for funding any new programs. More on these recommendations next month.
Secondly, Here's an Update Concerning Our Missouri Legislation. The Missouri House of Representatives, 2002 Session has adjourned for this year. Some Dates of Interest are August 28th, Effective Date For Bills. September 11TH, Veto Session begins. September 20th, Veto Session must adjourn by Constitution.
While our House and Senate are in adjournment, now is a good time to familiarize yourself with our Local House Representatives, and our State Senators. Just go to: http://www.house.state.mo.us
This will Web Site will give you all the detailed information you need, by just typing in your zip code. We all should get to know our Missouri House Representatives, and State Senators, also get to know your US Congressman, and US Senators.
Many of you may not be aware that there is some redistricting going into effect this year, you can find all of this information at the above Web Site.
Now, In Conclusion, Remember, We as MPA, USPA, AOPA, EAA, or any other Pilot Association has a powerful voice in Missouri, more than we think we do! So Let's continue to make a "Difference for General Aviation in Missouri."
Until Next Time!
Larry G. Harmon
E-mail address: MPALHARMON@aol.com
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