Some Like It, Some Say It Could Have Been Worse
How does the aviation industry react to the TSA's
recommendations on GA airport security?
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) applauded
the release of general aviation security guidelines by the
Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This "Information
Publication", released after months of industry working with the
TSA, is designed to establish non-regulatory guidelines for general
aviation airport security.
"The release of this publication reflects a growing realization
that information is a primary weapon in the war on terrorism. TSA
understands that the best security practices come from working with
people in the field. By working cooperatively with industry in an
information sharing environment, we have done far more today than
would have been accomplished by either the TSA or industry working
alone," said GAMA President & CEO Ed Bolen.
"AOPA worked long and hard to make sure TSA made
the guidelines relevant to general aviation – that they
didn’t apply airline airport security to GA," said AOPA
President Phil Boyer. "Now that the federal guidelines are out,
it’s crucial that decisions by state and local authorities
reflect the guidelines and are appropriate to each GA
airport’s individual situation."
The TSA guidelines
state several times that they are not regulatory. The suggestions
contained in the document are not mandated changes. The intent, the
agency says, is to provide uniform, federally backed guidelines
that give airport managers and sponsors a consistent way to
evaluate their security needs. "Both TSA and the GA community agree
that a single approach to security will not cover the spectrum of
the nation’s GA airports," said TSA Acting Administrator Adm.
AOPA is concerned about how the guidelines might
be interpreted and implemented locally. Specifically, there are two
appendices that assess security characteristics of airports and
offer suggestions for security enhancements. The IP itself notes,
"Airport owners and operators should rely on their experience and
intimate knowledge of their facility, applying those items that are
both reasonable and effective."
"AOPA will watch closely to see how the
guidelines are implemented," said Boyer. "The very credibility of
the TSA guidelines is at stake."
EAA has been reviewing
and will continue to review the impact of the guidelines released
by TSA on sport and recreational flight activities, but generally
we appreciate TSA's desire to supply a measure of nationwide
consistency to the dialogue being undertaken by states,
municipalities, and airport operators who have been seeking some
type of guidance as they develop airport-specific security
That being said, the value of the document can only be measured
by the level of common sense applied to its application in the
field. EAA will continue its efforts to ensure that any
security guidelines and their implementation strike an appropriate
balance between necessary security and the freedom of personal
EAA is pleased that TSA recognized that there are an infinite
variety of general aviation landing facilities in the US, and that
security enhancements cannot be implemented with a single standard
or set of standards and must be consistent with available
resources. TSA is to be applauded for using that common-sense
approach. EAA is pleased it could provide input at a number
of levels throughout the process, and will continue to do so on
specific issues regarding these guidelines.
NBAA appeared to be still formulating its response to the new
TSA guidelines at the time this edition of ANN was published.