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Tue, Dec 21, 2004

Loy Was Strong Advocate Of AOPA's Airport Watch Program

Loy Was Strong Advocate Of AOPA's Airport Watch Program

Adm. James Loy, the second-in-command at DHS, has been a strong advocate for balancing the needs of general aviation with the demands of security. Among the programs he vigorously promoted is AOPA's Airport Watch, which he cited as a model for partnership between industry and government.

Loy's resignation was announced Monday -- effective March 1st.

"Adm. Loy clearly understands that security has to be tempered with practicality," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "He allowed AOPA open access to him, which greatly aided pilots on important GA matters. The only time we personally crossed swords was when I didn't call him on a TSA rulemaking but instead enlisted the help of Congress. Loy was offended by my misreading his intense desire to hear from me directly rather than have his staff deal with the issue. What a refreshing change as we discussed this by phone. Never before in my experience with federal agencies had a leader wanted this much feedback.

"The departures of Secretary Tom Ridge and Deputy Secretary Loy will leave a large void at the Department of Homeland Security. We hope the administration will nominate people of equal understanding and capacity to replace them," Boyer said.

With Loy (pictured above, right, with AOPA President Phil Boyer), AOPA says it found an open door and an advocate. From his previous service as the US Coast Guard commandant, he understood how private or recreational operators fit into the national transportation system, and he was a strong proponent of government partnership with citizens, both on the water and in the air.

He was an early and strong advocate for AOPA's Airport Watch program. When AOPA President Boyer first presented the idea to him, he readily agreed to the government funding and operating the toll-free security hotline (866/GA-SECUR). Loy praised Airport Watch at a Washington, DC, press conference announcing the program to the national media.

Loy stood up for general aviation on numerous occasions, including during congressional testimony in which he said some security officials had overstated the possible threat of GA to national security.

He also worked with AOPA and FAA to reassess "permanent" temporary flight restrictions over defense installations. Most of those TFRs were ultimately changed to less restrictive national security areas.

"We wish Adm. Loy well, and we're sorry to lose someone with whom we've established such a good working relationship and who understands the needs and concerns of general aviation pilots," said Boyer. "We will strive to build the same kind of cooperation with Adm. Loy's and Secretary Ridge's successors."

FMI: www.aopa.org, www.dhs.gov

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