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Thu, Oct 09, 2008

Aero-News Alert: TSA Unveils Security Restrictions On Large Aircraft

Requires Implementation Of "Approved" Programs

The days of relatively unfettered travel onboard large business aircraft may soon come to an abrupt end. Thursday morning, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) unveiled its proposed rule that will govern operations for all aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds, which would require those operators to implement an approved security program.

The proposed security rules, titled the "Large Aircraft Security Program," would impose security programs on thousands of privately-operated general aviation aircraft and ultimately seek to combine a number of security programs currently in place for general aviation, including the Twelve-Five Standard Security Program, into a single, uniform program.

The National Air Transport Association provides the following background:

In November 2007, US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff introduced the Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) at NATA's Aviation Business Roundtable in Washington, DC. Prior public comments by TSA officials, as well as information provided by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), explained that the new security program will require operators of aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight of more than 12,500 pounds to obtain and implement the TSA's Large Aircraft Security Program. This is the same category of aircraft that today must comply with the Twelve-Five Standard Security Program if used in air charter operations. The proposed rule, if adopted, will apply to privately operated aircraft.

Late last week, the OMB gave its approval for the TSA to publish the proposed rule for public review and comment. In a conference call this morning, TSA officials briefed NATA and other industry groups on the proposal, and the agency has posted a copy of the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on their Web site for early review prior to publication in the Federal Register.

The NPRM -- available here, and at the first FMI link below -- is the result of a sweeping review of private aircraft operations by DHS, and its TSA underlings. As ANN reported earlier this year, Chertoff strongly hinted DHS planned to issue requirements for crews and passengers of private jets to provide their names, birthdates and other information an hour before takeoff, so they can be checked against terrorist watch lists.

And that's exactly what's in the NPRM. The proposed rule seeks to require, among other things, flight crewmember criminal history records checks and security threat assessments; watch list matching of passenger manifests; and security training for all flight crew members. Operators would also be required to have "Security Coordinators" on-staff.

Still another requirement would be for designated reliever airports -- airports that function to ease traffic at larger commercial facilities, primarily by attracting corporate air traffic -- to comply with new security requirements.

Further security measures for large aircraft operators in all-cargo operations, and for operators of passenger aircraft with a MTOW of over 100,309.3 lbs (45,500 kg), operated for compensation or hire.

The NPRM carries a 60-day comment period.

Early reaction to the NPRM falls down predictable party lines... with NATA President James Coyne largely applauding the proposed guidelines.

 "We have been eagerly awaiting the release of the Large Aircraft Security Program for some time," Coyne said. "We are currently reviewing the content of this new, ground-breaking security measure, and we look forward to continuing our work with DHS and TSA officials to ensure that the LASP's makeup appropriately addresses legitimate security concerns while recognizing the unique operating tendencies of the general aviation industry."

Conversely, the 415,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association expressed concern NPRM announced could have serious implications on general aviation. "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."

AOPA notes its members questioned the limits on personnel freedom, financial impacts and potential implications of the rule for the broader general aviation community, seeing this as a start for the Federal Government to regulate all non-commercial operations.

"Our members believe that this proposal presents a potential drain on our Nation’s limited financial resources for aviation safety and security that could be better spent improving other areas of our critical infrastructure," Cebula added.

FMI: Read The NPRM (courtesy of NATA),,,


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