Security Directives and TSA Hearings

by on December 18, 2008

A couple of items came out in the news today that I want to pass along in case you missed them.

The first is from an AOPA article in their Government Advocacy section concerning new pilot security procedures. It seems that the TSA has issued a security directive that will require all pilots based at airports which have air carrier service to undergo a background check and be issued a special ID badge in order to have access to the airport. This requirement is to go into effect in 2009, though no specific date was mentioned. Nor was the term ‘air carrier service’ explained, though by specifying scheduled service they imply commuter airline airports as well as the major carriers.

The airport where I am based does not have scheduled service, so I don’t know what the current policies are regarding access to hangers/airplanes on these type of airports. I do know that we now have fences up all around our airport and we have card-access gates. The cards are issued by the airport manager and are restricted to hanger owners/occupants and owners of aircraft using tiedowns, but as far as I know those are the only restrictions. Two gates, monitored by cameras, are left open during weekday office hours for workers at airport businesses and their customers, but they are closed each evening and only the one next to the manager’s office is left open on weekends – allowing airport access for aircraft renters.

The article covers the transient pilot issue by saying that:

The directive does not change requirements for transient pilots. Transient pilots flying into air carrier airports will continue to be subject to the current escorting and monitoring requirements.

It seems to me that whatever the current procedures are, this will significantly increase the cost of doing business at these airports. Who is doing the background checks and who is paying for them? Are new ID cards now required and how will they be issued and used?

If you are based at one of these scheduled airline airports, please let me know how you think this may effect you. I’m just curious about how this is going to change your airport access. It may be that the ID card that you use to open the airport access gate will qualify for these purposes, though the requirement to get one would now include a background check.

The second item is a follow-on to a post I published last month about the TSA proposal for security of Large Aircraft (over 12,500 lbs.). The TSA has now published a list of five locations where they will be holding public hearings about their proposal. This was covered on the AOPA, NBAA, AvWeb and Aero-News sites, so the word is starting to get out. Please attend one of these meetings if you can and advise all those pilots you know in the area to do the same. We have to stop this unwarranted expansion of their program before it goes any farther. Here is the link to their notice of the meetings and from the NBAA website:

“We appreciate this effort by the TSA to hear from the people in our industry whose operations stand to be greatly affected by this proposal,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “NBAA Members have been understandably frustrated by the proposal because it seems to lack a true understanding of how a general aviation airplane fits into a company’s operations and security culture. I strongly encourage anyone able to participate in these meetings to mark their calendars and plan to attend.”

The meetings – which will each begin at 9 a.m. local time (with registration starting at 8 a.m. local time) – will be held at the following locations:

* White Plains, NY, Jan. 6, 2009: Westchester County Airport (HPN), Building 1 Airport Road, White Plains, NY 10604
* Atlanta, GA, Jan. 8, , 2009: Renaissance Concourse Hotel Atlanta Airport, One Hartsfield Centre Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30354
* Chicago, IL, Jan. 16, 2009: Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Convention Center, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018
* Burbank, CA, Jan. 23, 2009: Burbank Airport Marriot Hotel & Convention Center, 2500 North Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505
* Houston, TX, Jan. 28, 2009: Hilton Houston Hotel-North Greenspoint Conference Center, 12400 Greenspoint Drive, Houston, TX 77060

The comment period for this proposal was extended until February 27, 2009. If you have not made your opinions known, please submit a comment NOW! From my previous post:

Do your own research. Read the NPRM. Make up your own mind about what this could mean if it is passed. Then, make your (civil) feelings about this proposal known! Comment on this NPRM! Sit down now and start the process of submitting your comment!

How to Submit a Comment

To comment – refer to Docket No. TSA-2008-0021, “Large Aircraft Security Program, Other Aircraft Operator Security Program, and Airport Operator Security Program.”

By Mail, In Person or Fax to the Docket Management Facility, U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington DC 20590-0001. Fax 202-493-2251.

To comment electronically – access the Federal eRulemaking portal at www.Regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

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