TSA Opens Large Aircraft Security Meetings

Jan 6, 2009
Jim Swickard

There was standing room only today as the Transportation Security Administration held the first of five public meetings to solicit comments on its proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) at Westchester County Airport (HPN) in White Plains, N.Y. The LASP would affect all aircraft with a MGTOW of 12,500 pounds or more, their crews and passengers and any airport used by these aircraft.

The New York Times had estimated that about 100 pilots were expected to attend, but it appeared that three to four times that number crowded into the auditorium of the former Air National Guard headquarters building near the airport entrance.

Registration was a requirement to comment or testify and TSA did its utmost to hold oral testimony to three minutes, although there is no limit on written input, which can be submitted online, by mail or by fax. The comment period ends Feb. 27.

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen and representatives of AOPA, EAA, the Westchester Airport Association, and the Massachusetts, Connecticut and Long Island business aviation associations all testified. Others who spoke included representatives from FBOs, flight departments, fractional aircraft and historic aircraft operations, business owners, owner pilots, corporate pilots and local aircraft owners and operators. All those who spoke raised opposition to some or most of the provisions in the proposal.

Among the most contentious items were those requiring all passengers be checked against federal "watch" lists, that many items, including tools and sporting equipment, would be prohibited from carriage, that all operators would have to undergo biennial security audits by third parties, and that aircraft over 100,000 lb would be subject to on-demand carriage of an armed federal air marshal. Most speakers also objected to the 12,500 lb baseline, with many suggesting the base should be 100,000 lb. The LASP essentially places the same security burdens on FAR91 as on airline aircraft.

In his testimony Bolen urged the TSA to delay any action on the 260-page proposal as written and instead form a government/industry Aviation Rulemaking Committee, similar to those used in the creation of the fractional aircraft ownership regulations and new air charter regulations, to create a set of rules appropriate to business aviation operations and palatable to all.

The next public meeting will be tomorrow in Atlanta, followed by meetings in Chicago, Jan. 16, Burbank, Jan. 23 and Houston, Jan. 28.

AVIATION WEEK Copyright 2008, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

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