New standards for general aviation security
Online Exclusive, Dec 5 2003
A coalition of general aviation associations established as a working group of the Transportation Security Administration's Aviation Security Advisory Committee has delivered a series of recommendations for enhancing security at general aviation airports, including tighter identification of passengers flying on private planes, closer monitoring of student pilots, and improving airport surveillance.
"Since Sept. 11, general aviation has worked closely with TSA to voluntarily enhance security at facilities across the country," said Stephen McHale, TSA deputy administrator.
TSA will build on these recommendations to establish formal guidelines that general aviation airports can follow to further strengthen security. By early next year, TSA will issue "best practice" guidelines for security at more than 18,000 landing facilities nationwide that serve general aviation.
The working group also recommended multiple locking systems to keep unauthorized persons from gaining access to aircraft; fencing, locks, lighting and other steps to control access to aircraft ramps, parking, hangar and fuel storage areas.
Developing communications procedures for law enforcement officers and airport users to follow in emergencies -- particularly during periods of heightened security -- was also a priority.
Many of the airports, which serve more than 275,000 general aviation aircraft, already have implemented at least some of the working group's recommendations.
The TSA has already taken steps to guard against unauthorized use of flight school or rental aircraft, required background checks for foreign pilots seeking a U.S. pilot certificate, and is working with the Department of Justice to track suspicious aircraft purchases.
Additionally, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has developed a nationwide Airport Watch program that includes a TSA-sponsored hotline for reporting suspicious activity.
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