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TSA Gives Inside Look at Major Security Initiatives

October 12, 2011

It's not everyday that business aviation professionals have the opportunity to talk face-to-face with officials at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), but one well-attended NBAA2011 session provided just that chance – and generated a robust two-way discussion between operators and regulators.

Representing the TSA were Doug Hofsass, deputy assistant administrator for Transportation Sector Network Management (TSNM), and Kerwin Wilson, acting general manager for general aviation. With responsibility for both policy and industry engagement, Hofsass and Wilson are two officials with "real insight into the interactions we have with TSA on a daily basis and the real-time operational mission profile we have," said NBAA's Doug Carr, vice president for safety, security & regulation.

A Revised LASP

Hofsass explained that a recent realignment of divisions within the TSA will bring the agency closer to Administrator John Pistole's focus on risk mitigation rather than risk elimination. Most importantly for business aviation, Hofsass said the agency is working on a revised Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) that will have a new name when re-released for comment, ideally by the end of this year.

Noting that business aircraft operators – including NBAA's Security Council – helped in re-crafting the program, Hofsass said, "This rule is going to make a lot more sense and it's really good security."

Access to DCA

Wilson discussed the TSA's efforts to expand the access program for Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), the DCA Access Standard Security Program (DASSP). "When we took over the program in February, there were approximately 97 approved operators and 45 FBOs," said Wilson. "It's now October and we've increased that to 133 operators and 89 FBOs at 64 gateways."

By listening to operators who use DCA, Wilson's office was able to make key changes that have further improved the DASSP. Those include allowing operators to change the tail number or flightcrew manifest they submitted within two hours of departure instead of 24 hours, and giving operators more flexibility with their screening time if passengers are running late.

Because of the TSA's efforts working alongside industry, "we've seen an increase of general aviation operations at DCA of 50 to 60 percent," said NBAA Security Council chairman Greg Kulis.

Presidential TFRs

Carr kicked off the session by asking if the TSA is working to lessen the impact on general aviation operators of temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) due to the president's travel schedule. "Yes," said Wilson, especially in light of the anticipated travel for the 2012 presidential election. "So what we did was start putting together a 'POTUS TFR Mitigation Plan.'" The plan calls for TSA, the Secret Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense to work together to standardize the procedures for presidential TFRs. The rough goal, said Hofsass, is to set up an access gateway whenever a TFR will be in place for more than 12 hours.

Hofsass and Wilson also addressed questions from participants about screening for private charter flights, airport credentialing and cargo screening.

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