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9/11, Ten Years Later: A Time For Increased Flight-Line Vigilance

September 9, 2011

Hear an NBAA Flight Plan podcast interview with NBAA Security Committee Chairman Greg Kulis.

As Americans solemnly commemorated the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the FBI and Transportation Security Agency issued an advisory highlighting the need for continued vigilance and offering guidance and resources for reporting suspicious activity. At the same time, FBI representatives have been quick to point out the effective security measures GA has in place.

“We’re asking the general aviation community to remain vigilant for any unusual activities – any individuals who may not fit into the airport environment,” said FBI Agent Stephen Emmett.

Emmett, who is also a pilot for the Bureau, was quick to add the general aviation community has done a “great job” of maintaining airport security in the past. “It continues to do a good job of securing the airport environment. But it’s no surprise that al Qaeda has targeted the aviation community in the past as a means to attack our infrastructure,” he pointed out.

Kulis, a business aircraft pilot and chairs the NBAA Security Council, agrees. He pointed out the many improvements he said have taken place at FBOs and business aviation operations throughout the country.

“The days when a business aircraft would be sitting on an FBO ramp with the doors open are long gone. I look around an FBO ramp now and I see a secure environment with access control systems. I see aircraft with their doors closed and locked. I see great strides, great improvement over the past ten years,” Kulis said.

The increased vigilance often goes against the tendencies of aviators who have, in the past, welcomed visitors with open arms.

“We need to know who we’re speaking with,” Kulis warned. “The time has passed when somebody could just show up in the parking lot and ask to be shown around.”

Kulis said the FBI warning to general aviation operators is a good reminder to use the security equipment and protocols put into place over the past decade. Don’t forget, he said, to use the video monitoring equipment – to actually look at the monitor before opening the door. Remember to keep doors closed and locked where necessary. Report all strangers and those who behave strangely to the authorities.

More security regulations are on the way, Kulis advised. “That will be put out by TSA soon and directed at the business aircraft industry. However, I believe that new regulatory effort will be much more applicable to the business aviation industry than we’ve seen in the past.

“I feel good going forward,” he continued, “that NBAA... has a good working relationship with the regulatory authorities. They’re engaging us and we’re working carefully with them to develop security initiatives that both serve a legitimate purpose and apply to the industry that they’re designed to serve.”