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Group Proposes Changes to TSA's GA Airport Security Guidelines

February 19, 2013

A working group comprised of 16 representatives from general aviation organizations, including NBAA, recently submitted its list of proposed revisions to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security guidance for general aviation (GA) airports.

The General Aviation Subgroup of the TSA Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) submitted its recommendations Feb. 14 to revise the original Security Guidelines for General Aviation Airports document published by the agency in 2004.

The guidance is a list of voluntary guidelines and recommendations for GA airport owners, operators and users to address aviation security concepts, technology and enhancements. Once published, the new document will be the first revision to that guide since its initial publication.

"There were a variety of factors to consider," explained Doug Carr, NBAA vice president for safety, security & regulation, who also serves as co-chair for the GA subgroup. "The group spent the past six months reviewing the existing guidelines and making updates that better aligned with current TSA policies and the best practices of GA operators."

Among the topics reviewed by the working group was an increased focus on security guidelines for flight school operations, as well as improved airport fencing and the use of gated access and closed-circuit television feeds to monitor ground traffic into secure areas.

Carr also noted that in recent years TSA has placed greater emphasis on security procedures at fixed-based operations (FBOs.) This includes the agency's 2009 directive for security screening and the issuance of personnel badges to allow general aviation pilots operating from airports with commercial airline service unescorted access to secureto secure areas.

"There were also some guidelines in the 2004 document that we questioned whether they were still relevant today," he added. "That said, for the most part the guidelines remained largely intact.

"We're largely talking about tweaks to the existing guidelines, rather than wholesale changes," he added.

The changes suggested by the working group are now under review by the TSA, with the final version of the revised guidelines expected to be published in a few months. Carr does not expect the final document to include any substantial changes from the draft proposal.

"We will continue to review this guidance in the future," he concluded, "to ensure that the interests and concerns of general aviation and business aviation pilots remain adequately addressed in our shared goal with TSA to improve security at general aviation facilities."

The ASAC evolved from the original Civil Aviation Security Committee, which was formed in the wake of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1989. In addition to its consulting role on determining new policy, the group also gauges feedback from aviation businesses and organizations on the effectiveness of existing TSA practices and recommends improvements where necessary.