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TSA Official Updates NBAA Members on Security Initiatives
ORLANDO, FL, October 8, 2008 – Michal Morgan, general manager of the general aviation (GA) branch of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), updated business aircraft operators on the agency’s general aviation security programs during a Tuesday afternoon Information Session held at NBAA’s 61st Annual Meeting & Convention (NBAA2008).
Morgan started by assuring Attendees that the TSA realizes that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to aviation security. She also said the agency “clearly understands” that operators are willing to adopt additional security measures, but that they do not want those procedures to adversely impact their daily operations.
The TSA, along with other federal agencies, are working on several programs to mitigate the risk of GA airplanes being involved in a terrorist incident. Morgan said the agency is working hard to develop measures that are “operationally feasible” as part of its Large Aircraft Security Program, which would apply to airplanes weighing more than 12,500 pounds. She said that once the proposal is released to industry, her agency would welcome feedback because “not all expertise is in house.”
Morgan also disclosed that in the near future a few more fixed base operators (FBO) would be added to the “Secure FBO,” a voluntary proof-of-concept program in which FBOs will leverage existing security practices at foreign locations. Two FBOs – one in Shannon, Ireland, and another in Fairbanks, AK – are currently participating in the program.
Addressing operator concerns that security programs of various federal agencies and international entities may not always be coordinated, Morgan said the TSA hopes to align its programs with those of other agencies. She cited as an example the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Advance Passenger Information System (APIS), which requires operators to electronically transmit to the agency passenger and crew manifest information in advance of arrival or departure in the United States. She also noted that TSA officials recently attended a conference in Kiev in order to better coordinate security efforts with the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Other new domestic GA security efforts include Positive Pilot ID, a trial program designed to confirm the identity of aviators at the controls of an aircraft in flight. The program, which could start by year-end, would seek to validate the use of certain communication channels – such as the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) and satellite data link – to confirm that a pilot flying an aircraft is who he says he is. The pilot program would run for 60 to 90 days, and several NBAA Member flight departments have already volunteered to participate.
Another new development was the publication in September of “security action items” for aircraft operators and FBOs. Most of these recommended best practices were included in the TSA’s GA security guidelines issued in 2004, but they have been amplified and reorganized to make them easier for operators to follow.
NBAA’s Doug Carr, vice president of safety, security & regulation, who moderated the Security Update session, provided operators with some good news. He predicted that within the next six to 12 months, we will likely see a number of security proposals from the Department of Homeland Security that will directly affect business aviation operations. He noted that the access granted under the TFR that was imposed during the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul in September was “a large step forward.” That was made possible through application of procedures developed under the DCA Access Standard Security Program for Washington, D.C.’s Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Carr encouraged operators to continue to follow the security best practices listed on the NBAA web site, to get to know their local federal security director and not be afraid to use the national security hotline (866- GA-SECURE).
Steve Saflin, the incoming chair of NBAA’s Security Council, concluded the security update briefing by assuring operators that his group will continue to pursue access to TFRs that is equivalent to that granted Federal Aviation Regulation Part 121 carriers.