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NBAA2013 Security Review Will Outline Continuing Progress Made on Security Concerns

October 11, 2013

Careful relationship building between NBAA, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has resulted in a number of improvements in business aviation access during the past year, and the leader of the NBAA Security Council said the stage is set for more progress in the coming year.

“This is a good indication that government is working with us,” said Security Council Chairman Greg Kulis. “The relationship we’ve developed has become one of cooperation with our public sector. Folks at DHS [the Department of Homeland Security] are engaging with us. They consider our viewpoint, we consider theirs. We’re working together for solutions that meet both our needs.”

Southern Border Overflight Program

Kulis said he is especially gratified by progress made in the Southern Border Overflight Program. After two years of negotiations between NBAA and CBP, aircraft arriving in the U.S. from below the southern border are no longer required to stop at specific airports close to that border.

Also, operators are no longer required to send a list of passengers to the government for approval as much as 30 days in advance.

“That defeated the flexibility and utility that are the hallmarks of business aviation,” Kulis said. “Now, with the remarkable improvements under the Southern Border Overflight Program, participating operators arriving from airports south of 30 degrees latitude can land at any U.S. airport with the proper CBP facilities, as long as landing rights have been obtained.” That alone, he said, saves U.S. operators thousands of landings and takeoffs every year which translates into huge cost savings.

DCA Access

Improved access to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) is another issue where the ongoing relationship-building effort between government and business aviation is paying off, Kulis said.

In the past year, eight more airports – Anchorage, AK (ANC); Boca Raton, FL (BCT); Bozeman, MT (BZM); Fresno, CA (FAT); Oklahoma City, OK (OKC); Melbourne, FL (MLB); and Pittsburgh, PA (PIT) – have been added to the list of 78 gateway airports already approved by government officials to serve as facilities from which direct flights to DCA can be launched under the DCA Access Standard Security Program.

“There have been other major improvements,” Kulis noted. “Operators can now swap out the aircraft at the last minute. Crew changes can be made at the last minute, and if a passenger wants to delay the flight at the last minute, the TSA is likely to approve that with no problem. All that makes the approval process easier and improves flexibility in the DCA arrival process.”

The armed security officer (ASO) requirement remains in effect, Kulis pointed out, which can make business flight into the nation’s capital more expensive and difficult to arrange. But, he said, there’s a proposal he believes may bring some much-needed relief to business operators headed to DCA.

“The ASO program is not likely to go away completely, but we have suggested alternative solutions for flights involving “known” passenger groups. TSA seems receptive to our proposals and we have plans to move forward with the initiative, he said.

Private Screeners

Another issue considered problematic by business aviation operators has been the requirement that passengers on aircraft headed to DCA must be screened by TSA agents. It is often impractical for TSA agents to hop in the car and drive miles to a GA airport to screen one or only a few aircraft, then drive all the way back to the airports where they’re stationed, explained Kulis.

“But we’re in the final stages of working with the TSA to implement a program that would allow airports and operators to hire their own screeners,” he said. That will allow an entirely new group of airports to become DCA gateways, resulting in even greater access to the Washington, DC facility.

NBAA Security Review

NBAA Members will have an opportunity to receive an extensive, interactive briefing on these and other security and border issues at the 2013 Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA2013) in Las Vegas.

The panel discussion takes place at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22. For more information, visit the NBAA2013 website.