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Security Proposals Emerging for International Business Aviation Flights

By Ed Bolen, NBAA President and CEO

The business aviation community is international in scope, and when NBAA Members need to fly within the United States, or overseas, the security of their aircraft, aircrews and airports is always a top priority.

Nevertheless, in the years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the federal government has continued to explore measures for enhancing general aviation security, and increasingly, policymakers are focusing on flights into and out of the United States.

For example, late last year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began scanning all internationally arriving general aviation aircraft for illicit radiological materials. Under a separate CBP proposal in development, private aircraft operators involved in cross-border flights would need to electronically submit extensive information about the flight to a new CBP Internet portal (to learn more about this proposal, and the concerns NBAA has raised with CBP officials about it, see the “Security Spotlight” feature on the next page).

The Transportation Security Administration also has increased its focus on the security of international business aviation flights. Earlier this year, the agency began a proof-of-concept program at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and Shannon Airport in Shannon, Ireland that requires fixed base operators to check passenger and crew identification against official flight manifests for general aviation aircraft inbound to the U.S.

When it comes to these and other security proposals, NBAA is using every opportunity at its disposal to help policymakers appreciate the diversity of the business aviation community, and that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to security for the industry would be ill-advised.

As just one example of our efforts to familiarize policymakers with business aviation, NBAA utilizes the Association’s Annual Meeting & Convention to bring security officials to the Static Display of Aircraft for the event, so that manufacturers can demonstrate onboard security technology.

This and other efforts give federal officials a better understanding of the security needs for general aviation, and we have seen recognition from Department of Homeland Security officials that the industry requires a unique approach to risk reduction, one different than that for the airlines.

Of course, we will continue to work tirelessly in Washington with legislators and regulators to ensure that the particular needs of general aviation for both domestic and international flight operations are understood. We also will continue developing and sharing products and services for ensuring the security of Members’ flights, both in the U.S. and around the world.