DCA Access Standard Security Program (DASSP)

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Government Eases Access to DCA; Webinar to Provide Details

NBAA Flight Plan intervew with NBAA's Doug Carr

February 27, 2012

In the decade since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011 changed so much about security around important government sites, nowhere in aviation have those changes been so apparent and burdensome as they have been at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).

“But TSA has rolled out a number of initiatives to make it more flexible,” said Doug Carr, NBAA Vice President for Safety, Security and Regulation.

Carr was referring to the DCA Access Standard Security Program (DASSP), the details of which he once called “so onerous that they add up to a de facto prohibition on access to the airport.”

Over the last year, however, rules surrounding general aviation flights to and from DCA have changed significantly, Carr said.

“They can now swap out crew members at the last minute. They can alter arrival and departure times. There are new FBOs and portal airports taking part in the program almost every week,” he explained.

“We are seeing substantial increases in the number of operators participating in the program – year-to-year increases of up to 70-percent.”

Carr attributed many of the changes to the dialogue between TSA officials and NBAA’s Security Committee.

“We’ve been very pleased with the work that the TSA and the committee have done together,” he said.

Almost in the same breath, though, Carr elaborated on the challenges that remain for business operators under the DASSP.

“The TSA still needs to do checks on passengers, so last-minute changes to passenger manifests are not allowed. TSA still does physical screening at departure points, but not with X-ray machines. That’s still done with hand wands,” he said.

But perhaps the most invasive requirement continues to be the mandatory inclusion of an armed security guard on flights into and out of DCA. Carr said NBAA Members are actively exploring options to use company employees rather than security contractors to guard flights into and out of the airport.

The evolution of rules governing access to DCA is the subject of a free NBAA webinar, “Operating into DCA: Improved Process Increases Activity.” It takes place on Feb. 29th, 2012 from 1:00 PM to 2:15 PM ET. Get more information and to register to participate in the webinar.