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EAA Calls on You to Comment on TSA Aircraft Security Proposal

November 20, 2008 — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is proposing new and sweeping security restrictions on general aviation aircraft. The proposal, known as the “Large Aircraft Security Program” (LASP), would affect aircraft with a maximum gross takeoff weight (MTOW) over 12,500 pounds.

EAA is urging its members to send comments to the TSA about the LASP. At the request of EAA and other aviation organizations, the TSA has extended the comment period for the LASP to February 27, 2009.

In brief, the LASP would impose the following requirements on every owner/operator of any aircraft over 12,500 lbs MTOW:

  • Require every owner/operator to assign a security director to oversee flight operations and to set up a TSA-approved security program, with an audit of the security program initially and every two years thereafter.
  • Require fingerprinting, and multiple background checks of all pilots and flight crew members, to be repeated every five years.
  • Require every owner/operator to submit the passenger manifest for each flight and to receive TSA clearance for all passengers prior to the flight.
  • Prohibit firearms and other restricted carry-on items from the cabin area unless the aircraft has a TSA-approved storage area.
  • Require some non-commercial airplanes to carry a federal air marshal, when instructed to do so by the TSA.

The LASP would affect an estimated 15,000 aircraft and 10,000 operators, plus thousands of pilots and flight crewmembers and an untold number of passengers. It would also impose many new security requirements on some 320 airports that TSA has identified as serving “large” aircraft.

But the long-term risk to general aviation (GA) is much greater than that. New security rules just finalized by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) apply to all private aircraft, regardless of weight, capacity, or type. The CBP’s new anti-terrorist rules make no distinction between a 747 and Cessna 172. LASP would put “a foot in the door” that could be extended later to cover all GA aircraft of any weight. (Read about the new CBP rules here.)

The Effects of the LASP on General Aviation

  • It would place substantial cost burdens on aircraft owners and operators and on the airports that serve them—TSA estimates total costs up to $190 million per year, most of it paid by owner/operators.
  • It could significantly curtail or eliminate many historic aircraft operations and programs, including EAA’s B-17 tours.
  • It threatens to undermine fundamental liberties and privileges of U.S. citizens.
  • It could represent only a first step in a broader security policy that would risk suffocating the nation's valuable general-aviation activities.
  • It would be misdirected, applying disproportionately vast resources and onerous costs and restrictions to a comparatively limited area of risk.

Under the LASP, the TSA’s regulatory activities would be extended for the first time to personal GA aircraft, historic and vintage aircraft, and operators, passengers, and pilots flying for personal and business use. This is a radical departure from anything the TSA has enacted to date. It would, in effect, require governmental review and authority before you could operate your own personal vehicle.

It would require separate governmental review and authority for every single flight that included passengers. Nothing like the LASP has been imposed on cars, trucks, boats, or any other privately owned, privately operated vehicles. The TSA’s proposal raises serious constitutional questions about personal liberty, privacy, and freedom of movement.

Limiting the LASP to aircraft over 12,500 lbs is a just convenient line in the sand. The LASP would certainly open the door to similar security restrictions on virtually every GA aircraft and airports — all in the name of security. And as a means of reducing the threat of terrorism, the LASP would be misdirected, unwarranted, unconstitutional, and ineffective.

Learn more about the TSA’s proposed LASP

Visit http://www.eaa.org/govt/tsa.asp

There you’ll find an in-depth analysis of the proposed “Large Aircraft Security Program, along with links to the TSA’s 260-page NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) and the TSA’s list of Prohibited Carry-On Items, along with instructions for submitting your comments to the TSA.

Send your comments to the TSA

Your voice can make a difference. Please take a few minutes to send your comments on the proposed LASP (with a copy to EAA). The deadline for comments is February 27, 2009.

How to submit a comment:

To request an extension of the public comment period, refer to Docket No. TSA-2008-0021, “Large Aircraft Security Program, Other Aircraft Operator Security Program, and Airport Operator Security Program.”

  • By Mail, In Person or Fax to the Docket Management Facility, US Dept. of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington DC 20590-0001. Fax 202-493-2251.
  • Electronically through the Federal eRulemaking portal at www.Regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

To follow all the public comments to the TSA security proposal, visit the docket site located on www.Regulations.gov.

Your EAA Membership, one of 160,000 members in 112 countries, gives EAA and its Government Relations Staff the credibility and the resources to analyze and publicize issues like the TSA proposal, and to advocate effectively on your behalf, working with local, state, and national agencies and elected officials.

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