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EAA Opposes TSA’s Proposed Rules for Large Aircraft in Comprehensive Comment Filing

GA community united on issue

February 27, 2009 — EAA today formally joined a large outcry from the general-aviation community when it filed comprehensive comments to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). EAA’s comments voiced strong opposition to the agency’s proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP). Today is the final day of the public comment period for this TSA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Although the document noted EAA’s “long and demonstrated history of partnership with regulatory agencies” and EAA’s “preference to work toward common solutions,” the commentary struck overriding notes of objection.

“These proposed unnecessary and heavy-handed security measures would place an unwieldy burden on personal aviation. Although we all support protecting our national security, we object to how personal aviation is being singled out and undeservedly maligned as a threat. The severity of the proposed limitations and requirements vastly outweighs any threat that the operation of our aircraft might pose,” said Earl Lawrence, EAA vice president of regulatory affairs.

As currently written, the LASP would require owners and operators of aircraft weighing 12,500 lbs. or more to obtain TSA permission to operate their personal aircraft every time they carry passengers in domestic airspace. Additionally, flight crews of such aircraft would be required to undergo fingerprinting and a background check, all passengers would have to be vetted against the government’s terrorist watch lists, a long list of common carry-on items would be banned, and numerous security requirements would be imposed on airports serving these “large” aircraft.

Although EAA’s comments contain numerous concerns on the grounds of feasibility, cost, and practical challenges, the defense of civil liberties is at the heart of EAA’s opposition. TSA’s proposed rules would for the first time require government scrutiny and approval before private U.S. citizens could use their own personal conveyance to travel throughout the country.

“EAA members and the broader flying public have grave concerns about the dramatic shift this proposal would have on the role government would play in the lives and freedoms of American businesses and families,” the document reads.

EAA’s comments assert dramatic consequences from the suppression of general aviation activity that the LASP would cause. Furthermore, they challenge the LASP on several matters of principle, with assertions that it:

  • contradicts the requirement in the agency’s mission statement “to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce”;
  • may exceed the agency’s legal jurisdiction;
  • is presented without supporting rationale and justification;
  • presents the possibility of grave socio-economic ramifications;
  • usurps fundamental American civil liberties;
  • opens the door to even more harmful regulations and policies; and
  • misappropriates the public’s governmental assets and energies dedicated to enhancing national security.

EAA and the entire general aviation community have united in opposition to the LASP. These groups have requested the formation of an Aviation Rulemaking Committee made up of their representatives and government officials to render advice and recommendations in a newly initiated regulatory process.

As EAA’s comment document asserts, the hope is to “contribute once again to a sound and defensible public security policy for general aviation.”

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