The Next Phase
General aviation airports and businesses brace for tighter security
By Jeff Price
About the Author
Jeff Price is a consultant with Denver-based Av i a t i o n Manage-ment C o n s u l t i n g Group. He has served in airport management at Jefferson County, Stapleton, and Denver Interna-tional Airports, and is a former member of the Colorado Aeronau-tics Board. He also teaches aviation management part time at the Metropolitan State College of Denver. He can be reached at jprice@aviationmanage-ment. com or (303) 792-2700.
AAAE Submits GA Recommendations
The American Association of Airport Executives in June delivered its recommendations for security at general aviation airports to John Magaw, head of the Transportation Security Adminis-tration. AAAE is calling for establishing four categories of GA airports for security purposes, based on runway length, location, and number of based aircraft.
Central to the association's plan is creation of a new source of dedicated federal funding for GA airports to use for implementing any mandated security regulations.
AAAE calls for preparation of a comprehensive security plan at all four classes of general aviation airports.
NATA Signs On Airport for Smart Card
The National Air Transpor-tation Association recently signed on the Stuart Airport (FL) to use its new SkyGuard employee identification program that will be used for some 500 employees of the airport and tenant companies.
SkyGuard is a biometric smart card that includes a color photo and biometrically imbedded fingerprint and is used for gaining access to secure airport areas.
Stuart is a general aviation facility north of West Palm Beach.
FlightSafety was the first company to sign on with SkyGuard, which was officially introduced earlier this year.
airports and airport businesses have the opportunity to take an ounce
of prevention and hopefully hold off any debilitating and possibly unnecessary
Obstacles to regulating GA airports are significant. The Transporta-tion Security Administration already has its hands full with airline screening issues, tight Congressional deadlines, and hiring 40,000 people in a year. GA airports are not regulated specifically in the Code of Federal Regulations, and most experts agree that GA airports are not likely terrorist targets. The concern regarding general aviation is more about access to aircraft rather than protection of a specific GA facility or site.
We all know how quickly the government can add regulations when they want. They don't always ask for our permission, nor do they even need to have a good idea of how they're going to enforce them, fund them, or interpret them. They just need one ambitious senator - or worse, a devastating terrorist attack using general aviation aircraft.
"If they were to do any regulating of GA airports, they would have to come up with a scheme on how to do it for all of the facilities that are used by GA, from Chicago O'Hare down to a private grass strip," says Craig Williams, director of safety and security for the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE).
Williams believes the FAA/TSA will initially stay focused on those areas they already control. "They're going for the low-hanging fruit, figuring out how to regulate airspace, pilots, and aircraft. You can cover a lot of bases doing that."
Without getting too deep into the technical aspects, the real threat of general aviation aircraft is mostly in the larger planes that can carry either a lot of fuel or haul a lot of explosives.
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