Experts, however, doubt the practicality of such a tactic. Conventional sprayers
on crop dusters or air tankers that are used to fight forest fires, for example,
probably would not be very effective at dispensing biological agents. Mechanical
stresses in the spraying system might also kill or inactivate a large percentage
of particles--by some estimates, up to 99 percent. Nor could they carry
sufficient volume to conduct a significant chemical attack.
As a result, the most worrisome threat from general aviation comes from
using aircraft as a transportation platform. General aviation is a fairly
discrete means to move cargo in a short amount of time over a long distance, and
the security standards for travelers, particularly passengers, is much more lax
than for commercial airliners. While private pilots have their identities and
credentials checked on a regular basis, passengers may not be screened, even
when they fly internationally. On domestic flights, cargo is virtually never
inspected. Drug smuggling demonstrates the potential to exploit the general
aviation sector for illicit activity.
The study believes that the right solutions for making the skies safer
and maintaining a vibrant general aviation sector that has room to grow and
innovate requires principled proposals that address the threat in the most
efficient and cost-effective manner.
A new national general aviation security policy should consider a layered
approach. For example, security measures at flight schools, hangars, and
airports should be organized to screen for possible terrorists before they get
access to the skies. The best way to stop illicit exploitation of general
aviation is to keep malicious actors out of the cockpit. A security program that
works for corporate business jets would not necessarily be effective for small
Cessna planes or hobby aircraft. Programs must be tailored to different types of
aircraft, airfields, and aviation services.
The authors of the report feel that some of the new security measures
that have been established since 9/11 reflect principled security. Others do
One of the first security improvements was the "Airport Watch" program.
Airport Watch is a joint venture between the private and government communities
and was co-founded by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and
Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This partnership resulted in an
elaborate "neighborhood watch"-like program at thousands of local airports
nationwide: a network that includes over 650,000 pilots, as well as airport
officials, who serve as eyes and ears for observing and reporting suspicious
activity to state and local law enforcement.
"Initiatives like Airport Watch provide a decentralized network for
reporting security threats. By making the everyday pilot the eyes and ears at
his airport, it provides an additional layer of security on the ground. It is
also cheaper than training thousands of additional government security officers
and deploying them at airports around the country," the authors stated.
After 9/11, the private sector worked with the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) and the TSA to make flight training a more transparent and
secure process. The first step was advanced screening of pilot databases against
the TSA threat watch lists. This regulation was adopted on January 24, 2003, and
means that individuals who show up on TSA watch lists can have their
certificates suspended or revoked.
Another security measure created by many private flight schools applies
to foreigners who are training for pilot certificates. All foreign nationals
applying for flight training will now be subject to a Department of Justice
The most worrisome threat from general aviation comes from using aircraft as a transportation platform.
The Next Phase General aviation airports and businesses brace for tighter security By Jeff Price July 2002 About the Author Jeff Price is a consultant with...
Considering the Threat Georgia Airports Association president comments on GA security By Lee Remmel, A.A.E., President, Georgia Airports Association August 2002 About the...
NATA recommends that LASP be withdrawn.