Large Aircraft Security Program Unveiled

This morning, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) unveiled its much-anticipated proposed rule that will govern operations for all aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds and require those operators to implement an approved security program. The proposed security rules, titled the "Large Aircraft Security Program," for the first time impose security programs on thousands of privately operated general aviation aircraft and ultimately seek to combine a number of security programs currently in place for general aviation, including the Twelve-Five Standard Security Program, into a single, uniform program.

In November 2007, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff introduced the Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) at NATA's Aviation Business Roundtable in Washington, D.C. Prior public comments by TSA officials, as well as information provided by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), explained that the new security program will require operators of aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight of more than 12,500 pounds to obtain and implement the TSA's Large Aircraft Security Program. This is the same category of aircraft that today must comply with the Twelve-Five Standard Security Program if used in air charter operations. The proposed rule, if adopted, will apply to privately operated aircraft.

Late last week, the OMB gave its approval for the TSA to publish the proposed rule for public review and comment. In a conference call this morning, TSA officials briefed NATA and other industry groups on the proposal, and the agency has posted a copy of the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on their Web site for early review prior to publication in the Federal Register.

According to the TSA, the proposed rule seeks to require:

-- Flight crewmember criminal history records checks and security threat assessments

-- Watch list matching of passenger manifests

-- Basic aircraft security procedures

-- Security training for flight crewmembers

-- Designation by each aircraft operator of a Security Coordinator

-- Biennial third party audits of each aircraft operator

-- New security requirements for reliever airports and other airports that service large aircraft

"We have been eagerly awaiting the release of the Large Aircraft Security Program for some time," explained NATA President James K. Coyne. "We are currently reviewing the content of this new, ground-breaking security measure, and we look forward to continuing our work with DHS and TSA officials to ensure that the LASP's makeup appropriately addresses legitimate security concerns while recognizing the unique operating tendencies of the general aviation industry."

The LASP NPRM has a 60-day comment period. NATA staff are currently reviewing the proposed rule and will provide a comprehensive analysis of the new security program shortly, in addition to submitting comments on behalf of the membership.

NATA, the voice of aviation business, is the public policy group representing the interests of aviation businesses before the Congress and federal agencies.

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