EAA Opposes Planned Restrictions on GA
November 9, 2007 —Even though personal general aviation has been deemed to not be a national security risk time and again by numerous federal agencies, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) strongly hinted Monday that the its long-term strategy aims to manage GA like commercial airliners. EAA is opposing that strategy.
The DHS feels that a discrepancy exists between general aviation security and airline security and wants more restrictions on GA. EAA will continue to oppose restrictions that are overreactions to the threat level GA poses.
In a recent NPRM, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) proposed a passenger and crew security vetting process that requires pilots to submit a passenger manifest at least 1 hour before flight - submission of which must be by computer. EAA fundamentally understands the need of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and DHS to obtain more complete information regarding private aircraft entering the territorial United States, and that this regulatory initiative is in direct response to a mandate from the U.S. Congress. As such EAA does not outright oppose the intent of this rulemaking proposal.
"However, EAA does not feel that the procedures for private aircraft and their pilots as outlined in this proposal in any way takes into account the actual operational environment encountered when personal use aircraft are used for the conduct of international flights," said Doug Macnair, EAA vice president of government relations.
Historically, personal general aviation border crossing flights to/from Mexico and Canada fly to/from remote and often unimproved landing facilities, such as grass strips and lakes. Because these locations frequently do not have reliable telephone or cellular coverage, requiring the Internet to submit passenger security notifications to DHS would be an extreme hardship to GA.
"The requirement for electronic data submissions of arrival and departure notifications and manifests completely ignores the practical reality of international flight in general aviation aircraft," Macnair said. "The idea that submissions must be made and approvals returned via electronic data means is completely out of the question."
Other elements of the DHS security proposal for GA:
Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP)
The TSA is engaging in efforts to establish a security program for GA operators, including corporate and private operations, to make them consistent with existing security programs for commercial aircraft of similar size.
Secure Fixed Based Operators
TSA is also working with the industry to develop a program where overseas FBOs voluntarily provide additional security for U.S.-bound flights. The program would allow FBOs to check manifests against CPB's electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) to better identify the flight crew and passengers on board GA aircraft.
TSA is partnering with Signature Flight Support to establish a pilot program at several locations that serve as a last point of departure into the United States. EAA is encouraged by the public/private sector partnership to improve security and believe that the broader application of such programs will provide robust security while maintaining operational flexibility for general aviation operators. DHS aims to have Anchorage, Alaska, and Shannon, Ireland, up and running by the end of the year.
EAA will continue to monitor these security programs as they are developed to work to ensure that a comprehensive system can actually work in the real world, taking into account the many and varied GA mission profiles.