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EAAers’ Battle For Rights And Privileges Continues

January 22, 2009 — EAA’s regulatory affairs representatives are urging the EAA community not to relent in opposing the Transportation Security Administration’s proposed security requirements for operating large aircraft. In fact, they’re urging members to ramp up their efforts with communications to their representatives in the House and Senate.

Although statements and actions from the Obama administration suggest the possibility of new avenues of advocacy and debate, the public comment period’s Feb. 27 deadline remains unchanged and the TSA has indicated that it will continue with the rulemaking process until instructed to do otherwise.

A new outlook?

“We’re encouraged by the principles that the Obama administration is articulating as it assumes office, and particularly by the administration’s call for a suspension of regulatory initiatives pending further review by the new staff and President,” said Doug Macnair, EAA’s vice president of government relations based in Washington, D.C. “It suggests that the administration intends to marry current regulatory work with its philosophy of government.”

Macnair elaborated on this philosophical bent, citing comments from the President’s inaugural address: Mr. Obama said on Tuesday, “As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals…Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.”

“Certainly, this comment is broad and may allude more directly to other contemporary events,” Macnair said. “Nonetheless, any discussion about refusing to sacrifice our American ideals in the name of safety and security also should apply to the TSA’s proposed limits on aviators’ civil liberties.”

A challenge to the affordability, the societal contribution, and the freedom of flight

Since the TSA unveiled its proposals last October, EAAers have been at the forefront of the general aviation community’s opposition to the proposals’ stringent scrutiny and restrictive limits on the operation of all aircraft exceeding 12,500 pounds. In correspondence to TSA and in the TSA’s three public hearings on the matter thus far (two more are scheduled), EAAers have asserted that the proposed restrictions would unjustifiably single out aviation; would impose unnecessary costs; would stifle considerable commercial, charitable, educational, and recreational aviation activity; and would misappropriate our national security resources toward an overestimated threat.

Perhaps the greatest concern, however, has been the civil-liberties implications. If implemented, the TSA proposals would for the first time require advance governmental review and authority before a person could operate his own personal transportation conveyance. These requirements would include fingerprinting and performing background checks on all flight crews, vetting passengers against the government’s terrorist watch lists before every flight, and imposing numerous and costly security requirements on airports serving “large” aircraft.

A call to action

In each of the three public hearings that the TSA has conducted on this issue, EAA representatives and other attendees have urged the agency to establish an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) to study the issue in greater depth and render recommendations to the agency. The concern is that, not having and aviation-oriented charter or focus, TSA does not fully understand the ramifications of its proposals.

In the meantime, your EAA Government Relations representatives believe Congress must be alerted to the aviation community’s cause and the economic and civil liberties issues that are at stake.

Please contact your representatives in The House and Senate.

To write a letter to your representatives in the House and Senate, use the following links:

House of Representatives
Put your zip code in the Find Your Representative search block, then follow the links to your representative’s mailing address.

Senate
Select a state to bring up your senators. The mailing address appears directly below the senator’s name.

Here are some talking points that summarize the EAA community’s concerns. Please relate these to your own circumstances and put them in your own words:

  • These comments are in response to the TSA LASP
    Docket No.TSA-2008-0021.
  • [Introduce yourself and briefly relate your connection to aviation.]
  • The unnecessary and heavy-handed security measures proposed by DHS and its TSA division would strangulate 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.

  • We object to the LASP because:
    • It would significantly curtail or eliminate numerous historic aircraft operations that bring valuable inspirational, educational, and entertainment benefits to society;
    • It threatens to undermine the fundamental liberties and privileges of U.S. citizens;
    • It could represent only a first step in a broader security policy that would risk suffocating the nation’s valuable general-aviation activities; and
    • It would misappropriate TSA’s attention and focus, applying disproportionately vast resources and onerous restrictions to a comparatively limited area of risk.
  • War-veteran aviation enthusiasts are struck by the incongruity between the values and liberties that they fought to defend and the government’s attempts to severely limit their freedoms today. Some of these individuals have been flying around the country in restored aircraft that defended our freedoms, using the aircraft to tell their story, share their history, and inspire Americans to understand the value of the freedoms for which veterans fought and sacrificed. Ironically, the proposed restrictions and requirements would strip these same individuals of the freedoms for which they had fought.

Please remind your friends in the aviation community to join with EAAers in rallying behind this cause.

 

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