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June 1 TSA Security Directive Deadline Stands

EAA Continues to Urge Withdrawal or Modification

May 28, 2009 — EAA has been urging the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to withdraw or substantially modify Security Directive 1542-04-08F, commonly referred to as “8F”, which would require background checks and photo identification for any pilot needing unescorted access to participating airports that serve commercial airlines. But during a conference call with industry organizations this week, TSA reaffirmed the Monday, June 1 deadline for final implementation.

Although TSA initially delayed the deadline by several months, there has been no substantive rewrite of the policy or change in direction by TSA in the interim. EAA has actively opposed 8F since its release late last year, drawing attention to its profound operational impact on general aviation activities at airports with any level of commercial air carrier service.

Under the TSA mandate, a separate badge would be required for each airport where unescorted access is required. In addition, pilots not holding a badge for a particular airport would need to be escorted to and from their aircraft by approved ground personnel.

EAA has expressed grave concern for the impact 8F will have on pilots with multiple bases of operations; after-hours transient aircraft operations; self-fueling operations; and other normal airport activities. Implementation is at the discretion of each airport, resulting in a patchwork of differing requirements and remedial procedures. TSA has repeatedly assured the general aviation community that transient operations will not be impacted by the new procedures; however EAA has ample evidence that this is not the case.

“Since the initial release of 8F, EAA has received numerous calls and e-mails from members who have experienced restrictions and outright refusal to access their aircraft when away from their home airport,” said Doug Macnair, EAA vice president of government relations. “We have heard horror stories, of airport personnel erroneously refusing access, lack of an available escort, and of pilots having to scale airport fences or otherwise circumvent supposed security measures just to gain access to their personal aircraft. If pilots and aircraft owners aren’t supposed to be on general aviation ramps, we don’t know who is.

“EAA has repeatedly called for a common sense approach to TSA’s stated need for increased security at general aviation airports with commercial operations,” Macnair continued. “If TSA insists on increasing the cost and complexity of access to general aviation airports for authorized users then the agency must recognize that pilots need unrestricted access to any general aviation airport in the country. However, they cannot possibly obtain IDs for every airport they might visit, nor can they be aware of each airport’s specific security procedures, requirements and exceptions that might govern transient operations.”

EAA has repeatedly called for the FAA airman certificate to be enhanced to include a photo ID. This, along with TSA watch lists matching of airmen should be the basis for pilot access to any general aviation airport in the country, obviating the need for redundant and expensive airport-specific IDs and procedures. To date, this seemingly common sense, cost-effective and practical approach has been rejected or placed into the category of a long-term goal to be achieved.

In Conflict With Air Commerce Act?
Aviation organizations have also been raising awareness of 8F and its impact on general aviation operations with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), pointing out the serious implications the directive raises for unrestricted access to federally funded public use airports. EAA asserts that TSA’s proposed restriction of unescorted access to general aviation airports is a violation of the federal grant assurances that govern funding of airports. The FAA initially agreed with this view and that the TSA directive may be in conflict with the Air Commerce Act. High-level discussions are just beginning between FAA and TSA on this matter.

According to TSA staff, the agency is in the process of coordinating a revision to the security directive and that some general aviation concerns will be addressed in the forthcoming revision. No timetable has been given for the release of these revisions, in the form of directive 1542-04-08G, and there is little evidence that EAA’s core objections and concerns are being addressed.

Last week, EAA and four other general aviation groups, sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano urging withdrawal of this controversial airport security directive and an opportunity to work with TSA to find workable solutions for addressing their apparent security concerns. EAA has also been active on the Hill raising the issue with Congress and backing an amendment to the TSA Authorization Bill aimed at curtailing the Transportation Security Administration’s issuance of regulations and security directives using emergency procedures thus bypassing the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).

As EAA continues these efforts and awaits a response from DHS Secretary Napolitano we encourage members who have had first hand adverse experiences as a result of this new directive to write their Congressional Representative and Senators to explain their issues and share their personal experiences. Please remember to send a copy to EAA at govt@eaa.org.

 “We continue to press TSA on this issue and the impact it is having on general aviation,” said Macnair. “We will not give up and will continue to fight on behalf of our members to seek a process that meets TSA’s security objectives and does not interfere with our freedom of flight and access to airports nationwide.”

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