Aviation Under Pressure
Recently I went through a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security line before boarding a flight to
Washington, D.C. I removed my shoes,
belt, and watch, and I still set off alarms.
Finally, I was allowed to pass through.
Afterward I thought—we may be
winning the war on terrorism, but at
what cost financially and to our freedoms? The TSA is only slightly more
than 7 years old, but already the cost
to maintain it and its proposed future
programs is astronomical.
The Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) and its TSA division crossed the cost-versus-benefit
threshold in proposing debilitating
security measures applying to all aircraft exceeding 12,500 pounds with
its Large Aircraft Security Program
(LASP). During the TSA’s public comment period, EAAers and others in
the aviation community objected
to its proposals. Requiring separate
review and authority for every single
flight that included passengers, the
LASP would impose governmental
review and authority before U.S. citizens could operate their own personal
vehicles. These proposals raise serious
questions about personal liberty, privacy, and freedom of movement.
EAA also warned that the high cost
of complying with the LASP would
significantly curtail or eliminate
numerous historic aircraft operations
that bring valuable inspirational and
educational benefits. This includes aircraft ranging from TBMs and P-47s to
Grumman Albatrosses. Furthermore,
we contended that the proposed
measures are both cumbersome and
unnecessary. They would misappropri-
ate TSA’s attention and focus, applying
disproportionately vast resources and
onerous oversight to a comparatively
limited area of risk.
The DHS has shown an inclination
to apply these types of restrictions to
all aircraft, not just those defined as
“large.” The U.S. Customs and Border
Protection, another division of the
DHS, has already imposed enhanced
security requirements on all aircraft
crossing our nation’s borders. The
phrasing of those rules made clear
the belief that all aircraft, regardless
of weight, are dangerous.
We must seize the right
opportunities to be
heard and, ultimately, to
influence the outcome.
For decades, EAA has dealt successfully with the Federal Aviation
Administration and elected officials
on your behalf. Now we must adapt
to a new challenge. The TSA wields
considerable power and influence on
aviation—while having little general
aviation expertise. Its directive is one-dimensional: security. We must foster
a better understanding of general
aviation and the ill effects of costly
restrictions. We must seize the right
opportunities to be heard and, ultimately, to influence the outcome.
This isn’t the only area where
aviation is coming under pressure…
public perception of business aircraft
has become a political “football.”
Congress is considering sanctions
against companies that own business
aircraft, attempting to make their
divestiture a condition of any finan-
cial stimulus package.