TSA to Extend Airline Screening to GA at Expense of Aircraft Operators

Amendments to current aviation security regulations have been proposed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to expand airline style screening to include corporate and private general aviation operations. TSA’s proposal, the Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP), will apply to general aviation operators of “large” aircraft with a maximum certificated operating weight above 12,500 pounds.

General aviation operators will be required to:

  • Ensure that their flight crew members have undergone a fingerprint-based
    criminal history records check.
  • Conduct watch-list matching of their passengers through TSA-approved watchlist
    matching service providers.
  • Undergo a biennial audit of their compliance by a TSA-approved third party
  • Comply with the current cargo requirements for the twelve-five all-cargo program
    if conducting an all-cargo operation.
  • For aircraft with a MTOW of over 45,500 kilograms operated for compensation
    or hire, screen passengers and their accessible property.
  • Check property on board for unauthorized persons.

TSA’s program will also require reliever airports and other airports that regularly serve scheduled or public charter flights to adopt a security program.

The new security measures are based on “TSA’s belief that aircraft of this size pose a potential risk,” according to the LASP docket.

LASP has whipped GA pilots into a fervor. Robert Mark summarized the issue on Jetwhine.com.

Think of TSA’s idea as imposing a severe and highly unnecessary financial burden, a one-size fits all kind of security choke hold on an industry that survives through its ability to be hundreds of different things to the thousands of people who use business and general aviation. Or you might think of the TSA’s proposal as one sure to drive a stake into the heart of an already wounded industry. That means don’t expect much help here from anyone in the airline industry. Do we have your blood pumping yet?

Another Happy Passenger

Another Happy Passenger

The Department of Homeland Security released a privacy impact assessment for the proposal on October 2, 2008. “[the privacy impact assessment] also clearly illuminates that they intend to not only collect passenger information for the purpose of comparing against the watch list (which is their stated cause) but that the information about private air travelers will be maintained and shared with any other law enforcement or government agency that wants it,” said one pilot in an internet forum.

The new program is expected to cost $1.4 over the next ten years. At this rate, the total cost per flight for the LASP program is $44. According to the TSA, 85 per cent of the costs will fall on GA aircraft operators.

On projected costs, aviation author and 2008 flight instructor of the year Max Trescott had this to say on his blog:

That’s just the out of pocket cost. What about the decline in general aviation activity that’s likely to occur? When it does, the cost per flight is certain to rise. So while it might cost $44 now, it’s not inconceivable that 5 years from now it would cost a pilot $100 in TSA fees for the privilege of being searched before he or she flies a plane.

TSA is currently accepting written comments on the proposed amendment. The deadline for comments is February 27, 2009.

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About the author
Pat Flannigan is a professional pilot and aviation blogger. He has been flying for fifteen years and is currently working as an airline pilot in the United States.

One Reply to TSA to Extend Airline Screening to GA at Expense of Aircraft Operators

  1. If this passes, aircraft operators are going to be red in the face. It is defeating one of the purposes of owning/chartering your own aircraft. TSA’s logic is break what already works.

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