Department of Homeland Security
Office of Inspector General
General aviation refers to all
flights other than scheduled airline flights and military aviation. General
aviation accounts for 77% of all flights in the United States and is a vital
component of the national economy. It includes the very large air cargo
transport sector, air medical-ambulance operations, flight schools, corporate
aviation, and privately owned aircraft. General aviation activity frequently
takes place alongside scheduled airline operations at large commercial airports,
as well as at more than 5,000 public use airports, almost all of which serve
general aviation exclusively.
This review was conducted at the request of Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection, House Committee on Homeland Security. Our objectives were to identify Transportation Security Administration
security requirements for general aviation airports, threats to general aviation, measures taken to secure general aviation, steps nonfederal stakeholders have taken to enhance the security of general aviation, and any “incidents of concern” with security at general aviation airports. In addition, we evaluated allegations of security vulnerabilities at three Houston-area general aviation airports. These allegations were presented in an investigative report by a local television station.
We determined that general aviation presents only limited and mostly hypothetical threats to security. We also determined that the steps general aviation airport owners and managers have taken to enhance security are positive and effective. Transportation Security Administration guidelines, communication forums, and alert mechanisms, coupled with voluntary measures taken by the owners and operators of aircraft and facilities, provide baseline security for aircraft based at general aviation sites. Significant regulation of the industry would require considerable federal funding. We are not making any recommendations to the Transportation Security Administration regarding general aviation regulations. The Transportation Security Administration reviewed our report and submitted many helpful technical corrections, but chose not to submit formal comments that would have been appended to the report.
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