TSA Has a Record-Keeping Process for “Incidents of Concern”




TSA Has a Record-Keeping Process for “Incidents of Concern”

Although security experts throughout the federal government and the GA industry have concluded that risks inherent in GA are limited, TSA and the industry have introduced numerous targeted security measures to reduce the industry’s vulnerabilities. They have also introduced procedures for documenting and responding immediately to potential security incidents. Specifically, TSA coordinated with AOPA to establish the General Aviation Hotline and the Airport Watch Program.

The hotline, developed in partnership with the National Response Center at TSA and in coordination with AOPA, is a centralized reporting system for GA pilots, airport operators, and maintenance technicians to report suspicious activity at their airfield. The hotline was developed to complement the AOPA Airport Watch Program. For each program, incidents are reported to TSA’s Transportation Security Operations Center (TSOC), where reported incidents are logged into a database. After an analyst evaluates the information, TSOC may contact the appropriate authorities to alert them to potential danger.

Our review of incidents reported to TSA indicates that the GA industry is using the GA Hotline and Airport Watch Program appropriately, but that incidents that might represent a security threat are rare.

One recent incident that could have had security implications, but did not, took place on April 22, 2008. It involved a private charter aircraft with one passenger flying to the United States from abroad. The aircraft arrived in the United States without having previously filed an International Airspace Waiver with TSA and FAA.12 The aircraft departed from Germany, made a refueling stop in Iceland, and continued on to Chicago. Federal officials met the flight. The pilot was notified that he had not filed an International Airspace Waiver with the FAA. A TSA transportation security inspector placed a ground hold on the aircraft until the proper paperwork was filed and clearances obtained. TSA told us that the incident was detected through the Automated Detection and Processing Terminal (ADAPT).

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