Risk Reduction Steps Have
Strengthened General Aviation Security
Based on threat assessments conducted by OI and other federal intelligence agencies, as well as the heightened awareness of aviation vulnerabilities since September 11, 2001, TSA has identified practical, targeted measures to lessen risks in the aviation sector.10
TSA requires GA facilities that train pilots to conduct name checks for non-U.S. citizens seeking flight training. TSA has the authority to direct the FAA to immediately suspend, revoke, or refuse to issue licenses to pilots who pose a national security threat. TSA requires screening for GA aircraft operators who request access to restricted airspace, such as airspace in high-risk urban areas or near key infrastructure. TSA also conducts routine inspections of flight school providers, operators of heavy aircraft, and private charter operations.
The Aviation Security Advisory Committee reviewed GA airport security and concluded that nonfederal stakeholders have taken extensive voluntary measures to limit security vulnerabilities.11 Measures range from pilot awareness programs and guidelines for flight schools to assisting airports
in developing security plans and assisting businesses in identifying inappropriate airplane purchase offers. GA operators also may implement TSA guidelines that provide owners, operators, sponsors, and other entities responsible for oversight of GA airports with a set of federally endorsed security enhancements and a method for determining when and where these enhancements may be appropriate. Examples include securing aircraft against unauthorized access, verifying identity of all passengers, and documenting that all baggage and cargo is known to the occupants of the aircraft. TSA has established strong lines of communication and working partnerships with industry stakeholders, which in turn enable the GA industry to obtain, assess, and provide security programs and policies to address security vulnerabilities. Industry stakeholders told us that areas for improved communication remain, and cited the recent release of Security Directive 8F. Little information about the directive is available as a result of the directive’s classification as sensitive security information. Because of this classification, information about the directive is not available to many of the affected owners, operators, or their employees. Another result of the classification of the directive is that there was no public comment period for the proposed rulemaking.
Appendix C describes the actions that nonfederal stakeholders have taken.
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