During Secretary Napolitano’s first appearance before the House Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA) performed an important service. He pointed out that legalistic “one size fits all” homeland security requirements don’t make sense. Rigid compliance enforced without exception and not viewed through the lens of common sense can sap the credibility of DHS in the eyes of the American public and at the same time fail to enhance security.
This past Monday, I attended a Blogger’s Roundtable with Secretary Chertoff and TSA Administrator Kip Hawley to discuss aviation security initiatives. While the Secretary’s prepared remarks focused on the flurry of activity the Department is doing with General Aviation security (which I think is a step in the right direction), the discussion soon drifted to the usual set of issues – Secure Flight, Registered Traveler, shoe screening, unionization of screeners, transition activity, lines at airports ….and the list goes on.
Earlier this month, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) unveiled its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the regulation of general aviation (GA) aircraft in the U.S. While TSA and DHS have been talking about the need for increased security measures for GA for several years, the reality of the NPRM is hitting the GA community hard (and it should be). To date, TSA regulates but a small portion of the GA community – roughly 650 operators. TSA’s proposed NPRM would increase the regulated community to roughly 10,000 operators. A 65% increase in regulated parties is obviously significant.
Let’s be clear – TSA screeners are not law enforcement officers. They are not certified inspectors. They do not require access to crime scenes and they are not equipped or trained to respond to law enforcement incidents. They only special access they require is to certain areas of airports – for which their TSA badge and credential provides them access.