Mission Creep


Last month in this space, I wrote about the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and its proposed rule to expand airline-style security measures to private (i.e., Part 91) operations of aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds. The new proposal was formally released October 30, 2008.

The proposed rule would require operators to assign a security director to oversee


flight operations, obtain TSA approval for a security program addressing every operation of the aircraft, submit fingerprints of all flight-crew members and seek government approval of each passenger for each flight. A copy of the full, 67-page proposal is available in PDF format at this address: tinyurl.com/5nxn55.

General aviations alphabet soup is expressing strong opposition to the proposal. Both AOPA and NBAA formally requested a comment-period extension, to 120 days, which the TSA granted. The new deadline is February 27, 2009.

The NBAA has assembled some additional resources, including an analysis and list of major concerns. Its available at this address: tinyurl.com/5anchg.

Meanwhile, EAA Vice President of Industry and Regulatory Affairs Earl Lawrence correctly noted the proposal raises “serious questions in the areas of interstate commerce, government authority, civil liberties, and Constitutional rights.”

Even if you dont operate an aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds, this proposal likely will impact you. Thats because it would require airports served by large aircraft to adopt security programs. This could mean any facility capable of handling a large turboprop or small bizjet must formally participate in a TSA security program.

Its important to note all of this is being proposed without the TSA identifying any real or perceived security threat posed by general aviation. Its a textbook case of seeking new roles for a bureaucracy: mission creep.

Nows a good time to add your voice to the growing opposition. Go to www.regulations.gov, use the docket number, TSA-2008-0021, and share your thoughts regarding this proposal. But be polite.

You need to do this. Right now.

Trading up

Unless youve been living under a rock-and some would say thats not a bad idea-the economys downturn is presenting some very good deals for those looking to buy big-ticket items like airplanes. My airplane has lost probably a third of its value over the last two years or so (but its not for sale).

Two downsides to the current market are credit availability and buying too much airplane. On the former, were hearing financing is available. For the latter, youll need some training, which should be readily available and perhaps cheaper. Youll need a flight review soon, anyway, right? Just do it.

-Jeb Burnside


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