Alaska Delegation Urges Transportation Security Administration to Postpone Large Aircraft Security Program

Washington, D.C. – Alaska’s congressional delegation today asked the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to postpone a proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) that would burden many Alaskan communities with high costs and reduced or completely eliminated aviation services.
The delegation is concerned that the proposed requirements would dramatically impact many Alaskan communities that are only accessible by air. Specifically, under the proposed program, “large” aircraft would be defined as an aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds. This would include a number of aircraft commonly used in Alaska, including some King Airs, Beachcraft 1900s and Casa 212s.
In a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, the delegation also questioned whether the level of  security threats in Alaska warranted such stringent new screening measures.
 “We cannot destroy the aviation industry in Alaska with ridiculous regulations, especially without any showing of a serious threat.  Further, we must remain vigilant as the TSA has made it clear they would like to impose further regulations on small aircraft,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. “This program will create unnecessary and costly mandates on Alaska communities which many cannot afford.”
“TSA clearly does not understand the huge economic burden this will place on rural Alaska communities and many Alaska air carriers,” Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said. “I cannot support this rule until significant changes are made to address our concerns.”
“While I understand the concerns of the TSA, this is not and cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ rule,” said Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska.  “Alaskans face many unique challenges including an insufficient road system that forces frequent air travel around the state.  These challenges need to be considered when applying a blanket rule, and I sincerely encourage TSA to address the concerns of the State of Alaska and reconsider their stance on this issue.”
The delegation also requested that the TSA convene a public hearing in Alaska before moving forward on the proposed screening measures.
“Alaska will be uniquely impacted by this plan,” the delegation said. “Many of our rural communities rely on aircraft covered by the proposed rules for essential passenger, freight and emergency services.  Unfortunately, the public meetings held on this rule were located in urban areas far from Alaska, preventing many of our constituents from having the opportunity to address the effects this rule would have on our way of life.”
Additional provisions of the LASP plan include:
· Fingerprinting and background checks for flight crews;
· Watch-list matching of passengers before flights;
· Creation of a security program that includes checking for unauthorized persons and prohibited items;
· Creation of a security program for any airport that regularly serves large aircraft with scheduled or charter service.
“Many of these communities lack airport personnel, local law enforcement or even the ability to issue a photo ID cards,” the letter said. “While the TSA suggests the public should think of the cost as $44 per flight, the upfront costs on small communities could be enormous.  The State of Alaska estimates compliance could cost $400,000 per community.”
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