Delegation Reacts to Report on General Aviation Security

The Report Supports the Delegation’s February 2009 Letter Objecting to TSA’s Proposed Large Aircraft Security Program as Disproportionate with the Actual Threat

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The Alaska Delegation responded today to a recent finding by the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security that General Aviation poses little risk to aircraft security. 
In a report entitled “TSA’s (Transportation Security Administration) Role in General Aviation Security,” the Inspector General’s office concluded, “We determined that general aviation presents only limited and mostly hypothetical threats to security.” 
The report notes that TSA and the General Aviation industry have taken positive and effective steps to enhance security, but must remain vigilant.  However, according to the report, “The current status of GA operations does not present a serious homeland security vulnerability requiring TSA to increase regulatory oversight of the industry.”  In light of this report, the Alaska Congressional delegation renewed its call for the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider the proposed TSA rules on general aviation, as the negative consequences seem to outweigh the potential threat.
In February 2009, the Alaska Delegation objected to the TSA’s proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP), saying, “Our primary concern is that this plan’s far-reaching effects have not been properly weighed against potential threats.  We fear the LASP plan may drastically impact the lives of our constituents with little security gain.” 
The proposed regulations would ban from the aircraft cabin many commonly transported items, such as hand tools and legally-required survival gear, thereby restricting the flow of basic necessities to isolated communities.  Additionally, the regulations would require fingerprinting and background checks of pilots, watch-list matching of passengers and aircraft screening.  The State of Alaska estimated compliance could cost $400,000 per community.  The comment period on the proposed regulations has closed, and the TSA is due to publish a revised proposal or final rules.
“This report further substantiates my concern that the TSA’s new regulations needlessly threaten our vital aviation industry,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski said.  “I hope that the TSA will keep these findings in mind when developing security rules for general aviation.”
Senator Mark Begich added, “General aviation is essential to transportation in our state.  We are not opposed to security improvements, however, any new regulations should not be overly burdensome to Alaska’s general aviation community.”
Rep. Don Young said, "Across the board regulations are not the answer here. What works in states in the Lower 48 will not work in Alaska where general aviation is essential to the survival of some smaller communities. I hope that TSA will closely examine this before making further determinations."