DHS Report Downgrades GA Security Threat

The terrorist threat of light GA aircraft has been compared to "marshmallows thrown against a windowpane." Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General office agrees. In a report issued last month the DHS office wrote: "We determined that general aviation presents only limited and mostly hypothetical threats to security." We in the aviation community have been saying this for years. In this week's Web Exclusive, Flying Senior Editor Robert Goyer says that GA is vindicated by the report. The DHS report apparently takes issue with some within its subsidiary, the Transportation Security Administration. According to DHS, though the TSA Office of Intelligence "has identified several organizations that have shown an interest in using GA to obtain flight training or to launch attacks … most GA aircraft are too light to inflict significant damage." Nor does DHS place much credence on the threat of crop dusters dispensing poisonous chemical agents. Still, GA leaders responded to the report by, again, calling on all pilots to continue their vigilance when it comes to potential threats to national security from light aircraft. Rather than relaxing, now is the time to remind ourselves to remain aware of suspicious activity at our airports, and execute an action plan should such activity be observed. AOPA President Craig Fuller said, "We have always done our part and will continue to do so." As pointed out by Robert Goyer in last week's Web Exclusive, a rental truck makes a much more practical vehicle for terrorists intent on deploying weapons of mass destruction-as demonstrated by the domestic terror attack on the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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