TSA Backs Off on Badge Requirement; But Check Ahead, Anyway

Last Friday, the Transportation Security Administration enacted a new security directive, SD-8G. The new measure replaced one that was much more restrictive, and would have required transient pilots to undergo separate background checks and acquire security badges for every airport they might visit that also has commercial airline service. (Estimates place the number of such airports at around 400, but the TSA has not yet published a list, and the criteria have not yet been made known.) Under terms of SD-8G, which took effect on Monday, transient pilots need not acquire a badge, but are advised to remain close to their aircraft and leave its 'footprint' only for trips to and from the FBO. The TSA is expected to establish guidelines for self-fueling facilities and emergency situations. Pilots based at airports with airline service will still be required to undergo background checks and get security badges in order to walk unescorted around the airport-or areas of the airport designated as sensitive (no clear direction on those criteria yet, either). Airports can apply to TSA for an alternative security measure, which would enable them to forego the badge requirement. Pilots are advised to call ahead to airports they think might have airline service and assure themselves they are in compliance with the new TSA directive. For Mark Phelps's firsthand experience on Day One of SD-8G, see this week's Flying Tip.