TSA Proposal Greeted With Concern by GA

TSA wants to regulate bizav with some serious security rules. What's in store and what can pilots do about it?

Years in the making, the latest security initiative from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been unveiled. The Large Aircraft Security Program will regulate private operators of business jets weighing 12,500 pounds or more. Jets of this size constitute a large percentage of the private bizjet fleet.

The regulations require compliance from operators of Part 91 airplanes weighing more than 12,500 pounds, which is the starting weight for transport category airplanes and a seemingly very low cutoff. Operators will be required to conduct criminal background checks on its pilots, check the names of passengers against the agency's watch list, implement biennial program audits, appoint security officers and more. The TSA already has in place security regulations covering Part 135 charter operations. Those regulations, and others, would be rolled into the newly proposed program, which would also require additional security measures at many airports around the country that aren't already affected.

The reception from member organizations has been critical. Several were quick to note the financial burdens that would accompany the regulations. These include paying for compliance, including meeting requirements for crew training, oversight and third-party audits. At the same time, some, including the National Air Transportation Association, the National Business Aircraft Association, and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, all had serious questions about the potential effectiveness of and the need for many of the proposed regulations, especially since many of the requirements are already being met with lower-impact, industry-developed methods.

Moreover, because the people flying on Part 91 airplanes are well known to the operators-they're typically company principals-the need for such intensive security regulations in Part 91 operations seemed not just a burden but a pointless one to every operator with whom we spoke on the subject at NBAA.

The proposal, published in early October, was open for public comment for 60 days.