SECURITY SPOTLIGHT

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Washington Agencies Remain Focused on GA Security NBAA Voices Concern Over Proposed Rules

While security experts agree that general aviation (GA) is not a threat to national security, Washington regulators – particularly those at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) – remain focused on enhancements to general aviation security.

In a recent development, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), requiring business aircraft to submit additional aircraft passenger, owner and operator information prior to departing from or arriving in the United States.

This step marked the first time the CBP used the rulemaking process, which allows members of the general aviation industry to comment and potentially influence the development of the final policy, expected to be released at the end of November.

According to the DHS, the NPRM is an indication of the administration’s willingness to work with operators to develop security measures that are effective, yet minimally intrusive to business practices. While NBAA and the general aviation community commend DHS officials for their willingness to take input from industry, the Association nevertheless has concerns about the CBP proposal in its current form.

For example, the amount of information provided to the federal government by aircraft operators entering the U.S. would more than triple. Operators currently provide about 10 pieces of information on passengers, the owner and the operator before entering the U.S. But the CBP proposal calls for 34 pieces of information to be submitted an hour before aircraft cross the U.S. border. This measure alone is expected to impact about 400 operations each day, not including helicopter operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

Additionally, operators would be required to use a specific Internet portal to transmit the information, whereas today, the information can be relayed through numerous forms of communication, including from the cockpit radio.

"While the general aviation community supports security enhancements, NBAA is troubled with the potential impact of proposals like these, especially on small businesses," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. "The level of information required for each arriving aircraft could pose technological challenges for operators, and the time requirements associated with security clearance may be excessive."

According to DHS officials, the proposed CBP rules make up the first of a two-part plan for general aviation security enhancements. Although the TSA has yet to set a release date for the second set of proposed rules, that document is said to focus on security measures at an aircraft’s last point of departure, and is expected to include both regulatory mandates and advisory guidance.

NBAA has set up tools for members of the business aviation community to respond to the proposed CBP rules, and will do the same to help NBAA Members communicate with the TSA about its NPRM, when it becomes available. "We intend to convey our concerns and feedback about the proposals to the agencies, and we strongly encourage NBAA Members to do likewise," said Bolen.