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DHS Finds Security Threat by GA "Mostly Hypothetical"

by John M. White |

The Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security has recently published a report that general aviation airports and general aviation aircraft present little threat to our safety. Terrorists are mainly interested in commercial aircraft which can be used to inflict serious damage such as that which occurred on 9/11. This report was greeted with cheers by the alphabet general aviation organizations who have long maintained that the perceived threat by the TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) were "overblown" and largely hypothetical in nature. Following are the key findings included in the 30-page study by the DHS-OIG:
  • "We determined that general aviation presents only limited and mostly hypothetical threats to security. We also determined that the steps general aviation airport owners and managers have taken to enhance security are positive and effective."
  • "The current status of [general aviation] operations does not present a serious homeland security vulnerability requiring TSA to increase regulatory oversight of the industry."
  • "Although [TSA's Office of Intelligence] has identified potential threats, it has concluded that most [general aviation] aircraft are too light to inflict significant damage, and has not identified specific imminent threats from [general aviation] aircraft."
Of course we recognize that this report does not mean general aviation can ignore the threat of terrorism, but it does blunt the effort by the TSA to micro-manage general aviation aircraft operations. Considering that general aviation accounts for over 75% of all US aircraft flights that means that the TSA would be best advised to keep its eye on the ball for threats against the major airlines and air carriers. Add to this that the Congressional Research Service found that general aviation aircraft could not carry enough explosives great distances and would likely be discovered by crews or airport personnel during the normal conduct of their duties. News reports of lax security at general aviation airports was largely caused by reporters walking out onto general aviation airports without any escorts, but did not take into account survellience measures and the fact that aircraft were locked or otherwise restrained from operation by pilots to protect against theft. This should be good news for general aviation, and pleasure pilots in particular, and hopefully help make people feel safer about learning to fly and participating in general aviation activities. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 ps: Be sure to watch for a new podcast series which will soon be offered on this web site called "Hangar Talk".  The first one is already in the can, and will be available shortly. Be sure to listen, you will find them interesting I am sure.

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