The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) welcomed House subcommittee passage of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administration Authorization Act of 2011, which would allow increased industry input toward airspace governance and other TSA policies impacting companies that rely on business aircraft.
“We commend the House subcommittee leaders for passing this legislation, which gives business aviation a greater voice in the security policies that impact our industry,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen.
The legislation passed out of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Wednesday by a 6–3 vote. If approved by the full House, the Senate and the president, the bill would create an Aviation Security Advisory Committee that would include a subgroup specifically derived from organizations representing general aviation.
Additionally, within a year of enactment, the bill would require the TSA to develop procedures and protocols to permit business aircraft operators access to airspace closed by temporary flight restrictions. Such airspace, usually surrounding a traveling dignitary and major sporting events, has for the past decade since 9/11 been closed to virtually all civilian traffic. The subcommittee’s bill calls for reopening that airspace to general aviation under some circumstances, as long as doing so does not affect security.
The measure also contains an amendment, included by Subcommittee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-8-AL), aimed at bringing consistency to the TSA’s use of “security directives” (SDs). That issue was the subject of a letter sent to Chairman Rogers on September 13 by a coalition of aviation groups including NBAA, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Air Transport Association, the Airports Council International, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and the National Air Transportation Association.
“We support your amendment to the Transportation Security Authorization Act of 2011 on the issuance of security directives,” the letter to Chairman Rogers states. “While we agree that TSA needs the ability to issue security directives (SDs), we believe that regulatory option should be strictly reserved for situations involving an immediate threat, as is stipulated in the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) and in current TSA security regulations. We do not believe that Congress intended to provide TSA such latitude that it could issue SDs absent an identified threat.”
“Security has always been a top priority for business aviation, and in the years since 9/11, the industry and government have collaborated on a host of measures to further protect against security vulnerabilities without jeopardizing mobility and flexibility,” Bolen said. “The measure passed by the House Subcommittee supports this effective approach to security policy, and we look forward to supporting its full passage by Congress.”