Aviation Groups Fight Airport Badging Rule
July 27, 2009
  • Share
  • By Kerry Lynch

    Five aviation associations last week made another appeal to the Department of Homeland Security to scrap a Transportation Security Administration security directive that would require badging and background checks for all personnel with unescorted access to secure areas of commercial airports. The appeal came as the industry faces a June 1 deadline to meet the requirements of Security Directive 1542-04-08F (SD 08F).

    In a May 19 joint letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, the associations said the changes in SD 08F “do not take into account the unique nature of general aviation operations, and therefore may present serious issues to regulated airport operators.” The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, National Association of State Aviation Officials, National Air Transportation Association and National Business Aviation Association all signed the letter to Napolitano.

    GA operations typically do not follow a regular schedule and often involve last-minute itinerary changes. “Since many of these operations may occur during hours when airport or airport tenant staff is unavailable to act as escorts, operators may be unable to access their aircraft,” the associations noted, adding the only other option would be for operators to obtain badges from every regulated airport they might need to visit. “Even if an operator only anticipated ever needing to visit half of those facilities, the administrative burden would overwhelm operators.”

    The TSA’s only response to the concern, the associations said, was to work with the individual airport operators since they are the regulated party. Airports have options of developing alternate means of compliance, but “the resulting patchwork of ‘alternate means’ would likely create far more problems than it would solve,” the groups said.

    The associations also expressed concern that the regulatory changes were issued as a security directive, bypassing the federal rulemaking process. “Many of the problems with the regulatory changes in SD 08F could have been avoided had the TSA chosen to implement them using the federal rulemaking process allowing those most familiar with the intricacies of general aviation operations to provide their comments,” the associations said. “Because of the seriousness of the &issues, we would like to see TSA withdraw SD 08F and initiate a required rulemaking process to implement a change of this scope.”

    “Because the TSA never consulted the people who know the most about general aviation, it developed a set of requirements that ignore the realities of general aviation flying and the need for access at airports,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs.

    TSA released the SD in December, originally establishing a March 1 compliance deadline for the largest airports and April 30 for others. The agency in February pushed back the deadline until June.

    Date: 2009-05-26