By Mary Gardy
January 10, 2011
NBAA and NATA have both responded to claims in the current issue of The Atlantic magazine that private aviation is a “public menace” due to inadequate security safeguards. In his commentary, Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg says anyone who is rich enough, including a terrorist, can “buy [their] way out of airport security.” Eric Byer, vice president of the National Air Transportation Association, called the piece “outlandish,” with conclusions based on the writer’s “ignorance of general aviation security.” NBAA President Ed Bolen sent a letter to The Atlantic, calling the story “sensationalist.” A “host of initiatives” are in place to protect GA against terrorist threats, Bolen said.
“In fact, contrary to your writer’s assertion, we in general aviation have long prioritized security, and have worked effectively with government officials to implement measures that enhance security without needlessly sacrificing mobility,” Bolen said. Goldberg had previously written about his efforts to test TSA security while traveling on the airlines, where he found that it was relatively easy to thwart many of the rules. Fellow Atlantic correspondent James Fallows, who flies a Cirrus, said in his blog that he plans to write about “the small-plane ‘menace'” soon, and added that he’d like to take Goldberg flying and explain to him “why his worries about the terrorist threat from small airplanes are unfounded.”