May 15, 2011 By Kerry Lynch
The departure this month of Brian Delauter, the Transportation Security Administration’s general manager of its general aviation branch, is raising questions about the fate of some key TSA initiatives affecting GA, such as the rewrite of the proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) and expansion of gateways at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). Delauter is expected to leave the agency May 23 to take a corporate security position in the private sector in Nashville.
General aviation officials say the departure will leave a gap at TSA. GA leaders have long complained that they received the “crumbs on the floor” in terms of TSA resources, since the agency had been consumed by pressing issues such as baggage screening, cargo security and ever-present terrorist threats. But that changed in the summer of 2009 when Delauter took control of the general aviation branch.
He brought with him a rare combination of general aviation experience (he was a Hawker 1000 pilot for NetJets), commercial airline experience (a first officer for Northwest Airlines) and knew his way around the agency. He joined TSA in 2002 as a stakeholder liaison and later served as a federal security director at Georgia’s Savannah International Airport.
Delauter wooed industry leaders with his collaborative approach. Just months into his job managing the GA branch, he convened a new general aviation advisory panel and said, “We’re going to be 10 times more successful in partnership than … being combative back and forth to each other.”
Delauter helped oversee the rewrite of LASP, which is apparently complete and in intra-agency review, saw to changes in the international waiver program and made it his “open goal” to improve business aviation’s access to DCA. Those efforts were beginning to pay dividends. Signature Flight Support President Michael Scheeringa noted in February that flights at Signature were averaging 1.2 per day and quipped that was up 40% from nearly a year ago.
But TSA had further refined the process for accessing DCA beginning in March, and on one day late last week, nearly a dozen aircraft were either at or due into DCA’s sole fixed-base operator, Signature Flight Support. Scheeringa adds that both TSA Administrator John Pistole and Delauter have been “very, very helpful.”
“We applaud the fact Brian Delauter walked his talk,” says Mary Miller, VP and government affairs for Signature. “The net result for our industry is that his respectful but no-nonsense pressure on his own bureaucracy has actually produced more sensible ways of dealing with security issues. We will miss him.”
“We’re sorry to see Brian leave – he brought an incredible degree of industry perspective to the agency when it needed strong direction on GA security,” says Doug Carr, VP of safety, security and regulation for the National Business Aviation Association. “The security improvements he advanced were not only reasonable – they just made plain sense.”
“Brian Delauter has been the single most important individual at TSA in terms of our industry,” adds National Air Transportation Association President and CEO James Coyne. “To have somebody who really, really knows GA like Brian did – it’s a staffing home run for our government.”
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association President Craig Fuller agrees, calling the selection of Delauter for the post “an excellent decision,” adding, “We are hopeful that Administrator Pistole will build on the relationships Brian developed with the general aviation industry and pilots by finding a successor with a similarly strong GA background.”
“While his energy, determination and expertise will be missed, the capable team that we have in place will move forward until a successor is named,” says John Sammon, TSA’s assistant administrator for transportation sector network management.
It is uncertain how long the general aviation manager’s position will be open, but TSA is believed to have some prospects for a successor in mind.
Source: AVIATION WEEK