Feds proposes air passenger, cargo security rulesFeds proposes air passenger, cargo security rules
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration announced proposed rules Thursday that would require most air cargo and passenger plane operators to meet stringent security rules similar to those now imposed on mainstream airlines.
The rules propose implementing a Large Aircraft Security Program that would impact operators of general aviation planes of more than 12,500 pounds of maximum takeoff weight and cargo planes with a maximum takeoff weight of more than 100,309 pounds.
Cargo planes affected — now covered by the TSA's 'private charter' security program — would include any plane roughly larger than a Boeing 727 or an Airbus A300. The new rules would not apply to operators of smaller cargo liners such as DC-3s, DC-9s, or MD-90s. The passenger group would include most currently produced business jets, save for a handful of small four- to six-seat makes and models.
'With limited exceptions, TSA has not required security programs for large aircraft in general aviation. Corporate aviation, with a population of approximately 10,000 operators flying 15,000 aircraft, is largely unregulated for security purposes. Yet many of these aircraft are of the same size and weight of the air carriers and commercial operators that TSA regulates, and they could be used effectively to commit a terrorist act,' said the 260-page TSA document set to be published shortly in the Federal Register.
The new rule would be based upon the core requirements of the TSA's current Twelve-Five Security Program, which requires TSA background checks of pilots and restricted access to the flight deck for aircraft of more than 12,500 pounds maximum takeoff weight but under 100,309 pounds.
Major requirements that general aviation aircraft operators would be required to adopt under the Large Aircraft Security Program include:
' Ensure flight crewmembers have undergone a fingerprint-based criminal history records check.
' Conduct watch-list matching of passengers through TSA-approved watch-list matching service providers.
' Undergo a biennial audit of compliance by a TSA-approved third party auditor.
' Comply with cargo requirements for the Twelve-Five all-cargo program if conducting an all-cargo operation.
' Screen passengers and their accessible property for aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of over 100,309 pounds operated for compensation or hire.
' Check property on board for unauthorized persons.
The TSA has five different programs covering different segments of the general aviation fleet: a full program, the full all-cargo program, the partial program, the private charter program, and the Twelve-Five program.
'Instead of five separate security programs that would apply to large aircraft operators depending on the type of service they provide, TSA is proposing one security program that would apply to all large aircraft operators (except certain government operations) and would replace the current security programs,' said the TSA proposed rules.
The proposed Large Aircraft Security Program regulations face a 60-day public comment period. Once completed, and following any revisions, the rule would be officially implemented.
TSA implementation plans for the LASP divide the country into five areas, taking into account which areas of the country contain the largest affected populations of aircraft operators and airport operators.
TSA officials anticipate six phases of compliance, with each phase targeting about 20 percent of the large aircraft operators and airport operators that do not hold TSA-approved security programs. The sixth and final phase would include aircraft operators that hold a TSA security program.
The following timeline for compliance would start upon the effective date of the final rule:
' Phase one, Mid-Atlantic region, months one through four after the effective date of the final rule.
' Phase two, Northeast region, during months five through eight.
' Phase three, southern region, months nine-12.
' Phase four, Midwest, months 13-16.
' Phase five, western region, months 17-20.
' Phase six, existing security program holders, months 21-24.
The phase in which a large aircraft operator would fall would be determined by where the aircraft is based. For large aircraft operators that have multiple bases for their aircraft, the phase would be determined by the location of the large aircraft operator's headquarters.
The new rules can be viewed at www.tsa.gov/assets/pdf/nprm_lasp.pdf. ' Keith Higginbotham