On Thursday, June 9, 2005, at 11:00 a.m. in room 253 of the Russell Building, the Full Committee will hold a hearing to review general aviation (GA) security, the Transportation Security incursion that caused the emergency evacuation Administration's proposed plan to reopen Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to GA operations, and to examine the security procedures followed during the recent air of the White House and the U.S. Capitol buildings.
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U.S. Senator Ted Stevens
June 9, 2005
Chairman Stevens Opening Statement
Commerce Committee Hearing on General Aviation Security and Operations
I welcome the witnesses here this morning. I will state to you that I was in an undisclosed location and witnessed the items we are going to be reviewing on a classified basis. I don’t want it to be indicated that I’m commenting on what I saw or personally heard that morning. We do thank you for your willingness to appear. I personally want to applaud the Transportation Security Administration for its recent proposal to reopen Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to general aviation flights, and to TSA’s commitment to begin working on a plan to allow similar access to recreational general aviation flights as well. I believe that action is long overdue and I do thank TSA for your hard work. I also want to commend TSA, FAA, DHS, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Capitol Police and others involved in agencies that are pertinent to this hearing for their actions in responding to the recent unauthorized airspace incursion that resulted in the evacuation of the White House, the U.S. Capitol Buildings, and the U.S. Supreme Court. While there are areas that can be improved to make the air threat assessment and response procedures more efficient, for the most part, the system worked. Today’s hearing is meant to discuss TSA’s plan to reopen Reagan Airport, and to examine those things that went well during the recent air incursion incident and to discuss the things that may need improvement. Chairman Stevens – Witness Q&A Chairman Stevens: First, let me apologize on behalf of myself and the Co-Chairman for starting this hearing late. We were with the Chinese Members of the U.S.-China Parliamentary Conference and they did not depart from that meeting until just before 10:30 a.m. So, we’re sorry to get started late. Again, I apologize. Now, I am a pilot of sorts and I was interested in the fact that this plane that we’re talking about on May 11th was really a fairly slow moving plane. And, I agree with you, as I indicated before, that the system worked. But, would it have worked if that had been a high-speed jet? Mr. Fleming: Yes, sir, I believe it would have. Different procedures are taken into consideration. A slow moving aircraft, squawking 1200 around the boundary of the ADIZ is a fairly normal occurrence. A fast-moving aircraft inbound to the ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone), not identified, not talking, and not squawking would be highly unusual and would raise suspicion much earlier – 60 miles to 100 miles out. Chairman Stevens: When we had the situation of the Kentucky airplane, it did just that. And, it was almost through the airspace wasn’t it, before it was really intercepted? Mr. Cirillo: In the case of May 11th, we identified the aircraft. We followed correct procedures. In the case of the Governor of Kentucky correct procedures were not followed. Chairman Stevens: Tell me how you’ve changed those procedures so that wouldn’t happen again. Mr. Cirillo: We’ve done a number of things. We have provided equipment to the people in the NCRCC (National Capitol Region Coordination Center) so that they have the same picture as the people in the air traffic control facilities. We’ve done training so that the identification of an aircraft without a transponder, even if it contains a data block, is clearly identified and also we have clarified coordination responsibilities relative to that incident. Chairman Stevens: Well, how far out of the zone would you intercept a high-speed jet that was not squawking at all? Mr. Cirillo: I have to defer that to… Mr. Fleming: That would completely depend on the situation sir, but certainly a number of individuals, whether it’s DoD, FAA, and CBP-AMO (Customs Border Patrol -- Office of Air Marine Operations) are watching that air traffic within a hundred mile radius, a hundred fifty mile radius. Chairman Stevens: He came in from Kentucky and he wasn’t squawking at all, anytime. What’s our procedure for intercepting such a plane? Mr. Fleming: Actually, his transponder, sir, was malfunctioning so it did squawk just enough to pass the identity to FAA’s system and so it was an intermittent transponder. It was working and it was recognized, was captured by the FAA system. Since then we’ve been able to correlate the two systems that were not in one location and very soon after the Governor Fletcher incident, that system was installed at the TSOC (Theater Special Operations Command), which would eliminate the possibility of that sort of failure happening again. Chairman Stevens: One last question, Mr. Fleming, for you, your proposal for the reopening of the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, as I understand it says that general aviation aircraft would have to have onboard an armed law enforcement person. Now some of those aircraft are not very large and the proposal requires that the aircraft, its crew and passengers and baggage must be screened at the airport from which it departed. Now, why do you need an armed law enforcement officer on a small plane if you’ve had those four procedures complied with? Mr. Fleming: Yes, sir, in an effort to ensure that the security level afforded to GA are commensurate with those of commercial aircraft, many of these smaller GA aircraft or corporate jets do not have the ability to have a hardened cockpit door, meaning that, despite the fact that we’ve done background checks on the individuals, there’s no physical barrier in many aspects between the passengers and the actual pilot. That’s why we recommended that law enforcement personnel be onboard to ensure that there is physical barrier between the cockpit and the passengers. Chairman Stevens: Well, we all fly from time to time on general aviation. Where are you going to find a supply of those people to fly in from these airports that general aviation planes enter? They have to land somewhere on the circle outside of the Capitol, don’t they? Mr. Fleming: Yes, sir. Chairman Stevens: That’s the screening procedure without regard to where they came from. If I come in from Seattle, I’m going to land at an airport before I land at Reagan, right? Mr. Fleming: That’s correct, sir. Chairman Stevens: And, I’m going to go through a second screening procedure. I’ve gone through one in Seattle, but I’m going through another one now. I’m the pilot of a small general aviation jet and I’ve got seven, eight passengers, alright? I’m going to have to take one of them off to put on a law enforcement person. Is that right? Mr. Fleming: If you were to do that, sir, when you submitted your plan to fly into DCA, there would typically be no screening at the Seattle end of things. Your screening would occur at that gateway airport. Chairman Stevens: I’ve got news for you, in almost every one of the general aviation fixed-based operators, you go through screening now. I haven’t left any one of them recently where we haven’t gone through screening. So, they’re aware that there is a new standard for general aviation, but what I’m saying to you, is it looks to me like you’re going to take a passenger off those general aviation planes to put on a law enforcement person. How do I get one if I’m coming out of Seattle? Mr. Fleming: We’re working on a plan now, sir, that we think will provide access to various law enforcement officials, as well as security officials, working very closely within the Department to coordinate the training requirements for individuals so that we can have a fairly large community of people to draw from to fulfill that job. Chairman Stevens: Well, I hope you take a good look at what you’re doing because being on those planes is not cheap to start with and if I’ve got to pick up a law enforcement guy somewhere, say, in Kentucky or in Ohio and bring him in here, then I’m going to have to send him back. The person chartering those planes is soon going to be deterred from chartering a general aviation plane. I think that burden is too great to put on a law enforcement person and I’d rather see you hire 10 people and put them at the fixed-based operator and make them search them getting on board, whatever you want. But, that concept of putting a law enforcement officer on and then having the duty to get him back to where he came from, man, I think that’s a burden that’s just going to kill general aviation in terms of private charters that want to terminate here in Washington. As a matter of fact, I think there’s no question they won’t terminate there. They’ll take us to Philadelphia. They’ll take us to New York. They’ll take us to somewhere in Virginia and let us off. They’re not going to go through this and you’re killing the very thing we want to do and that’s simulate rapid access to Washington for those people who are coming in and going out the same day. Chairman Stevens: I have one other question for you, if I may, and that is for Mr. Cirillo. I have some question about the delay in giving the all clear. You know, until you give the all clear, we stand out in the street and that was a considerable delay on May 11th. What have we done to change that so that the all clear will be put into the system and if it’s really not a crisis the government can go back to work in Washington, D.C.? Mr. Cirillo: Actually, sir, the FAA provides all available information relative to the status of the flight, but does not actually issue the all clear. We provide it to the appropriate law enforcement agencies so that they may determine the status of the threat level. Chairman Stevens: Well, who is going to be responsible for giving the all clear? Mr. Cirillo: Am not actually sure who is responsible for giving the all clear. Chairman Stevens: Mr. Fleming? Mr. Fleming: Sir, if I may, the all clear being given as far as evacuation procedures are concerned would be given by the agency tasked with the protection of that particular building. Our goal within TSA and within the Department is to make sure that they have the accurate information of the incident as it occurs so that they can make that assessment. Chairman Stevens: That’s not what we were told and I was in the secure location. Believe me, our people waited until you gave the all clear and that was a considerable amount of time. I think that has to be looked at, because we leave these buildings, the Supreme Court left their buildings, the President left his building, everyone left their building and we’re out there until we get an all clear from somebody and it was very unclear who had the authority to give the all clear. I think that must be cleared up and we request that you notify this Committee: what is the procedure for determining all clear.
U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye
I want to thank Chairman Stevens for holding this hearing today to focus on a number of issues that we have been following regarding General Aviation (GA) security. This hearing is a very timely opportunity to examine the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) recent announcement of plans to reopen National Airport (DCA) to GA operations, as well as last month’s incursion of the National Capital Region’s prohibited airspace by a private GA aircraft which led to the second evacuation of major Federal offices in less than a year. The GA community has a significant presence in most regions of the country, and plays a vital role in many of them. In the State of Hawaii, GA aircraft have a tremendous impact on the local economy with internationally acclaimed air tours, and they provide a critical resource in addressing transportation needs for isolated locations. Still, the nation’s Federal intelligence agencies continue to identify GA security as a potential loophole that terrorists have considered using or may still be able to exploit. Warnings like these should not go unheeded in the post-9/11 world, yet relatively little Federal effort or funding has been committed to GA security since those terrorist attacks occurred. The effort to reopen DCA is a welcome development for the local economy, and an initial look at the proposed plan indicates a major emphasis on establishing an effective security protocol. However, I am concerned about press reports regarding attempts to water down the proposed rules to allow GA aircraft to return to DCA before they have even been put in place. I think that we must be able to assess how the new system is working before making any sweeping changes to expand service at the airport. DCA has been shut down to GA operations for nearly four years because of security concerns. I believe it would be wise to move carefully and look closely at the effects of the newly proposed system before taking further steps. The matter of airspace incursions into the D.C. Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) also needs a closer look. I would like to know more about the TSA’s assessment of this incident. It appears security protocol was properly followed, but was the end result the best of all possibilities? Is it prudent to evacuate thousands of workers and tourists from select locations? Do we have the proper systems in place to intercept slow moving aircraft? Would a faster moving plane have been shot down? I am hopeful that today’s hearing will provide the answers to these and other questions that many in Congress have been asking. As the GA fleet in the U.S. continues to expand with the use of larger and faster aircraft, we must remain vigilant and make certain that Congress takes the necessary steps to ensure that GA security is effective and flexible enough to address any potential threats that may develop over time. I am hopeful that this hearing will be a proper first step to look more closely at the current structure of GA security and future efforts that must be undertaken to protect this critical segment of our aviation system. ###
U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
(As prepared)I would to thank Senator Stevens for holding this hearing today and would like to welcome our witnesses. First, I would note that I have supported legislation re-opening National Airport to general aviation, but have always predicated my support on whether or not sufficient security protocols could be established. The Administration has developed a rigorous security program for National and before anyone wants to ease these requirements, I believe it would be prudent to implement them and then see what, if any, future adjustments need to be made. Although much of this hearing will be devoted to issues surrounding the re-opening of National Airport to a limited amount of general aviation traffic, I believe it is important to take this opportunity to explore what I believe is one the most pressing issues in aviation security today - the lack of a comprehensive federal security regime for general aviation. As we all know, the 9-11 report and other recent DHS reports confirm that general aviation represents a substantial security risk. As we strengthen our passenger and cargo security systems the terrorists will seek other avenues. I believe that general aviation remains a rich and easy target for terrorists. I do not make this statement lightly. We have a serious problem and we must address it. In reviewing the Transportation Security Administration’s actions on general aviation security, I remain deeply troubled. To be blunt, the agency is doing nothing but relying on voluntary self-compliance from the affected stakeholders to devise a security system for general aviation. This simply is not good enough. I know our panel of industry representatives will argue that their voluntary measures are sufficient, but I disagree. The reason the federal government is relying on industry for general aviation security is because TSA does not have the resources and staff to do it themselves. This is another glaring example of the Administration shortchanging our aviation security needs because of irresponsible budget policy. It is my understanding that TSA has only a limited number of staff devoted to general aviation security and no dedicated budget. Given the size of the industry, this lack of resources and commitment is stunning. I also dispute the notion that the size of the aircraft limits its damage potential. We evacuated the Capitol weeks ago because the government did not know what might be in that small plane. A small plane packed with lightweight explosives, biological or chemical agents can be as much of a threat as a commercial airliner. I want to work with the other Members of the Committee, the Administration and the general aviation community in establishing an effective federally operated security regime and to strengthen aviation security as a whole. This may take an implementation of a general aviation security fee. I strongly believe that general aviation needs to be kept operating, but there is a legitimate need for more security. ###
Witness Panel 1
Mr. Jonathan FlemingChief Operating OfficerTransportation Security Administration
Mr. Michael A. CirilloVice President for System Operation Services, Air Traffic OrganizationFederal Aviation Administration
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL A. CIRILLO
VICE PRESIDENT, SYSTEM OPERATIONS SERVICES
AIR TRAFFIC ORGANIZATION, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION
BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE AND TRANSPORTATION
ON THE MAY 11 INCIDENT THAT LED TO THE
EVACUATION OF THE US CAPITOL, WHITE HOUSE AND SUPREME COURT
JUNE 9, 2005
Chairman Stevens, Senator Inouye, Members of the Committee: I am pleased to appear before you today to discuss the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) responsibility in matters involving general aviation security, particularly in and around the Nation’s Capital. This includes the role FAA played with respect to the incident that occurred on May 11, 2005, which led to the evacuation of the U.S. Capitol, the White House and the Supreme Court. I will also discuss how FAA will help implement the Administration’s recent decision to reopen Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) to general aviation on a limited basis. It’s a pleasure to be here with my colleague from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). As you know, since September 11th, security in and around our Nation’s Capital has changed significantly. With respect to aviation, a number of restrictions and procedures have been put in place that were designed to protect the significant assets in this area. At the outset, I would note that the restrictions and requirements for operating aircraft in this area are unique. Ordinarily, a general aviation aircraft operating at low altitudes and under visual flight rules (VFR) could operate legally within the National Airspace System without filing a flight plan or communicating with air traffic control. Flights occur all the time around the country without direct FAA control or contact. For obvious reasons, however, that is not the case in this area. When aircraft approach the national capital region, we want to know who they are and where they are going. There are two airspace zones established around the national capital region. There is a 2,000 square mile area surrounding Washington’s three major airports known as the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). How flights are handled heading toward or entering the ADIZ varies depending on the existing threat level, but generally aircraft operating in the zone are required to file a flight plan, be in continuous communication with air traffic control, and have a functioning transponder that transmits a discrete or uniquely identifiable code. Within the ADIZ and extending approximately fifteen miles around the U.S. Capitol is the Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ). Additional operating requirements apply to general aviation aircraft operating within the FRZ, including applying for and receiving a TSA and FAA waiver. Unidentified aircraft operating in restricted airspace are taken very seriously. FAA is a member of the National Capital Region Coordination Center (NCRCC), a group comprised of representatives of security and military agencies to ensure that, in the event of a threat from an unidentified aircraft, coordinated action can be taken to appropriately address the threat and keep the region safe. An analysis of what happened on May 11, 2005 will serve as a good example of how FAA interacts with other agencies when an unidentified aircraft approaches Washington, D.C. At 11:28 a.m., FAA and the NCRCC became aware of an aircraft entering the ADIZ from the northeast, approximately 44 miles from DCA. The FAA’s watch officer for key communications working with the Domestic Events Network (DEN), contacted the Potomac Consolidated Terminal Radar Approach Control (Potomac TRACON), which confirmed to participating NCRCC agencies that the aircraft was not in communication with air traffic control, had not filed a flight plan and that its transponder was transmitting a generic, rather than a unique code. At this point, the aircraft was considered to be a track of interest (TOI). Because the aircraft was flying just within and parallel to the northern boundary of the ADIZ, it was not considered an immediate threat and, while it was monitored closely, no intercept action was taken at this point. The aircraft subsequently turned southbound toward the FRZ, the second restricted zone surrounding the Capitol. This information was communicated on the DEN to the participating NCRCC agencies. At this point, the Customs and Border Protection Office of Marine Operations (AMO) ordered the launch of its Blackhawk helicopter and Citation jet aircraft from DCA. In addition, two F-16 aircraft were scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base. The AMO Blackhawk initially intercepted the aircraft about 10 miles north of the Capitol. When the aircraft continued to proceed south toward the Capitol, the F-16s moved in to intercept. The aircraft was visually identified as a high-winged, single-engine Cessna-type aircraft. Attempts by the Blackhawk helicopter to signal to the pilots of the Cessna and get them to communicate on an emergency frequency were initially unsuccessful. At noon, the Department of Defense authorized the F-16 pilots to use flares. The flares were dispensed when the aircraft was 6.7 miles from DCA. At this time, the Secret Service and the U.S. Capitol Police made the decision to evacuate the White House and the Capitol, respectively. The Blackhawk continued to signal to the pilots to get them to communicate with them. Ultimately, the Cessna pilots were able to make contact with the AMO Citation on an emergency frequency and the Cessna turned west. The Cessna proceeded through the prohibited airspace over the Naval Observatory with the F-16s in escort. As the aircraft exited the FRZ, the Blackhawk joined the escort north. The Potomac TRACON reported on the DEN that the pilots were in communication with air traffic controllers at 12:22 p.m. The pilots reported to the controllers that they had been instructed to proceed to the airport in Frederick, Maryland. Escorted by the Blackhawk and the F-16s, the aircraft exited the ADIZ at12:25 p.m. and landed in Frederick at 12:39 p.m. During the flight, Potomac TRACON controllers communicated with the pilots several times to tell them how far they were from the airport and to warn them to look for other VFR traffic. There was little communication back from the pilots of the light aircraft to the controllers during the flight. The Secret Service sounded the all clear at the White House at 12:14 p.m. and the U.S. Capitol Police sounded the all clear at 12:40 p.m. Upon landing, the occupants of the aircraft were taken into custody by the FBI, Secret Service, and Maryland state authorities for questioning. In this instance, we consider the interaction of the agencies to have worked as intended. The communication and interface that took place during this incident were an improvement over the interagency communication that took place during the incident last June involving the Governor of Kentucky’s plane which, on approach to DCA, was known to FAA controllers, but appeared as an unidentified aircraft to the other members of the NCRCC. By contrast, on May 11th, the decision to evacuate the Capitol and the White House was made by the U.S. Capitol Police and the Secret Service based on the accurate information that an unknown aircraft operator had penetrated the ADIZ and the FRZ, was heading toward the Capitol, and was not immediately responding to the intercept. Once the aircraft changed direction away from the areas of concern, an all clear was announced. All agencies in the NCRCC learned from the June 2004 event and, as a result, today, both FAA controllers and NCRCC members are seeing and acting on the same information. After federal and state authorities questioned the occupants of the aircraft, they determined that there was no criminal intent involved in their actions and they were released. One of the individuals, Hayden L. Sheaffer, held an FAA pilot’s license. The other individual, Troy Donovan Martin, holds a student pilot certificate. Although Mr. Martin was manipulating the controls of the aircraft during the entire incident in question, Mr. Sheaffer, by virtue of being the only fully certificated airman in the aircraft, was pilot-in-command of the flight. As such, he failed to navigate properly and to check adequately for, and adhere to, airspace restrictions during the flight. This resulted in the aircraft penetrating the Class B airspace around BWI Airport, the restricted airspace around the national capital region (both the ADIZ and the FRZ), and the prohibited airspace over the Naval Observatory without authorization and in violation of FAA regulations and procedures. His inability to navigate adequately, his lack of knowledge of how to respond to an intercept, his failure to communicate with air traffic control despite being lost in controlled and restricted airspace, have led FAA to conclude that he lacks the qualification required to hold an airman pilot’s certificate. Therefore, on May 20, 2005, FAA issued an emergency order revoking Mr. Sheaffer’s pilot’s license. The emergency nature of the order means that the revocation is effective immediately. Mr. Sheaffer appealed both the merits of the revocation and the emergency nature of the action to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). On June 3, 2005, an NTSB administrative law judge (ALJ) sustained the emergency nature of FAA’s revocation and set a hearing date of June 15 and 16 to adjudicate the merits of the action. The ALJ’s ruling could be appealed to the members of the NTSB. A final NTSB decision is appealable to the U.S. Courts of Appeal. Because Mr. Sheaffer’s case is ongoing, I am limited in what I can discuss with respect to our investigation and subsequent enforcement action. While Mr. Sheaffer’s case received an extraordinary amount of media attention due to how far into the ADIZ and FRZ he penetrated and the resulting evacuations, ADIZ violations are fairly common around the D.C. area. Most are inadvertent and the pilots do not travel very far into the restricted area. Although not all pilot deviations have resulted in enforcement action, the FAA has taken enforcement action against approximately 600 pilots for violations of the ADIZ since the beginning of calendar year 2003. Our sanction guidance recommends a 30 to 90 day suspension of a pilot’s license for a typical ADIZ violation. However, that guidance does not preclude imposing a more severe sanction should the circumstances warrant. In one case, a revocation was sustained due to the intentional nature of the violation. The case against Mr. Sheaffer is not just an ADIZ case. It involves his basic qualifications to hold an airman pilot certificate. The other major security issue concerning general aviation in this area is the continued restriction in place that effectively prevents general aviation aircraft from using Reagan National Airport. This restriction has been in place since September 11, 2001. I know that this Committee has long supported reopening National Airport to general aviation and I am pleased to say that on May 25, 2005, the Administration, under the leadership of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and TSA announced a plan to do just that. As the agency that has control over the airspace, FAA’s role in implementing this plan is critical, but limited. FAA will work with TSA and other stakeholders to solidify all procedures and requirements necessary to implement the Administration’s plan. The FAA’s representatives at the NCRCC and the DEN will develop procedures to timely disseminate and validate information on all approved aircraft and operators. We are working on a Web based program to streamline this process. FAA will also be responsible for issuing advisory circulars and notices to airmen to pilots that include all new procedures put in place. At this time, we do not anticipate that approved general aviation aircraft will be required to install special equipment beyond what would already be required. Obviously, reintroducing general aviation to DCA will be monitored closely by all interested agencies and adjustments to the plan may be made as necessary. We see the announcement of this plan as a significant benefit for general aviation in the DC area. In conclusion, I would like to say that, although the May 11 incident was disturbing and resulted in an evacuation of thousands of people, causing alarm and uncertainty for a period of time, the system worked as it was designed to. NCRCC member agencies coordinated their decisions based on accurate information that was shared in real time. While it is always appropriate after an event such as this to review whether and to what extent the government’s responses were proper, from a coordination and communication standpoint, the FAA believes the system worked. This concludes my statement. I will be happy to answer your questions at this time.
Witness Panel 2
Mr. Andrew CebulaSenior Vice PresidentAircraft Owners & Pilots Association
Statement of Andrew V. Cebula
Senior Vice President Government and Technical Affairs
On Behalf of the
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
General Aviation Security
June 9, 2005
Good morning, my name is Andy Cebula, Senior Vice President Government and Technical Affairs, of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). AOPA represents over 400,000 pilots and aircraft owners -- more than two-thirds of all the pilots in the United States. AOPA members and general aviation security The individuals that we represent are your constituents and I want to share with you their anxiety about Congressional action related to general aviation security. In a recent survey, over 90 percent expressed their concern that issues related to homeland security threatened general aviation operations in the national airspace. Likewise, 84 percent expressed concern that security measures mandated by Congress would adversely affect their ability to fly. My purpose today is to explain what has been done to enhance general aviation security since 9-11 and some of the current challenges being faced by AOPA members. General aviation is an essential part of the air transportation system, serving over 18,000 private and public airports in communities across the country, carrying over 166 million passengers per year. There are 5,400 public use airports. General aviation security is a responsibility taken seriously by AOPA and its members. Before 9-11, general aviation security focused primarily on preventing aircraft theft and airspace regulations were typically safety related. However, in the last three and a half years that has changed dramatically, the general aviation community and the government have responded with programs to enhance the security of pilots, aircraft and airports, and airspace. Security, previously not thought much of by the general aviation community, has become a top priority. While the average airline passenger has seen little change in the basic security process since 2001, the typical general aviation pilot has witnessed tremendous changes with numerous new security requirements. Pilots are vetted, their names are cross checked against terrorist watch list, new security procedures and equipment has been implemented at general aviation airports, and the airspace can at anytime and anywhere be closed or limited to pilots anywhere in the country. Given the relative low speed and small size of the majority of general aviation aircraft, AOPA has advocated improving general aviation security, but doing so recognizing the low threat it posses to the nation. As we begin to look at the improvements to general aviation security, it is helpful to establish some comparative benchmarks. General aviation and national security – small and slow The typical AOPA member operates an aircraft like a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. There are more than 25,000 Cessna 172 Skyhawk's registered in the United States, making it the most popular general aviation airplane. This four-seat airplane operates at about twice the speed of a car (120 mph), has an average maximum weight of 2,300 pounds, carries 40 gallons of fuel and has a useful load (after full fuel) for people and baggage of around 500 pounds. A Cessna 172 is less in size and weight than a typical compact car like the Honda Civic, which weighs around 2,600 pounds. The number of general aviation aircraft stolen is down sharply since the general aviation community took steps to enhance security since the late 80's to discourage aircraft thefts that were used mostly for drug smuggling. According to the most recent statistics available from the Aviation Crime Prevention Institute, in 2003, there were only six aircraft stolen nationwide. The combination of these factors and security enhancements put into place since 9-11 limits the desirability of general aviation for illicit uses. Independent analysis by government agencies concurs with this assessment. A November 2004 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on General Aviation Security, concurred, noting that "the small size, lack of fuel capacity, and minimal destructive power of most general aviation aircraft make them unattractive to terrorists and, thereby, reduce the possibility of threat associated with their misuse." The report found that most of the airports GAO visited had, on their own initiative, established a number of security enhancements, using either airport revenue or state or federal grant money to fund some of the enhancements. The report concludes that continued partnerships between the general aviation industry and the government, such as AOPA's Airport Watch program, are vital to the long-term success of efforts to enhance security at the nation's general aviation landing facilities. With this information as a prelude, let us examine the improvements in general aviation security and current challenges. AOPA’s Airport Watch -- cornerstone of general aviation security awareness With over 18,000 public and private general aviation-landing facilities, the government cannot, nor is it necessary to regulate or directly oversee airport security at these facilities. Recognizing that general aviation airports are similar to small communities, AOPA worked with the Department of Homeland Security to develop and implement the Airport Watch program. Much like a neighborhood watch program, this Airport Watch enlists the support of some 550,000 general aviation pilots to watch for and report suspicious activities that might have security implications. Since December 2002, TSA receives reports of suspicious activities through the general aviation hotline 866-GA-SECURE (1-866-427-3287). The Airport Watch program and the general aviation hotline are critical elements of general aviation security. The program serves as a centralized reporting system for general aviation pilots, airport operators, and maintenance technicians wishing to report suspicious activity at their airfield. The program materials are the Airport Watch brochure explaining the program and what to watch for, warning poster, warning decal, warning sign, and an instructional video featuring the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The Airport Watch program has been actively supported by the TSA, FAA, Civil Air Patrol, aviation businesses on airports, pilot groups, manufacturers, and state departments of transportation. In launching the program, AOPA distributed Airport Watch materials to all 550,000 general aviation pilots and 5,280 public-use general aviation airports. AOPA continues to make program materials available and during the past 12 months AOPA has fully funded efforts to send additional Airport Watch materials to pilots and aviation officials in Iowa, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and New Jersey. Since the program’s inception, AOPA has spent more than $1 million of Association funds in developing, distributing and promoting the Airport Watch program. Another industry-wide mailing is anticipated later this year. Congress has shown its support of the Airport Watch program with directive language in the Homeland Security Appropriations bill for the past two years, and the House-passed Homeland Security Appropriations bill for FY06, which contains funding for an additional nationwide educational and promotional effort. The Airport Watch concepts have been proven to work. Even though actionable calls are rare, they have been viewed as beneficial. Time and again, the TSA has praised the valuable information they receive from pilots reporting suspicious behaviors. Below is a small sampling of reports taken through the Airport Watch program. - In Kansas, the Airport Watch concepts caught an accused con man. Airport employees became suspicious and contacted authorities when a man tried to rent aircraft at several different FBOs, claiming to be a pilot. At one location, he left the space for the pilot certificate number blank. Others who dealt with him said that for someone who supposedly owned and flew aircraft, the suspect didn't seem to know much about aircraft systems. - In St. Louis, two suspicious individuals offered to pay cash for a charter helicopter flight, they presented driver's licenses from two different states while their car was registered in a third state and had backpacks and odd shaped luggage that caught the attention of an FBO employee. While another employee stalled the suspects, the first employee contacted authorities. Authorities discovered box cutters and other potential weapons hidden inside the suspect’s bags. It was later determined the suspects were actually news reporters from New York trying to do a story on how a terrorist could hijack a helicopter. - In Ohio, a Certified Flight Instructor reported to the general aviation security hotline a student who during ground school review and instructional flight time asked questions about how background checks are done, and how long they take. He also asked the instructor numerous questions about lowest levels to fly to avoid radar, how to find power plants if not on sectional maps, and how close can they be flown to. Federal officials followed up by conducting a criminal and watch list check of the student. - In Georgia, an aircraft charter company reported a suspicious caller who wanted to reserve a flight for 11 to 12 passengers to fly to Washington Dulles Airport. The caller was elusive when asked for his name, credit card, and passenger information. He provided a company name with a tax ID number that did not match. Federal Authorities were following up. - In Arkansas, an airport manager reported receiving two phone calls from a suspicious person with a heavy accent inquiring to store an aircraft and some equipment inside a hangar for about three weeks. Manager was concerned due to the airports proximity to a nuclear power plant. - In Minnesota, a flight instructor received a suspicious telephone call from an unknown individual requesting flight training for a Korean citizen. When the caller was advised a background check was required, he abruptly ended the call. The instructor was able to obtain the telephone number from the caller ID. Local FBI was notified and is conducting an investigation. AIRSPACE RESTRICTIONS Immediately following the tragic events of four commercial airliners being hijacked to be used as weapons against the United States on the morning of September 11, 2001, the FAA issued a Notice to Airman (Notam) grounding all civil air traffic. This historic action was unprecedented and underscored the concern security policy makers had about civil aircraft being used as weapons. It set the stage for changes in security policies for the commercial airline industry and the general aviation community. The report to Congress, “Improving General Aviation Security” issued in December 2001, by the newly formed Transportation Security Administration (TSA) launched the strategy for addressing security of general aviation. This included airspace restrictions, scrutiny of pilots and improvement of their credentials, and security enhancements for general aviation airports – and the all-important issue of educating the pilot community. One of the underlying principles is the importance of balancing security requirements with the threat that general aviation presents. That is one of the reasons the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has adopted risk-based approaches to security – balancing the cost for security, the limitations and restrictions, with the security benefits. It is absolutely essential, that any security requirements do not eliminate the very industry they are designed to protect. If that occurs, the terrorists have won. Many pilots are asking this very question about the airspace restrictions in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area (National Capitol Region). Just last week, over 5,000 pilots visited our headquarters in Frederick Maryland and the most discussed topic was the flight restrictions around the National Capitol Region. Expanded use of Temporary Flight Restrictions To understand the general aviation perspective on the National Capitol Region airspace, it is important to recognize that prior to 9-11, Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) were issued, but were typically smaller, shorter duration, and did not come with the severe penalties for violations. Today, a pilot can face FAA enforcement action including the loss of their pilot certificate and the extreme prospect of loosing their life by being shot down for violating a TFR. As an example of the magnitude of airspace restrictions, anytime the president travels a 30-mile TFR is established. Last year there were over 200 of these TFRs. National Capitol Region – Airspace Restrictions While much of the emphasis on general aviation has been access to Washington Reagan National Airport and this Committee is to be commended for its work to reopen this airport to general aviation the majority of AOPA members are concerned about the airspace restrictions around the National Capitol Region. As illustrated in the chart, there are two areas of airspace restrictions on general aviation operations created since 9-11, the inner ring Flight Restricted or “No Fly” Zone (FRZ) and the outer Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). Air Defense Identification Zone Surrounding the 15-Nautical-mile Radius Flight Restriction Zone Flight Restricted Zone – sensitive areas of the Nation’s Capitol In the days following 9-11 the FAA implemented a total ban on general aviation operations in the 15-mile radius FRZ, sometimes referred to as the “No-Fly-Zone” that extends from ground level to 18,000 feet around Washington, DC. In February of 2002, the FAA partially lifted this ban by allowing limited operations at College Park and Potomac Airports, as well as Hyde Field in Maryland. Until then, no general aviation aircraft could operate to or from these airports, referred to as the “DC-3” unless the aircraft was based at the airport prior to 9-11 AND the pilot has undergone FBI fingerprinting and criminal history record check before being permitted to operate under very strict flight rules. This meant that all three general aviation airports were closed to all but 300 based aircraft since 9-11. For many AOPA members the DC-3 airports were the aviation access point to the Nation’s Capitol, essentially the light aircraft operator’s Washington Reagan National Airport. That is why we were pleased when the TSA in February of this year allowed vetted transient pilots to apply to operate at the DC-3 airports. These pilots must undergo the same rigorous background check as pilots based at the airport. Pilots are required to complete an FBI fingerprint background check and security training prior to receiving a unique PIN code to operate in the FRZ. Underscoring the importance of these airports to AOPA members, just this past weekend, over 180 pilots took advantage of the opportunity to complete two of the three required steps by participating in a seminar held during AOPA’s Fly-In. Washington, DC – 29 months after 9-11 the Air Defense Identification Zone Established The FRZ was deemed to be sufficient for the 29 months following 9-11. This was due in part to the large Washington, DC Class B airspace area over the capital region that requires all aircraft contact air traffic control (ATC) and obtain a clearance to enter the airspace. Additionally, all aircraft operating in the Class B airspace must remain under positive ATC contact. However, in early February 2003 over a weekend, the general aviation community was told by the TSA that a Washington, DC ADIZ would be established as a temporary security measure in response to an increase to the National Threat Level Alert status and the pending hostilities in Iraq. The Washington, DC ADIZ is huge, encompassing 19 public-use airports, over 10,000 pilots, 2,147 aircraft, accounting for nearly one million operations per year. Geographically, the ADIZ spans a distance of 90-miles, stretching from the tip of West Virginia, across the Chesapeake Bay to Maryland’s Eastern Shore and south to just outside of Fredericksburg, Virginia. To fly in the ADIZ, all general aviation aircraft must comply with operational procedures similar to those designed for instrument flying. Specifically, all pilots must file and activate a flight plan with a Flight Service Station (FSS), and obtain a discrete transponder code from Air Traffic Control (ATC) or FSS. Once in the air, pilots must maintain two-way radio communication with ATC, squawk the assigned code on their transponder, and fly according to the flight plan while following instructions from the ATC until they are outside the ADIZ boundary. In the months following the ADIZ implementation, the Federal Government subsequently decreased the National Threat Level Alert Status to Yellow, and the President declared an end to the major fighting in Iraq. The Federal Government has taken steps to eliminate all the heightened security measures related to the Code Orange, including eliminating an ADIZ over New York City, and a TFR over downtown Chicago, IL when the threat level was lowered. Despite the fact that the threat level was lowered, more than two years ago, the ADIZ remains in place. AOPA has also learned that there is currently a proposed rule at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to make the ADIZ permanent, something that AOPA opposes. The ADIZ adversely affects safety, is costly to operate, and is negatively impacting pilots and aviation businesses – it doesn’t work. Because it is such an anomaly, the ADIZ creates operational challenges that the Government has been unable to remedy. Even experienced pilots and aviation officials are often confused in regard to its requirements and procedures. As a result, in addition to the high-profile violations that occasionally make the news, there have been numerous military and police aircraft that have violated the ADIZ airspace. This underscores the need for change. Operationally, the ADIZ has been a disaster affecting pilots and slowly smothering the businesses that employ people in the National Capitol Region. With the ADIZ in place, the limited resources of the government and congested airspace have created unnecessary safety risks for both general aviation and commercial flights. Because the ADIZ requires that all aircraft be on a flight plan, controller workload has quadrupled. The increased workload for controllers consequently often diverts controllers from their primary responsibility traffic separation. Significant safety concerns also arise for pilots in the air. Pilots and ATC report that aircraft forced to circle outside the ADIZ while waiting for a discrete beacon code creates safety problems. There are safety implications of forcing multiple aircraft to circle and loiter over common points while they wait to enter the ADIZ. In one instance, a pilot faced an unexpected delay to enter the ADIZ, ran out of fuel, and made a forced landing. Thankfully no one was seriously injured, but the aircraft sustained extensive damage. Inside the ADIZ, a visual flight rule (VFR) pilot’s attention is divided between his traditional “see and avoid” responsibilities and compliance with complicated ADIZ requirements. The air traffic controllers even have a policy memo making it clear that VFR aircraft flying in ADIZ are not receiving traffic advisories – creating confusion because the pilots expect this when talking to ATC. The ADIZ was designed and is currently staffed as a temporary measure. We understand that it costs the FAA $18 million per year to operate the ADIZ ($8M for ATC cost and $10M related to enforcement actions). The ADIZ requirements have overloaded the ATC system and pilots continue to experience extreme difficulties in gaining access to the 19-public use airports in the ADIZ. The Air Traffic system was not designed to support the increased workload caused by imposing Instrument Flight Rule (IFR) operational requirements on VFR traffic and the FAA does not have the resources in place to effectively manage, for extended periods of time, the volume of general aviation traffic requiring access. Contacting ATC via landlines has led to delays that ranged from 10 minutes to over two hours because of the ADIZ. Likewise, pilots attempting to obtain discrete codes via clearance delivery on the ground also experienced delays of up to 45 minutes while holding at the runway threshold with the engine running. The current system does not deal well with routine situations that occur while flying. Even a small power surge can reset a transponder, and as we have seen with the recent violation by a Canadian pilot, aircraft do occasionally have difficulties with lightning. The shear size of the ADIZ combined with the fact that a minor mechanical difficulty can technically cause a pilot to violate the airspace, means that the probability of future problems is high. Pilots have difficulty meeting ADIZ requirements There have been a few high profile ADIZ violations, including the May 11 violation by a Cessna 150, and a transponder failure on the plane carrying the Kentucky governor. From January 2003 to July 2004, the FAA has tracked 2,000 “tracks of interest” ranging from cloud formations and flocks of birds to aircraft infringing on the Washington airspace. For the general aviation community, the May 11 event was unacceptable. Certainly the pilot knows that and has apologized. However, it also underscores that there must be reason applied as Congress and agencies address issues of national security. A small, slow flying aircraft does not present a major terror threat. On that day, the intercept pilots understood this and responded appropriately. AOPA has continually heard from pilots on the difficulties with the ADIZ. Below is a list of a few short examples that help highlight the issue: 1. Medical Airlift Pilot Suspended The operator of a medical helicopter legally departed an airport inside the ADIZ. The helicopter was observed by controllers to be in the vicinity of the airport transmitting the proper squawk code. The aircraft remained in constant communications with air traffic control; however, during the flight the transponder momentarily reset causing it to squawk the wrong code for a period of less than two-minutes. When notified, the pilot immediately corrected the code. Unfortunately, the incident has resulted in the FAA proposing to suspend this medical pilots flight privileges for 30-days. 2. Transponder Failure Near Home Airport An aircraft departing Leesburg, Virginia was notified by ATC that the transponder was not working. The transponder was cycled several times. The pilot was told to depart the ADIZ, and notified that he would not be allowed back in. The pilot notified departure that the aircraft would return to Leesburg, the base airport for the aircraft in order to have it fixed (aircraft was less than two miles away from the airport at that time). Upon landing, the pilot was notified that landing does not constitute departing the ADIZ and the FAA is pursing an investigation and enforcement action against the pilot. 3. Two-Hour Wait For Departure Clearance On a Saturday afternoon, the pilot of an aircraft in the Manassas Virginia area reported trying at least 40 times with a busy phone signal to get thru to Flight Service to file an ADIZ flight plan to depart the area. After calling Potomac Approach, he finally got an answer. The controller told him to call back in five minutes and relayed they were so overloaded they were holding all VFR ADIZ departures for approximately one hour. This pilot eventually got thru and received his transponder code to depart. The whole process took two hours. For these reasons and others, AOPA has continually sought changes to the ADIZ and continues to believe that a more reasonable approach can by taken for lighter, smaller aircraft. Congress has supported attempts to make changes to the ADIZ. Vision 100 (PL 108-176) contained a section requiring a report to Congress on changes in procedures or requirements that could improve the operational efficiency or minimize the operational impacts of the ADIZ on pilots and controllers. The law also calls for the FAA to justify the necessity of the ADIZ. Unfortunately, federal agencies have not been capable of fulfilling the requirements of the law. Looking at all this from a security perspective -- none of the ADIZ violations or “tracks of interest” has been tied to terrorism. It raises the question, “Is the ADIZ worth the cost?” Is the ADIZ worth the cost? As the GAO pointed out in its analysis of general aviation, to date, there has been no systematic or detailed assessment analyzing the security threat posed by general aviation in the Washington area. Further, the Government has made no serious attempt to analyze whether the ADIZ measurably increases security. Certainly the security of the President and Congress are paramount, but security measures such as the ADIZ should be imposed only after a careful analysis of the threat and the actual benefits of proposed security measures. Maintaining the ADIZ costs more than $18 million dollars for the FAA alone and the economic losses of the general aviation community are estimated in the millions. To improve the data on the economic impacts, AOPA has contracted with a firm to conduct an analysis of the cost of the ADIZ and anticipate that we will have this completed by the end of the summer. The ADIZ is slowly smothering an industry that generates almost $123 million in economic activity for the Washington region each year, and which accounts for more than 60 percent of aircraft operations in the National Capitol Region. The impact on the local aviation economy has been dramatic. The ADIZ has caused reductions in the number of aircraft based at airports in the ADIZ, a decrease in flight activity, resulting in a dramatic domino effect on businesses that support aviation. The last time AOPA surveyed the ADIZ airports we learned that there has been a 30 to 50 percent decrease in business at these airports. Fuel sales have decreased as much as 45 percent at some airports. If the ADIZ is not eliminated or modified, it could permanently jeopardize the economic viability of general aviation operations in the Washington area. Government security enhancements to the National Capitol Region Although rumored to be in existence for some time, a story in the February 27, 2005 issue of the Washington Post validated that missile batteries, intended to shoot down aircraft, augment the National Capitol Region airspace security. While the hope is these would never be necessary, their presence illustrates an additional capability available to defend the Region. Likewise, last month the Department of Defense implemented its Visual Warning System (VWS) that enables them to notify pilots that have flown into the protected airspace in the National Capitol Region. A series of red and green laser lights signals a pilot that they have flown into an area without meeting the security requirements necessary for entry. This is another tool to protect the seat of the nation’s government and is supported by AOPA. From a government and industry prospective, both public and private resources are limited, requiring that security measures as extreme as the ADIZ should not be imposed without a careful cost-benefit analysis. Considering the enhancements made to security in the area, the experiences since it was implemented and the security enhancements outlined later in this statement, AOPA believes it is time to reexamine the ADIZ to determine whether its questionable contribution to security justifies the high costs it has imposed on the industry. Unless such a justification is produced, the ADIZ should be eliminated or modified to provide an equivalent level of security in a less intrusive way. Improving General Aviation Security Significant progress has been made in enhancing the security of general aviation. Nearly 60 percent of AOPA members reported to the Association earlier this year that there has been a noticeable increase in the security at their home airport. There is also an amazing commitment by general aviation pilots to help by serving as the eyes and ears for security at local airports through AOPA’s Airport Watch program. Over 80 percent of the members operating at general aviation airports are aware of the program. Congress, TSA, FAA, and state legislative and executive branches have also acted on general aviation security since 9-11. The requirements related to pilots have been significantly increased. Government security requirements on pilots have increased dramatically since 9-11. Shortly after the events of September 11, current and student pilots in the FAA’s databases were reviewed for links to known or potential terrorists. This has now been enhanced by the TSA and FAA Airman Revocation regulation that enables the agencies to prevent an applicant from receiving a pilot certificate, or revoke one already issued to individuals that are deemed to pose a security threat to the United States. Through the Aviation and Transportation Security Act and Vision 100, Congress specifically directed the TSA to establish procedures for notifying the FAA of the identity of individuals known to pose a risk to aviation. Building on a Congressional requirement for screening of individuals receiving flight training in large aircraft (12,500 lbs. and above), on September 21, 2004, the TSA issued an interim final rule requiring proof of citizenship and background checks for all individuals receiving flight training, regardless of the size of the aircraft. U.S. citizens must prove citizenship before receiving flight training and all foreign flight students are required to complete a fingerprint background check process with the TSA. The rule requires individuals to validate their status with the TSA for initial training, multi-engine training or training to receive an instrument rating. The pilot’s credential – improving this important piece of identification Responding to the need for improvements in the pilot’s paper certificate that does not contain a photograph, AOPA took a rare step in February 2002, by asking for an immediate final rule mandating that pilots carry, and present for inspection, government-issued photo identification. This was viewed as an interim step to be replaced by an FAA issued pilot certificate with a photograph. Later that year, October 2002, the FAA issued the final rule implementing this requirement. Work continues on improving the security of pilot certificates. In July 2003, the FAA began to issue new difficult-to-counterfeit pilot certificates to be used in conjunction with government issued photo identification. In December 2004, through the leadership of members of the Senate Aviation Subcommittee, the National Intelligence Reform Act (NIRA) of 2004, mandated the development of an improved pilot certificate that includes a photograph of the pilot and the ability to record biometric information within one-year. While AOPA supported the concept, we were pleased the legislation included provisions to allow the use of FAA designees for facilitating the photographic information, rather than mandate pilots visiting the limited number of FAA facilities. For pilots, this will greatly improve the accessibility of providing this information to the FAA and eliminates opposition to the requirement. The FAA successfully makes use of designees in many of its requirements the one most obvious to pilots is for medical certification. It is our understanding that the FAA is developing a rule to meet this requirement. Airports and Aircraft The general aviation community and TSA work together to develop essential airport security guidelines. The TSA has also been active in improving general aviation security. One of the major initiatives of the TSA was addressing security at the 18,000+ landing facilities across the country. The vast difference in size between, for example, a rural Alaska airport and a busy general aviation facility near a major metropolitan area necessitates that a one-size-fits-all policy will not work and could easily consume massive government resources with little security benefit. TSA sought to address this reality by developing a set of guidelines for all airports. In May 2004, the TSA published its “Security Guidelines for General Aviation Airports.” These guidelines were developed under the Aviation Security Advisory Committee and provide a list of recommended security best practices for airport operators, sponsors, and tenants. The Aviation Security Advisory Committee is a broad-based group including victims of terrorist acts against aviation, law enforcement and security experts, government agencies, aviation consumer advocates, airport tenants and general aviation, airport operators, airline labor and management, and air cargo representatives. The guidelines also include an assessment tool to discriminate security needs at differing airports. This tool, the Airport Characteristics Measurement Tool, helps airport operators assess the local situation at their airport and helps operators determine which security enhancements would be most appropriate. On the horizon -- vulnerability assessments In addition, as part of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7 (HSPD-7), DHS was required to develop a National Critical Infrastructure Protection Plan and Sector Specific Security Plans. Section 4001 of Public law 108-458, the “Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004” required DHS to submit the National Strategy for Transportation Security, including the modal security plans by April 1, 2005. One component of those plans is an assessment of vulnerabilities and prioritization of transportation assets. The General Aviation Vulnerability Identification Self-Assessment Tool (VISAT) is currently in development and is expected to be out in late summer/early fall. This tool will: - Capture a snapshot of the general aviation airports baseline security system. - Provide general aviation airport operators with a vulnerability assessment tool. - Assist the airport in the development of a comprehensive security plan. Assessment tools for other modes of transportation, such as regulated ports, have been developed. When complete, the tools will work together to evaluate vulnerabilities across multiple-transportation modes in order to determine resources needed to protect critical infrastructure. TSA recently provided several airport operators the opportunity to demonstrate the tool and to offer feedback. AOPA and pilots are extremely involved in state and local security efforts Virtually all states have taken action to improve general aviation security. For many of the nation’s 5,400 public-use airports, the local pilots, airport managers, law enforcement and first responders are the critical element of general aviation security. These airports also range from small grass strips with just a few based-aircraft, to large centers of general aviation activity with an air traffic control tower. This wide range of airport necessitates a broad range of security programs and responses. The Airport Watch program has been accepted and promoted by nearly every state in the country as an efficient means to enhance security by successfully enlisting pilots and other individuals who routinely work or fly at an airport. Many states and local municipalities have taken additional steps to improve the security of their general aviation airports. Below are a few examples: · The state of Virginia has provided their general aviation airports with security audit checklists and manuals to help airports assess vulnerabilities and tailor appropriate security measures to their facilities. · The state of Tennessee has helped in distributing more than $1 million in federal grants to aid general aviation airports statewide for the installation of better security lighting, fencing and gates. · New Jersey requires airports to display emergency contact information, has established a communications system for all airport managers in the state and has issued an RFP for a closed circuit television surveillance system to be installed at many of their public use airports. · In Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission has issued a set of security directives for all airports in the commonwealth. · California passed a state law that allows the Division of Aeronautics to provide the entire local match to a general aviation airport receiving an AIP grant for security projects such as fencing, gates, and lighting. · Florida passed state legislation that requires many public use general aviation airports to implement a security plan consistent with guidelines published by the Florida Airports Council. · The state of Washington contracted with a consultant to do a security assessment of public use general aviation airports. These efforts are paying off in visible ways. In a recent survey of our members, 78 percent of members say their general aviation airport has a fence while nearly 60 percent have said they have seen a noticeable increase in security implemented at their local airport since September 11. The majority of AOPA members reported that they lock or store their aircraft inside a locked hangar. In addition, nearly all AOPA members say they are familiar with Airport Watch and that their local airport has posted signs requesting pilots to report all suspicious activity to 1-866-GA-SECURE. AOPA Educational Efforts AOPA is committed to working with the FAA and TSA to educate pilots about general aviation security requirements. These efforts include: Direct emails to AOPA members anytime TFRs are issued. In 2004, there were 209 TFRs. During this time, AOPA sent 4,772,210 emails to members alerting them to airspace restrictions and changes AOPA Web site is continuously updated with all announced airspace restrictions and has devoted an entire section of the front page to educating members on post 9-11 security measures. AOPA’s monthly magazine, AOPA Pilot, runs an airspace story in every issue. This magazine reaches over 400,000 pilots each month. Furthermore, AOPA Pilot runs an expanded feature story on airspace about three times a year. Air Safety Foundation training programs – AOPA’s Air Safety Foundation (ASF) has committed substantial efforts to education pilots with much of this work focusing on the Washington, DC ADIZ. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation has also developed interactive airspace instruction programs and printed advisories and education materials distributed through industry, FAA, and TSA. Highlights of the AOPA and ASF work that focus on the ADIZ include: · ADIZ Graphical Web Page – The graphical Web page lists all FAA Notams, provides a plane language description and provides a graphical depiction of the airspace, providing a one-stop-shop for pilots. · AOPA’s Real Time Flight Planner – This interactive program allows pilots to plan a flight from point to point, while seeing the ADIZ and Temporary Flight Restrictions. · ADIZ Checklist – Easy to understand handout that pilots can take into aircraft to ensure compliance with the ADIZ procedures. · ADIZ Frequently Asked Questions – ADIZ questions from pilots and detailed answers with research help from the appropriate federal agency. · ADIZ Interactive Presentation – An interactive program that specifically highlights ADIZ operations and procedures. · ASF “Know Before You Go” Online Course – A course developed to educate pilots on a wide range of security restrictions implemented since 9-11. · ASF “Airspace For Everyone” Safety Advisory – A detailed handout that examines the airspace structure and how pilots are expected to operate with-in it, including an explanation on in-flight intercept procedures. · Coming Soon – ASF “Visual Warning System” – A training program designed to educate pilots on the new visual warning light system being used to alert pilots to incursions in the ADIZ. Clearly, AOPA is committed to doing all possible to train and educate pilots on security related information. Summary The government and the general aviation community have taken numerous steps to enhance the security since 9-11. AOPA is committed to continue the Airport Watch program, pilot education and outreach, and work with Congress, TSA, FAA, and state and local government to implement appropriate security measures for general aviation. However, there are grave concerns that the pilot community has over the continuation of the ADIZ. In its current form it simply does not work, jeopardizing safety, imposing significant cost on the government and the aviation community for questionable security benefit. With the implementation of general aviation security enhancements, AOPA contends that it is time to either eliminate or dramatically change the requirements of the Washington, DC ADIZ. Again, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you this morning; I would be pleased to respond to any questions.
The Honorable James CoynePresidentNational Air Transportation Association
National Air Transportation Association
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
United States Senate:
General Aviation Security and Operations
June 9, 2005
253 Russell Senate Office Building
Appearing for NATA:
James K. Coyne, President
Chairman Stevens, Co-Chairman Inouye, and Members of the Committee: Thank you for this opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the state of general aviation security, particularly in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. My name is James K. Coyne and I am president of the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). I ask that my full statement be submitted for the record. NATA, the voice of aviation business, is the public policy group representing the interests of aviation businesses before the Congress, federal agencies and state governments. NATA's over 2,000 member companies own, operate and service aircraft and provide for the needs of the traveling public by offering services and products to aircraft operators and others such as fuel sales, aircraft maintenance, parts sales, storage, rental, airline servicing, flight training, Part 135 on-demand air charter, fractional aircraft program management and scheduled commuter operations in smaller aircraft. NATA members are a vital link in the aviation industry providing services to the general public, airlines, general aviation and the military. Nearly four years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the general aviation industry continues to come under unprecedented scrutiny. Many in the media and government have labeled the industry as unregulated and inherently lacking in security. Although nothing can be further from the truth, misleading reports and incendiary statements have done considerable damage to the industry’s reputation. New security regulations have resulted in unfounded mandates that have placed a significant financial strain on NATA members. Since September 11, 2001, NATA members, working with the association, have taken a proactive step to improve the security of their operations before being ordered to do so by the government. Following the attacks, NATA formed the Business Aviation Security Task Force to develop “best practice” guidelines for fixed-base operators, air charter companies, aviation maintenance providers, and flight training schools. The Task Force issued a series of recommendations that NATA encouraged aviation businesses, their customers, and tenants to adopt. These recommendations included background checks for all employees with access to aircraft; implementation of security procedures including designation of a corporate security coordinator; posting of emergency numbers and a security mission statement; vehicle verification and escort; and identification and escorting of all flight crews and passengers. In addition to the Task Force’s recommendations, NATA has released its General Aviation Security Guide. This comprehensive guide and CD-ROM provide recommended security measures to be incorporated by fixed-base operations, line service, aircraft charter companies, maintenance and avionics service providers, flight schools, cargo handlers and other general aviation service entities operating an airport. NATA members welcomed these comprehensive recommendations and, together with using recommendations later released by the Transportation Security Administration, have improved general aviation security as demonstrated by the actions of NATA member Fostaire Helicopters. Last year, in the midst of Orange Alerts and regular reports from the Department of Homeland Security of terrorist activity, NBC News producers attempted to show the vulnerability of general aviation by preying on a St. Louis, Missouri-based helicopter charter operator and NATA member, Fostaire Helicopters. Sending unidentified men with cash and a desire to charter a helicopter immediately to Fostaire Helicopters, the news organization thought they had a major story — showing how easily terrorists could charter an aircraft. Instead, Fostaire’s owners and employees stalled the suspicious customers until law enforcement authorities arrived. The actions of Fostaire’s employees demonstrate both the security of the general aviation industry as well as the mindset of thousands of general aviation employees. Twelve-Five Standard Security Program The Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) passed in November 2001 included a provision directing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to develop regulations implementing security programs for non-scheduled commercial air carriers whose aircraft weigh more than 12,500 pounds. These regulations, popularly known as the “Twelve-Five” and the “Private Charter” rules, became effective in 2003, and have established effective security protocols for non-scheduled commercial air carriers to enhance what is arguably already the most secure mode of commercial air transportation today. NATA is proud to have played an integral part in the implementation and rollout of the Twelve-Five Standard Security Program (TFSSP) and commends the Transportation Security Administration as well as its supporters in Congress for their efforts in making the program an authentic aviation security success. Enhancements and refinements to the programs continue. Today, operators must each manually check passenger and employee names against a special TSA-issued watch list. Operators accept this as a necessary, but cumbersome, security step. But, just last year, as part of the Intelligence Reform Act, Congress instructed the TSA to develop a system whereby operators would submit names to the agency and it would vet names against the government’s consolidated terrorist watch list. NATA worked successfully with Members and staff of this committee to help create this solution that will increase the effectiveness of the TFSSP and ensure greater governmental control over sensitive personal data while alleviating a significant burden on security program participants. However, even with the Twelve-Five program’s overall success, operators have yet to realize any tangible benefit from their extensive – and expensive – compliance efforts. Put simply, even though these operators have put in place a government-approved security program equivalent to, if not more secure than, those employed by scheduled commercial air carriers, the federal government still treats all non-scheduled operators alike. This unjustified parity includes banning non-scheduled commercial air carriers from certain airspace or grounds them altogether on the slimmest of suspicions that someone, somewhere could possibly use an aircraft to commit a terrorist act. These Twelve-Five operators have invested thousands of dollars and man-hours to comply with security mandates and yet are treated exactly the same as operators without security programs. This “one-size-fits-all” treatment of non-scheduled commercial air carriers as threats to national security must end. NATA believes that non-scheduled carriers in compliance with a TSA-approved security program should receive similar airspace and access benefits as the scheduled carriers. Temporary Flight Restrictions Such flight restrictions for “Twelve-Five” operators lead me to my next point of discussion, the issuance of temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) and their effect on non-scheduled operations. So-called “VIP TFRs” are usually issued when either the President or Vice President is traveling, or when a special event such as the Super Bowl warrants closing the airspace for security reasons. These VIP TFRs and all other TFRs act like a “bubble,” prohibiting non-airline passenger aircraft from flying within a specified distance of an area, usually about 10 miles. While this may seem like a small geographic area, this restriction usually centers on at least one airport, essentially closing that airport for the duration of the TFR. The difficulties resulting from these closures are that the closures usually are established at the direction of the U.S. Secret Service with little or no notice and they ground aircraft at an airport for a long period of time, wreaking havoc on general aviation businesses. These TFRs were especially troublesome during last year’s Presidential elections, when candidates from both parties traveled to essentially the same small number of states, closing airports across those states at an alarming rate. During one TFR last year, a chief executive officer of a major U.S. corporation was told that he and his staff would be unable to fly overseas on an aircraft they chartered at a great cost because the airspace was closed around the airport from which they were taking off. Although the aircraft operator was part of the “Twelve-Five” program and certified by the TSA, that aircraft was grounded and that operator lost a significant amount of money. NATA’s efforts to get the federal government to recognize the enhanced level of security provided by the TFSSP have paid off for all-cargo carriers, however. The approved language that now exists in most TFR descriptions permits all-cargo operators complying with the Twelve-Five Standard Security Program to conduct operations during VIP events that trigger TFRs. NATA and the Transportation Security Administration are continuing to work in partnership to advocate for enhanced TFR access for passenger flights under the TFSSP, and NATA hopes that similar permits for passenger-carrying TFSSP operators will be granted by the TSA and the Secret Service. Your support in this endeavor is greatly appreciated. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Like the double standard that exists with last-minute TFRs, the continued closure of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) to non-scheduled operations remains a prime example of the misconceptions that general aviation is less secure than commercial air carriers. Since DCA’s closure in 2001, NATA has placed the reopening of non-scheduled commercial operations at DCA at the top of the association’s agenda. The proximity of DCA to downtown Washington, DC provides a unique opportunity to travel to and from our nation’s capital city in a most convenient manner. Prior to 9/11, this was a time-saving benefit that was afforded to all flying passengers. Since 9/11 however, this convenience has been denied to thousands of aircraft due to unspecified security concerns. NATA and other organizations representing the various facets of the general aviation industry have launched a vigorous campaign to reopen DCA to non-scheduled operations. The industry took its message of reopening DCA to all levels of the local and federal government, including the Department of Transportation, Department of Homeland Security, Congress, and the White House. Timeline: The following is a timeline of the actions taken by NATA to reopen DCA to charter and general aviation flights: September 2001: NATA forms the Business Aviation Security Task Force to develop “best practice” guidelines for fixed-base operators, air charter companies, aviation maintenance providers, and flight training schools. The task force issues a series of security recommendations that aviation businesses, their customers, and tenants were encouraged to support. Recommendations include background checks on all employees with access to aircraft; implementation of security procedures including designation of a corporate security coordinator; posting of emergency numbers and a security mission statement; vehicle verification and escort; and identification and escorting of all flight crew and passengers. Spring 2002: The Department of Transportation (DOT) announces completion of a program to restore DCA to general aviation. NATA and other industry groups are briefed on a six-part plan to reopen the airport to general aviation operations. DOT halts this program in June 2002. March 2003: NATA files a petition for rulemaking with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The petition calls on the FAA to initiate rulemaking that would establish security procedures necessary to allow general aviation aircraft to operate to and from DCA. June 2003: The FAA denies NATA’s petition for rulemaking. NATA then submits security protocol concepts to the TSA including specific proposals to permit access to DCA for non-scheduled operations, beginning with those operators with TSA-mandated security programs in place. Spring/Summer 2003: NATA launches an aggressive campaign on Capitol Hill to secure support for reopening DCA. Over 60 U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate Members send President Bush, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Ridge, and others letters in support of reopening DCA to general aviation. December 2003: Congress passes and the President signs the FAA Reauthorization Act, Vision 100, which includes language directing the TSA to develop a plan within 30 days that would allow for the resumption of general aviation operations at DCA. March 2004: After months of inaction by the TSA, NATA and other industry groups testify at a U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Aviation Hearing held at DCA. July 2004: At the request of NATA and other general aviation groups, fifteen Members of Congress sign a letter to Secretary Ridge asking that the DHS provide regulations for reopening DCA to general aviation ahead of time to general aviation operators so they can quickly comply with the upcoming procedures. February 2005: Working closely with NATA in developing language, Sen. George Allen introduces S. 433, which would require the Department of Homeland Security to issue regulations permitting the reopening of DCA to general aviation within six months. Shortly following, Rep. Tom Davis introduces similar legislation in the House (H.R. 911). April 2005: After meeting with NATA and other general aviation representatives, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure introduces and passes legislation requiring DCA to open to general aviation within 60 days. May 2005: On consecutive days, the U.S. House of Representatives passes two bills, each containing provisions mandating the return of charter and general aviation to DCA. The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act requires the DHS to reopen the airport within 60 days and the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act gives the department 90 days. Both bills are approved overwhelmingly. After over three and a half long years, industry efforts have begun to pay off. The announcement by TSA Administrator David Stone and FAA Administrator Marion Blakey on May 25th of the agencies beginning a plan to allow for the resumption of non-scheduled flights into DCA marked a milestone in our efforts to open the last airport in the country closed to such operations. This announcement would never have taken place without the help of our friends in the Congress, including many of you on this committee. We sincerely appreciate all of the help you have given to our cause, and thank you for continuing to keep the pressure on the Administration to get the ball rolling. I am enthusiastically looking forward to this Labor Day, when Signature Flight Support begins to welcome its first charter and business aircraft in nearly four years. In our efforts to reopen DCA to charter operations, NATA welcomed virtually any security plan that would allow the airport to accept air charter operations. We realized that there were some in the Administration who strongly objected to permitting any general aviation aircraft to use DCA. Thanks to the leadership of the Department of Homeland Security, including Secretary Michael Chertoff and Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson, the leadership of the DHS was able to pull all of its agencies together to derive a plan that will once again have non-scheduled operations flying into and out of DCA. Secretaries Chertoff and Jackson should be commended for taking leadership in getting this plan approved. With the Interim Final Rule soon to be released by the department, NATA now looks forward to working with the DHS to discuss some of the issues that remain unresolved on this policy. The requirement to equip all DCA flights with an armed Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) raises questions for our operators. We hope that as the plan moves forward, the DHS allows more than just federally trained marshals to serve as LEOs on these flights. Coordinating effective use of such a small pool of approved LEOs will make it more difficult for operators to find armed officers to serve on these flights to DCA. A more progressive solution would be to broaden the pool of qualified officers to include local law enforcement officials, including police officers and county sheriffs, provided they meet certain specifications. There is no reason why local LEOs cannot be counted on to perform the same tasks as federally trained officers on these operations. Armed law enforcement officials are considered one of the last lines of defense on these flights, and offering a wider pool from which to find qualified officers benefits both the operator as well as the government. NATA also has questions concerning who will be responsible for compensating the LEOs aboard non-scheduled aircraft using DCA. The association feels that placing the burden for compensating these officials on aviation businesses will undoubtedly serve as a deterrent for using the airport. The federal government should take responsibility for this compensation, as it is an issue of both local and national security. The costs associated with paying for an armed officer for what could amount to a significant period of time will make it quite difficult for many air carriers to participate in the program. NATA notes that scheduled airlines are not required to pay a specific fee when LEOs serve on their flights. While we have concerns with some of the provisions, we nonetheless wholeheartedly welcome this opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities and security of our industry. However, we want to make it clear that the department and Congress should absolutely make certain that these requirements do not cause undue financial or logistical burdens that will ultimately leave most operators unable to use the airport. Non-scheduled air charter operators are more than willing to make the reasonable necessary upgrades in security and comply with any regulation put forth by DHS that will allow them to use the airport, but the government should take the steps necessary to ensure that as many qualified operators as possible are able to take part in this important program. Overall, we are delighted to see the government moving forward with a plan to allow general aviation at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in the coming months. This plan is long overdue; but now that it is here, we can demonstrate to the rest of the country and the world the safety and security of the general aviation industry. Conclusion We ask that as Congress continues to seek ways to improve the overall security of our aviation system, you recognize the implications of security directives on all facets of the industry, including non-scheduled operations. On-demand air charter and other general aviation operators participate in a number of federally sanctioned security programs yet are still deemed unregulated and unsecured by many. Non-scheduled operators participating in programs certified by the TSA should be allowed the same airspace and airport access as the scheduled airlines and should be recognized as being just as secure as the airlines. As we move forward in a post-September 11 world, NATA is eager to work with both the Congress and the Administration in easing any concerns you may have about the security of our operations. NATA has worked well with officials on Capitol Hill and in the agencies to foster relationships that have proved beneficial for everyone involved. Our relationship with the TSA has never been stronger, and I would like to take the opportunity to commend Admiral Stone on the job he did as TSA Administrator. We look forward to working with the new leadership of the TSA as well as others in the government to spread the message that general aviation is paying close attention to the security of our industry. Thank you again for this opportunity to testify, and I look forward to answering any questions you may have.
Mr. Edward BolenPresident and Chief Executive OfficerNational Business Aviation Association