However, I and the majority of pilots in this country realize that this is little more than an exaggerated response to an unfounded threat. The reality is that these regulations would likely do little more than severely impact general aviation in a very negative manner. And, more importantly, it would set a dangerous precedent for government oversight that could easily trickle down into regulations affecting the small aircraft I and most of the readers of this blog fly.
The fact of the matter is most general aviation aircraft pose no security threat. Their size and payload simply aren't sufficient for any sort of significant act of terror. The TSA is proposing that operators of these aircraft undergo extensive criminal history checks, security screening of baggage, checking passengers for matches against the no-fly list, and paying for sanctioned audits to ensure compliance with these regulations. Put simply, the only real effects this will have on aviation are out-of-control costs and a marked impact on the convenience and utility of GA.
As pilots and, most critically, citizens of the United States we can't just let the government take away more and more of our rights. I'm absolutely not condoning doing anything that puts us more at risk of a terrorist attack or otherwise threatens our security. However, needless regulations and an increasingly restrictive attitude towards general aviation do nothing of the sort. We must put a stop to this nonsense and ensure that aviation in fact lives on. As Benjamin Franklin once said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
So what am I asking of you?
1) Please, please, please submit your comments to the TSA opposing this proposed regulation. You can enter them through their online submission form, just click the yellow icon under Add Comments to the right of TSA-2008-0021-0001. This must be done by February 27th!
2) Write your representatives in Congress with the same message you send to the TSA. If you don't know who they are, click the following links for the House and the Senate.
For more information on this situation, visit Max Trescott's (2008 National Flight Instructor of the Year) website for a great post with many more details. You can also find more commentary on this issue at AOPA's Advocacy page for GA Security.
UPDATE: If you even remotely care about this issue, I urge you to read Capt. Steve Tupper's letter to the TSA about this issue. It's one of the most eloquent, pointed, and scathing responses I've ever read.
"You’ll note that I’ve largely neglected the TSA’s disingenuously-phrased specific requests for comments. But I’ll be happy to directly address one, namely the weight cutoff for the LASP.Well played, sir.
"If I were the TSA, I’d avoid the neighborhood of 12,100 pounds. There’s a hornet’s nest of public outcry waiting for you at 12,100 pounds. About 1,375 of those pounds consist of a Merlin engine. That engine and the rest of the airplane constitute a large part of the reason that you hold the jobs that you do and that you have promulgated the NPRM in English instead of German or Japanese."