|Tuesday, January 6, 2009 11:59 AM |
By: Rick Pedraza
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The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is holding a meeting today to discuss a proposed security plan from the Department of Homeland Security to extend to private aviation many of the same passenger security rules and inconveniences imposed on commercial airlines, the New York Times reports.
The proposal, which could affect up to 10,000 private air operators, recreational fliers and jet ownership companies of any plane weighing more than 12,500 pounds, would require pilots to undergo background checks and passengers and their luggage to withstand government scrutiny prior to boarding flights.
Private jet owners angered by the proposal will hold a public protest today – the first of five scheduled nationwide – at Westchester County Airport in New York State to argue that the proposed rule will have a major impact on general aviation.
“Businesses have airplanes in order to transport what they produce, sometimes because it’s too difficult or impossible to carry onto an airliner,” Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation Association tells The Times. “Tool companies that can’t take their own products, sporting goods companies that can’t take their own products on to their own airplanes, that doesn’t make sense.”
According to the TSA, terrorists may view private aviation as vulnerable due to lax security measures, prompting the proposed regulation.
“What we’re looking to do is address risk based on size and weight,” says TSA spokesman Christopher White. “Whether it’s public or private doesn’t matter. It’s based on the weight of the plane.”
Bolen, however, argues the size of the aircraft the TSA is targeting “is very, very small. To suggest that an airplane weighing 12,500 pounds is similar to a commercial transport airplane doesn’t hold water.”
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