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Fri, Sep 15, 2006

Thefts Lead To Tighter Security At PA Airports

Cameras Going Up At Quakertown Airport, Others

It isn't so much a fear of terrorism, as it is petty burglary that is the driving force behind a move by the Bucks County (PA) Airport Authority to install security cameras and other measures at several Lehigh Valley-area general aviation airports.

BCCA member John Mininger says the cameras will be installed this year at Quakertown (KUKT) Airport... with other airports taking similar action to increase security. It's isn't that airport officials believe al-Qaeda will sneak in and steal a Piper, Mininger said. The move to beef up security is in response to a series of thefts of airplane radios, and other expensive equipment.

"It's a concern of our tenants that we do everything reasonably possible to try to provide as much security for their aircraft as we can," he told The Morning Call newspaper.

The thefts include an August 2004 break-in at Quakertown, in which more than $28,000 in radio equipment was pilfered. Two break-ins this year at Pennridge Airport (N70) resulted in the loss of $39,000 worth of GPS equipment, and other items.

As many large airports have seen significantly increased security measures in the five years since 9/11, smaller facilities have largely escaped notice -- relying on local efforts to spot signs of trouble.

TSA spokesman Darrin Kaysar says smaller GA airports do not pose as great a threat to national security as larger facilities -- a position also supported by pilot advocacy groups, such as the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association.

"You have to look at the number of travelers, what's the impact," he said. "TSA does not believe that general aviation facilities and airports pose a significant and immediate threat."

It seems that when it comes to general aviation... the true threat really is closer to home.



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