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Fri, Jun 10, 2005

Bolen Talks To Congress: Highlights Progress, Work Needed To Enhance GA Security

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen appeared Thursday before a Senate panel to outline the variety of security measures adopted by the general aviation industry since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and to underscore the industry's continuing commitment to pursuing effective security initiatives. Bolen's remarks were made before a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to assess general aviation security in the airspace over the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

Bolen expressed appreciation to the members of the Committee for their ongoing support of efforts to reopen Reagan National Airport to general aviation, and he commended officials at DHS, TSA, the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration for their leadership on the issue.

He called the plan introduced last month by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to resume general aviation operations at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport "an important first step" in normalizing operations at the airport.

"The TSA and DHS deserve a lot of credit for coming forward with a plan for general aviation at Reagan National Airport," Bolen said.

"But even they recognize that the current plan represents only a beginning, and that it ultimately will need to be expanded to more cities and made more workable. TSA officials have stated that they will continue to review the plan and make adjustments as necessary, and we are committed to working with the Agency it implements and refines the program. We also hope that, among the positive effects of restoring general aviation at Reagan National Airport, will be a constructive dialogue on how security-qualified operators might be able to access areas with Temporary Flight Restrictions."

Bolen added that, in addition to the work done to enhance security at Reagan National Airport, the general aviation community has remained focused on the security of airspace and airports across the country.

Bolen listed several security enhancements resulting from efforts by the general aviation community and the government, including a program to report suspicious activity, a requirement for government-issued photo IDs for flight crews, and new procedures for airport and hangar security. "These and other actions have reduced the vulnerability of general aviation aircraft to terrorist activity," Bolen said.

Bolen also referred to a security initiative NBAA has supported, called the Transportation Security Administration Access Certificate (TSAAC).

The program, which is being developed by TSA, includes new voluntary security procedures for personnel, facilities, aircraft and in-flight operations. Broader implementation of TSAAC would enhance security and could be used to enhance access to currently restricted airspace. Last month, the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee included language in spending bill encouraging TSA to move forward on development of TSAAC.

Bolen concluded by observing that the coming years will require a continuing focus on security. "If there is one thing that I want to leave you with today, it is that we are committed to working with the government to implement reasonable and effective security programs. Only through trust and cooperation with our government partners will we be able to create a reasonable and effective security environment for airports and airspace here in the Washington area and across the country."

FMI: http://web.nbaa.org/public/govt/testimony/20050609.php, www.nbaa.org

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