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Mon, Jan 27, 2003

EAA: New TSA Rule 'Leaves Room for Abuse'

Looks For 'Clarification'

After ANN broke the news of the TSA's latest coup, the Experimental Aircraft Association expressed concerns regarding new final rules issued Friday by the FAA and TSA.

Those rules were mandated by Congress [not exactly; the TSA was given carte blanche to do whatever it takes to make the world safe --ed] under the Aviation Transportation Security Act of 2001 and were made effective immediately, without an opportunity for prior public comment. Under the rules, TSA can call on FAA to immediately revoke or withhold airman certificates if TSA deems an individual is a "threat to the transportation system or national security." An individual's certificates would be revoked or applications denied unless they can fully satisfy TSA that they do not pose a security threat.

Upon receiving an advance copy of the rules on January 23 [and saying nothing until Friday], EAA's Government Relations Office and Legal Advisory Council started an initial review of provisions contained within the regulations. They have discovered a number of troubling aspects that set precedents contrary to established legal proceedings relating to the revocation of FAA airman's certificates.

"There is no question that national security is the highest priority for our government and EAA supports those efforts," said Tom Poberezny, EAA President. "We at EAA understand the mission of TSA but the process as written leaves room for abuse by those in the future who may not exercise the proper due diligence."

EAA Isn't 'Opposing;' It 'Seeks Clarification:'

EAA is especially concerned about the procedural aspects implemented by the new rules. Among the specifics that must be clarified:

  • Unclear definition of what constitutes a security threat. For those who hold airman certificates (pilot, repairman, mechanic, etc.), the guidelines as to what would make them a security threat, and trigger TSA action against them, remain unclear.
  • Limited access by accused to information regarding their case. Under the rules, airmen would have little access to specific evidence that supported the revocation process. There are some options within the appeals process to request evidence, but much of that evidence may be labeled sensitive or classified, and therefore remain unavailable. Such classified information is exempt from provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.
  • No opportunities for hearings or impartial appeals process. EAA officials are concerned that there is no option for an individual erroneously accused of being a security threat to meet with FAA or TSA to refute the allegations.

EAA will continue to review the new rules and will submit formal comments to FAA and TSA prior to the end of the public-comment period on March 25, 2003. The public-comment period was established to provide an opportunity for the public to suggest modifications to the rules.

EAA, which met with TSA on Thursday, January 23, to discuss this and other security-related issues, will also continue working with FAA and TSA, requesting additional clarification on how these new rules will be administered.

EAA will update its members and other aviation enthusiasts on the specifics and ramifications of these rules, so that they may use the information as a resource when developing their own comments to the regulations.

FMI: www.eaa.org

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