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NBAA reiterates importance of proactive stance on security

July 18, 2012, Washington, D.C. - In a subcommittee hearing today, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) noted significant accomplishments by the government and general aviation industry to improve security in the years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and recommended further improvements to a program for training flight school students from other countries in the United States.


July 18, 2012
By Carey Fredericks

“Since the events of 9/11, NBAA and indeed the entire general aviation community has been very proactive in enhancing security by developing and implementing a large number of workable and effective security measures," NBAA Vice President, Safety, Security, Operations & Regulation Doug Carr told lawmakers on the House Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Transportation Security.

Carr specifically noted the industry's work with federal authorities to improve security at general aviation airports. For example, NBAA has partnered with the DHS and TSA in adopting a host of security enhancements and developing a list of Best Practices for Business Aviation Security to assist operators in complying with TSA regulations and maintaining safe and secure operations.

Carr noted that the collaborative government-industry approach to security in the years since 9/11 has also been applied to TSA’s implementation of its program for screening student pilot candidates from other countries.

“The goal of the program, we believe, is vital in protecting our national security,” Carr said. “While the program initially created a substantial burden for foreign citizens seeking flight training in the United States, recent program changes and continued feedback from the flight training industry have produced improvements not only in the program, but also for the flight-training candidates.”

While TSA has made great strides towards improving the clearance process for vetting foreign flight training candidates, Carr offered recommendations to bring further clarity and consistency to the program. For example, a security clearance could be assigned to an individual student for a certain length of time, rather than for specific training.

"We believe that a candidate-centric review should suffice for a defined period of time, perhaps five years, regardless of the number of training events," he said.

Other recommendations included standardized guidance over the program, reducing confusion over individual inspector interpretations of the rules; and, eliminating the current duplicative process requiring both the owner and operator to submit candidates for clearance when dry leasing time in flight simulators.

“We strongly believe that the U.S. flight-training industry is the best in the world,” Carr said. “Thousands of jobs in the United States are supported directly from the flight-training industry and our policies and regulations should not only ensure that flight candidates do not represent a security threat to our nation, but also continue to appropriately support the U.S. as the preeminent flight training location.”

Others invited to testify before the committee included Jens Hennig, Vice-President – Operations at the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA); Steven Lord, Director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues with the Government Accountability Office; Kerwin Wilson, General Manager – General Aviation Programs at TSA; and John Woods, Assistant Director – National Security Investigations at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.