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Monday, 22 June, 2009

DHS Inspector General Report Reviews General Aviation Security


June 22, 2009

What’s at Issue
A report prepared by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (IG), at the request of Representative Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX), chairwoman of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection, summarizes the current state of security in general aviation.

Why it’s Important
With contentious security issues such as Security Directive 08G and the Large Aircraft Security Program affecting the general aviation industry, this report, created by an office independent of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), bolsters the industry’s position that the threat posed by general aviation does not warrant the severe restrictions and regulations that the TSA has proposed.

Major Provisions
The IG’s report provides the following important information:

  • Overall assessment of the threat from general aviation: “We determined that General Aviation presents only limited and mostly hypothetical threats to security.”
    • The report also found that “various government and industry studies have concluded that the risks associated with general aviation are relatively limited” and “the small size, lack of fuel capacity and minimal destructive power of most general aviation aircraft make them unattractive to terrorists.”
  • A review of regulatory, procedural and voluntary changes implemented by government agencies and general aviation stakeholders since 2001.
  • Assessment of the effectiveness of industry measures to increase security voluntarily:  “Steps general aviation airport owners and manager have taken to enhance security are positive and effective.”
  • The report also addresses a story released by KHOU News in Houston, TX, titled “Is Houston a sitting duck for Terrorism?”  The story involved an undercover reporter, with a hidden camera, gaining access to the AOA at several Houston general aviation airports.  The IG report determines that while the reporter was able to get onto the AOA at several airports, there were no “violations of GA guidelines or any federal aviation regulations.”  The report concluded, “Houston is not a sitting duck for terrorism.”

NATA Position
Once again, a government report has stated what we in the industry have known for many years, in spite of what sensationalist news reporters may claim: general aviation presents a very limited threat and vigilance and practical, targeted measures instituted by our industry have been successful in limiting what threat that does exist.  NATA continues to believe that the best course of action for further securing general aviation is a partnership between government agencies and the industry that addresses issues based upon actual threat/vulnerability assessments and allows affected individuals a voice in finding solutions.  NATA will continue to work with its members, government agencies and Congress to ensure that a sensible approach to security that does not disable our vital industry is applied to general aviation.

The DHS Office of Inspector General’s report titled TSA’s Role in General Aviation Security is dated May 2009 and has been released to the public.

Click here to view the report.

Staff Contact: Mike France
Manager, Regulatory Affairs

View in PDF format.

For general press inquiries, contact Shannon Chambers at 703-298-1347 or

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has been the voice of aviation business for over 75 years. Representing nearly 2,300 aviation businesses, NATA’s member companies provide a broad range of services to general aviation, the airlines and the military and NATA serves as the public policy group representing the interests of aviation businesses before Congress and the federal agencies.