LASP Not Winning Support In Washington
The Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over the TSA, thinks the TSA’s Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) should not go forward without industry input. The Chairman, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (Mississippi), submitted a letter to the TSA stating his opinion that LASP, as proposed appears “unfeasible, or overly burdensome to the industry.” In a meeting last week, members of the House aviation subcommittee told the TSA that LASP goes too far in applying commercial security regulations to general aviation operations, according to AOPA representatives who attended the meeting. The guidelines that would be imposed by LASP could not only have a stifling effect on operators, but airports as well, and impede economic growth — especially in rural areas, according to its opponents.
Rules under consideration apply to aircraft weighing over 12,500 pounds and would impose background checks and fingerprinting for pilots and crew. It would force operators to check passengers against terrorist watch lists and screen baggage. All of which, say LASP’s opponents, requires space that operators may currently use for something else and employees operators may not currently have while discouraging though inconvenience the business that might pay for those positions.
Aviation Funding Uncertain
The DOT may not be able to fund aviation programs at levels previously assumed because of declines in actual revenues generated by the excise taxes that fund the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). In the report released last week the GAO says that going forward, the forecasts of future revenues have also declined corresponding with a drop in passenger traffic, airfares, and fuel consumption. On top of that, the Fund’s uncommitted balance has been shrinking since 2001. The GAO also warned that timely reauthorization of the FAA’s funding is important to the initiation of programs like NextGen infrastructure development. Meanwhile, AOPA has joined with 16 other industry groups in signing a letter that presses the House Transportation Committee to derive 25-percent of the FAA’s budget from the general tax fund. That increase funds (up from 18 percent), according to the letter, could go a long way toward NextGen development.
NextGen air traffic control development will require an additional $1 billion per year to implement, according to AOPA. Extracting 25 percent from the General Fund “will generate huge economic and environmental benefits, as well as boost the economy as a whole,” according to the joint letter.