Security Directive a Potential “Unfunded Mandate”

As more pilots raise objections to a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security directive imposing new requirements on pilots based at air carrier airports, members of the Colorado delegation have taken note and expressed their own objections to the Department of Homeland Security.

The directive, known as Security Directive 8F (SD-08F), requires pilots based at air carrier airports to undergo a security threat assessment and receive a security badge in order to continue to have unescorted access to their airports starting June 1. Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. John Salazar of Colorado wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urging the TSA to work with the industry to find a solution that is less burdensome for general aviation and rural airports.

Salazar, a pilot and longtime GA supporter, expressed concern with the directive’s potentially devastating effect on rural commercial service airports. He wrote that the directive “puts undue burden on rural airports and general aviation personnel” and “stifles rural aviation, which is a lifeblood for many of these smaller communities.” He said the potentially burdensome cost of implementing the directive—which was created without input from stakeholders—creates an unfunded mandate and could restrict GA access to affected airports. “Therefore, I respectfully but forcefully request that you delay the deadline for the SD, and work with industry to find a solution.”

Bennet expressed his concern that the security measures could be costly for the state’s smaller airports. He wrote, “The new identification and screening procedures would place a great burden on the industry through increased operating and staffing costs.” He said businesses would likely bear the impact of increased costs, and the TSA should develop a plan to assist affected parties. “General aviation users understand the importance of keeping our nation safe and it is in their best interest to provide safe and secure transportation services for their customers. It is critical that the TSA bring all interested parties together to share information and develop tailored, well-vetted measures.”

Information about SD-08F has been coming to pilots piecemeal in the form of unexplained mandates at their airports, causing confusion and frustration among those affected. AOPA has been working with the TSA since the directive was first released in December 2008 and has urged the agency to work with those in the industry to develop a better plan that is less burdensome and restrictive on pilots.

Editor”s Note: See CALPILOTS Letter to Secretary of Homeland Security

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