Sorry for not keeping everyone posted about the TSA's public hearing. Due to the nasty weather, slippery roads, and delayed trains, I was not able to make it out to Chicago. I did however write a short essay about the matter and submitted it electronically as a public comment. I am also going to send a letter to my local congressman about the issue. Below is my reasoning why the TSA's Large Aircraft Security Program is a bad thing:
As a sixteen year old student pilot, I take great pride in saying "I have accomplished something that less than one percent of the American population has completed; piloting an aircraft". As most of us know, the feeling, challenge, and most importantly, the accomplishment of piloting an aircraft is simply indescribable. As an aviation writer, I enjoy sharing my experiences and opinions involving aviation. Today I am here to express my opinion regarding the TSA's Large Aircraft Security Program.
Even though I pilot a Cessna 152, I find the proposed rules to be set on what the TSA defines as "Large Aircraft" to be unfair, unjust, and unnecessary. One thing that I struggle to comprehend is the reason why these security changes are being proposed. According to the very first page of the docket, the proposals are being made "to enhance the security of general aviation" (Department of Homeland Security 64790). Using the National Traffic Safety Board's online accident and incident database, a total of zero records from the past six years were referenced while searching the keywords "terror, hijack, and non-certified pilot." Based on the records of the NTSB, there is substantial evidence to demonstrate that more security need not be applied to general aviation.
Another major concern for all of general aviation is the cost of implementing and maintaining the proposed security program. The TSA estimates the ten year cost of the program to amount to approximately $1.4 billion dollars. I firmly believe that $1.4 billion dollars is an extreme amount for security that is not required for the safety of our Nation. The majority of the implementation costs (83.6%) will be delegated to new aircraft operators. With the informed aircraft purchaser aware of these added stipulations, most prospective buyers will be discouraged from purchasing a "large aircraft." This program will add significant costs and restrictions to aircraft buyers and could potentially hurt the "large aircraft market."
The specification of the 12,500 pound classifier goes unexplained. Nowhere in the TSA's Docket do they explain the justifications of that specific number. Simply defining a number without reason indicates a lack of strong reasoning for the plan. That lack of reasoning raises the concern of a further weight restriction. Before you know it, the TSA will be proposing that all aircraft be operated in the manner that commercial airlines are operating. General aviation and commercial airlines operate very differently. The TSA needs to recognize this and accept that there is nothing wrong with the current security situation. The common phrase, "If it's not broken, don't fix it," can be very appropriately applied in this situation. Without a reason for the implementation of the program and the specifications of the weight requirement, the large aircraft security program lacks a realistic and appropriate application.