In this business, I have to keep my finger on the pulse of aviation. Imagine my surprise when I received a memo from the National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA), noting that on the subject of airport security, that complacency is not an effective countermeasure against terrorist attacks.
I was intrigued by the statement, and read on. “Federal security officials remain concerned that foreign nationals will gain access to general aviation aircraft and use that access to commit a terrorist act,” the memo read. “The range of possible terrorist scenarios is broad and not limited to suicide flights, and although no specific security threat has been prioritized by Federal officials, members are urged to actively and permanently revise their security procedures and practices to at least comply with the Security Best Practices identified by NBAA’s Safety Committee.”
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU?
- Maintain your plane locked up at all times, even if you store it in a hangar! Hangar locks are not the most robust in the world, so depending on them alone may be inviting problems.
- When you are at your airport, or ANY airport, remain vigilant to any unusual activities. If you see anything suspicious, NOTIFY AIRPORT AUTHORITIES!
- If people you don’t know come around and start snooping around airplanes, approach them and ask them a few questions as to what they are doing there. If you see anything suspicious, NOTIFY AIRPORT AUTHORITIES!
- Expect that your airplane may be disabled by prop locks at some airports. When I recently visited an east coast airport, I found a well-padded, really big lock and chain around my prop. My plane wasn’t going anywhere until my identification was verified by the FBO, at which point the lock and chain were removed from my airplane.
- Review the FAA’s Security Information Advisory Reminder for GA Pilots
The NBAA’s memo went on to state what is probably painfully obvious for all GA pilots. “Please note that any terrorist act committed using a general aviation aircraft likely would result in undesirable and long-term restrictions on all general aviation activity in the United States.” I hate to say this statement is prophetic, but consider this: when commercial airliners with high security were hijacked, ALL planes were grounded. After commercial services started back up, GA was the last to get going again. If a GA plane is used in an attack, the repercussions from the misinformed public could be devastating.
GET ENERGIZED AND ENGAGED — take common sense steps to deter use of your aircraft my unwelcome hands … or someone of legislative persuasion may do it for you! Buy your own prop lock for your airplane AND USE IT EVERY TIME YOU SHUT DOWN. Maintain your plane locked up at all times. Don’t keep a spare set of keys in the hangar, just in case your forget your own at home. Look for additional security measures such as prop and wheel locks. Finally, know who is at your airport, and what they are doing there. As always, if you see anything suspicious, IMMEDIATELY NOTIFY THE AIRPORT AUTHORITIES! The flying freedom you save with these assertive actions will be your own!
Spot any suspicious activity at YOUR airport? Notify the authorities toll free at 866-GA-SECURE (866-427-3287)! For more information, visit the National Business Aviation Association advisory site.