Transportation Security Administration (TSA) boss Kip Hawley told a Senate panel that in addition to general aviation’s voluntary efforts to secure GA, the TSA was doing more screening of pilots and studying the “throw weight” of GA aircraft to determine the potential for causing harm. Currently, aircraft weighing 12,500 pounds or more used in scheduled or charter service must operate under the Twelve-Five Standard Security Program.
The FAR Part 135 Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) delivered a long-awaited briefing on its research and a preview of the coming notice of proposed rulemaking. The committee’s two-year charter comes to a close this month, and the committee met for the last time in late February.
The FAA announced today that it intends “later this year” to issue a formal notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to increase the mandatory airline pilot retirement age from 60 to 65. The planned proposal follows several other recent related actions.
Congress granted an additional 30 days (to April 1) for federal security agencies to submit a report on actions that would be required to open Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to general aviation. The report was supposed to have been completed by March 1.
The idea of mixing legal weapons with pilots is not new. Aviators of yore often carried firearms–and with good reason. There are more recent incidents that support the practice. In the mid-1960s, an airliner was taken over by a man wielding a gun who shot both pilots. In another incident a disgruntled PSA employee broke into the cockpit of a BAe 146 in 1987 and shot and killed both pilots.
An FBI/Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report that made only a few passing references to general aviation aircraft being used by terrorists nevertheless provided fodder for newspapers and broadcast news media for several days last month and prompted general aviation interest groups to activate extensive damage control.
Having missed the October 1 deadline for funding nine of the 13 government agencies that had been neglected, a lame-duck Congress made up for that lack of action after the November elections by enacting the Fiscal Year 2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act, a $388 billion “Omnibus” spending package, contained in a 3,000-page document that weighed some 14 pounds.
As anticipated, there have been numerous changes in the makeup of President Bush’s cabinet. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Tom Ridge turned in his resignation, effective February 1 or until the Senate names a successor. Ridge had the unenviable task of coordinating and integrating the activities of 22 government agencies with 180,000 employees into one department.
The 110th Congress opened for business on January 4, with the Democrats in control of the Senate and the House of Representatives. After the obligatory congratulatory oratory to honor newly elected legislators, Democrats began the process of showing that they can break the previous legislative deadlock by having both parties involved in solving the country’s problems.
Beginning today, all U.S. citizens and nonimmigrant aliens from Canada, Bermuda and Mexico entering the U.S. from within the Western Hemisphere at airports of entry will be required to present a valid passport. In lieu of a passport, U.S. citizens have been permitted to present a variety of documents to establish their identity and citizenship and right to enter the U.S.