Tuesday, February 24, 2009


[click image to enlarge]

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has proposed a new set of plan for regulating large aircraft not covered by current regulations for the airlines. The Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) covers aircraft over 12,500 lbs (takeoff weight). The program basically takes the TSA regulations used by the airlines - prohibited items, identification checks, air marshals - and applies them to smaller aircraft, such as private jets. The example I heard today was Tiger Woods not being able to take his golf clubs on a private jet because they could be used as a weapon to take over the plane. While many in our class warfare society won't boo-hoo the rich losing some privileges, the larger issue is government's further limitation on our freedom.

In this time of recession, the proposed LASP will hurt general aviation. It will harm pilots, owner/operators, and small airports due to both excessively increased costs and loss of business. Small airports will also be harmed with the expense of enforcing the regulations. But even in economic prosperity, the LASP is the wrong direction for the TSA. From its beginnings in Dayton, Ohio, then typified by Charles Lindbergh, aviation has been synonymous with freedom. The concept and reality of man breaking free of the earth and going where he wills it are ingrained in the American spirit. America has always been the standard bearer of aviation as a symbol of personal freedom, the impetus for flying in the first place. The proposed LASP takes away much of this freedom and diminishes us as a people.

I'm writing this because the Air Force and aviation in general never had a better friend than cartoonist Milton Caniff. Flying became the focus of his strip 'Terry & the Pirates' during wartime. Flight was the root and vocation of his next hero, 'Steve Canyon'. With the LASP, Canyon couldn't have been so freewheeling in his converted C-54. His company, Horizons Unlimited, would have to change its moniker.

This isn't just about private jets. Remote areas of the country served by airplane, such as much of Alaska, will be hard hit. Historic preservationists like those maintaining old B-17s will be hamstrung. Those who fly aircraft under the LASP's 12,500 lb weight requirement? You're next.

The TSA has a website open for public comment until February 27th.


t-dub said...

Um... not sure why this has you so worked up. (Is this Rush's latest outrage?) The Kansas City Star does a better job explaining the reasoning behind the idea:

...the TSA contends that smaller planes pose a real security threat.

As the risks associated with commercial planes have been reduced over time, “terrorists may view general aviation aircraft as more vulnerable and thus attractive targets,” the TSA wrote in the Federal Register last October.

“If hijacked and used as a missile, these aircraft would be capable of inflicting significant damage.”

This doesn't sound all that unreasonable to me.

Matt Tauber said...

I wasn't confused by the reasoning behind it. The TSA proposal gives four scenarios, each with the basic theme of 'plane as missile'. We shouldn't limit freedoms because the limitation seems reasonable to some. I'm sure GITMO seems reasonable to a lot of people, while you may contend its a violation of the Constitution. It also seems more reasonable when done incrementally. First large aircraft, then small aircraft, then, what? Public transportation, probably, like buses and subways, then private transportation. It gets more unreasonable by the minute.

t-dub said...


t-dub said...

Oops, link didn't embed. Here it is.

Jim said...

"Historic preservationists like those maintaining old B-17s will be hamstrung."

I think when you write hamstrung you mean ended. If this becomes law say bye bye to historic aircraft selling rides.

My problem with this regulation is the artificial weight limit imposed. So heavy aircraft are more likely to be hijacked? Really?

Btw, now that the comment period is over, TSA has come up with a new idea to kill aviation See: