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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedTSA, DHS chiefs announce new GA security awareness campaign, streamlined eAPIS
By Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside
 

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at the announcement of a new GA security initiative. Photo by Jim Koepnick

The federal government's transportation-security leadership visited EAA AirVenture 2010 on opening day, meeting with general aviation organization heads and announcing two new initiatives designed to enhance and simplify the industry's ongoing response to terrorism threats.

In the first of two announcements, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator John S. Pistole, in his first visit to AirVenture, told attendees his agency plans to expand its existing "If You See Something, Say Something" security-awareness campaign to encompass general aviation.

The campaign, first implemented by the New York City subway system, aims to "raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism, crime, and other threats and emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity" to the proper authorities, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the TSA's parent.

Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, another AirVenture first-timer, said the DHS will streamline the existing pre-screening process for pilots and passengers using general aviation for international travel.

Beginning as early as September 1, 2010, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) existing Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) will allow GA pilots and operators to submit a single manifest, streamlining what had been a cumbersome process involving both CBP and the TSA.

Border-crossing cross-agency complexity
In the years since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, international flight operations required a waiver from the TSA. That requirement, the continuing need for which was first questioned by EAA staff while meeting with DHS/TSA personnel during last year's AirVenture, will be met through the new, streamlined manifesting procedures announced Monday.

According to the DHS, the new procedures will fulfill both CBP reporting and TSA international waiver requirements while promoting a "department-wide approach to maintaining robust general aviation security requirements."

Both agencies-the TSA and the CBP-are within the DHS.

See something? Say something
Applying the "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign to general aviation marks the second major expansion of the program since June, according to DHS.

The department said it will continue to expand the campaign nationally with public education materials, advertisements, and other outreach tools in the coming months.

The campaign's purpose is to engage travelers, businesses, community organizations, and the general public to exercise and maintain vigilance and to play an active role in reporting potential security threats.

EAA President Tom Poberezny introduced Napolitano and Pistole to AirVenture attendees, noting the pair's visit to AirVenture and the two program announcements were "important steps toward ensuring continued general aviation security and access."

"We ask that general aviation pilots and community members join us in helping to keep general aviation secure through 'If You See Something, Say Something,'" the TSA's Pistole added, "and by helping to develop new programs and initiatives, such as our new streamlined vetting system for international general aviation travel."

Secretary Napolitano labeled the "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign a "force-multiplier." Noting the high level of interest and cooperation expressed by general aviation organization leaders during her visit to AirVenture, she added it was "no surprise we picked general aviation as the second transportation sector [in which] to expand" the campaign.

The general aviation component of the "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign involves asking the public to report suspicious general aviation activity to the TSA's existing Airport Watch hotline, 1-866-GA-SECURE.

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