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Security at Addington Field may tighten in the next few years if the federal government creates new rules for general aviation airports — or if Elizabethtown lands a commuter flight service.
Roger Lawson, a manager at Addington Field and owner of Elizabethtown Flying Service, said if a passenger service started there it would have to abide by the same security rules as a larger operation — such as Louisville International Airport. Otherwise, he doesn’t know what new rules the Transportation Security Administration might adopt for small airports.
Security measures are minimal at the nation’s 2,800-plus small landing fields which serve recreational planes and business jets, according to the Courier-Journal. These facilities often operate on slim budgets.
Managers of small airports keep their eye on things, Lawson said.
“We’re in pretty good shape because we have people here 24 hours a day,” he said.
He said there has been a big push among those involved with aviation to be aware of security and watch for suspicious activity. It has worked well, he said.
Plus, Lawson said he doesn’t feel there is a big security risk at general aviation airports.
The TSA next year is expected to propose new security procedures for small airports, according to the Courier-Journal. These may include criminal record checks for flight crews based on fingerprints, matching passengers’ names against federal watch lists and undergoing biennial security audits.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association on Tuesday said it expected a scaled-down proposal — one that does not call for third party audits or watch list matching, for instance.
“The TSA has confirmed that a new proposal for general aviation security would not target small airports; instead, the proposal would focus on aircraft,” according to the AOPA.
The agency last year withdrew a security proposal after pressure from Congress and the general aviation community, the group said.
Also last year, John Sammon, assistant administrator for the TSA, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives.
“As risk associated with air carriers and commercial operators has been reduced or mitigated, terrorists may view general aviation aircraft as more vulnerable and thus attractive targets,” he said. “If hijacked and used as a missile, many of these aircraft would be capable of inflicting significant damage.”
Addington Field already has a gate which, when shut, requires a security code. Eventually, a fence will be built around the airport, Lawson said. More fencing would become a higher priority if commuter flights resumed here.
If that were to happen, the TSA would pay for its own security staff and equipment, Lawson said.
The Airport Board has been trying for a few years to bring in a commuter service. Consultant Luke B. Schmidt earlier this week was positive about the effort.
“We’ve made enormous progress,” he said.
John Friedlein can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or firstname.lastname@example.org.