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LETTER: Wire service story missed boat on general aviation safety

The Review-Journal recently published an Associated Press story that missed or mischaracterized some key points about small-airplane security (“U.S. issues hacking security alert for small planes”).

First, the article pointed to a recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notice, implying it was focused only on cybersecurity concerns for small, “general aviation” aircraft. In fact, the notice applies to all aircraft, from airliners on down.

Second, the story arguably misrepresented the nature of the potential security breach involved. For example, the piece failed to fully explain that for the scenario to occur, an individual would need to board an aircraft, dismantle its avionics system, locate a certain, small piece of technology and effectively disable it.

The reason such a relatively complex scenario hasn’t unfolded — the reason TSA audits have never found general aviation airplanes to be a security concern — is that the industry has always made security a top priority, with a host of measures that harden aircraft from threats. An Airport Watch program includes a toll-free reporting number directly to the TSA. Pilots carry tamper-resistant, government-issued ID, and passengers on many general aviation flights undergo strict background checks. The government cross-checks records for airmen and monitors aircraft sales to find suspicious activity.

These are the facts about general aviation security.

— The writer is president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association.

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