9/12/01 4:55:25 PM Â— The tragic events that occurred Tuesday morning are
unprecedented in our nation’s aviation history. The count of lost lives can’t
even be comprehended at this point. AOPA offers its deepest sympathies to
those families affected by the catastrophic acts of terrorism that have taken
place. As aviators, we know flying is demanding, and aviation accidents like
these are tragically final. Eight pilots, and their cabin crews, were among
the 266 deaths attached to the four air transport category planes that
crashed. One airline accident by itself is monumental news. Four accidents
was beyond anyone’s imagination.
AOPA, representing pilots and owners of general aviation aircraft, recognizes
the climate of change that will eventually be debated on our aviation
freedoms in the United States. As we have done for more than 62 years, we
will be the advocate for “reasonable” and sensible access to our nation’s
airspace. The organization was founded to protect the growing threat to
access to G.A. flying as World War II appeared imminent.
Right now, the U.S. government has mandated our National Airspace System
unavailable to use by not only general aviation, but the also the airlines.
AOPA and the FAA communicate almost hourly on trying to make information
available to the many pilots stranded at airports away from home, to the
flight schools who only want to fly the local pattern, and to those who live
far from the sites of these terrorist acts unable to understand why they are
prohibited from flying. But these decisions are not just within the sole
purview of the Federal Aviation Administration. They involve the secretary of
Transportation, the President, and those who handle the security of our
Just as we do not expect general aviation to be treated any differently than
the airlines and will work hard to ensure such, also we cannot expect that GA
should be flying any sooner than the commercial carriers. There have been
reports of isolated flying already, and those who violate these rules impede
the conscientious pilots honoring the special notice. In the last 12 hours
there have been a variety of predictions and misinformation handed out by the
FAA, some through the flight service station system. AOPA will keep the home
page of this Web site updated with the most factual information we can
obtain, with the goal of seeing that when the notam on the NAS being open is
issued, you will read it here first, and our hope that it will be a general
aviation airplane that first makes use of this returned freedom to fly.
We will get our Cirrus up soon…
Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta has announced the Federal
Aviation Administration will allow a limited reopening of the nationÂ’s
commercial airspace system in order to allow flights that were diverted
yesterday to continue to their original destinations.
The Secretary also announced that the FAA is temporarily extending the ground
stop order imposed yesterday while additional security measures are being
Â“Safety is always of paramount importance, and in these extraordinary times
we intend to be vigilant,Â” Mineta said. Â“We remain committed to resuming
commercial flights as soon as possible.
Â“As the President said last night, these despicable terrorist attacks have
shaken the foundation of our greatest buildings, but have not shaken the
foundation of this great nation,Â” the Secretary said.
Â“As America watches the efforts of our heroic emergency responders and rescue
personnel, we keep the victims and their families in our prayers,Â” he also
Mineta said the FAA would permit flights today only in special limited
circumstances. Flights diverted as a result of yesterdayÂ’s order will be
allowed to continue to their original destination under vastly tightened
security guidelines. Only passengers on the original flights will be allowed
to re-board, and only after airports and airlines have implemented strict
screening measures. Airlines will also be allowed to reposition empty
aircraft, he said.
Mineta said a variety of stepped-up security measures will be instituted at
the airports once they re-open. These measures include:
A thorough search and security check of all airplanes and airports before
passengers are allowed to enter and board aircraft.
We will discontinue curbside check-in at the airport. We would ask that all
passengers go to the ticket counters to check in.
We will also discontinue off-airport check in. We can no longer allow
passengers to check in for their flights at hotels or other venues.
Passengers must check in at the airports.
We must reserve boarding areas for passengers only. Only ticketed
passengers will be allowed to proceed past airport screeners to catch their
Vehicles near airport terminals will be monitored more closely.
Â“I know all Americans want us to move as quickly and prudently as possible to
return our transportation system to normal,Â” Mineta said, Â“and we will as
soon as we can do so safely.Â”
I think you’re probably right about more scrutiny for general aviation and, in some respects, rightly so. Think about the ease of a terrorist chartering a bizjet and not having to worry about any security at all. Background checks for pilots/students may not be a bad idea either. Maybe AOPA should take the lead before something happens and the government comes down hard on general aviation.
I am very fearful of what will happen to GA in the wake of this event. In times of crisis, personal freedom takes a backseat to national security and there will be few public figures who will be willing to stand up and defend our right to fly. Having just watched the Secretary of Transportation speak and monitoring the AOPA and FAA sites for news all day, nowhere has general aviation been mentioned anywhere.
If and when we are allowed to fly again, the rules will be vastly different IMHO. Background checks for everyone holding a pilot’s license, social security numbers for all passengers on board, mandatory flight plans VFR or IFR for any flight traveling anywhere near a population center including all class B,C,D or E airspace.
The political leadership will have to make changes to ‘protect’ the public. General Aviation which is our collective hobby and passion is about to be singled out as a potential security risk. Who cares about the rights of a few people who are wealthy enough to own a plane and crazy enough to fly one.
As mentioned before, my thoughts are first and foremost with the victims of this tragedy. The loss of life is staggering but the real goal of this attack was to bring fear and terror to America. It is important that we take some time to mourn the loss but it is equally important that we remain a free nation. The loss of a single liberty no matter how small is a win for all those that hate.