The absence of security standards for private planes leaves a gaping hole in national security. Unlike commercial airliners, private planes have gotten off easily, especially for international flights. Custom regulations apply to international passengers and crews but there is no system in place for security checks – until now.
The Department of Homeland Security has proposed new regulations that would require operators of international private plane flights to and from the U.S. to electronically provide lists of passengers and crew at least an hour before departure. Also proposed is limitations on what can be taken on board.
The new rules would cover planes weighing more than 12,500 pounds, which would include most jets.
“Increasingly, we have to look at general aviation as a threat vector, not because of a specific threat, but simply because the difference between security in commercial aviation and security in general aviation has grown and that difference creates a vulnerability,” Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff said last fall.
Resistance to the proposed regulations seems to be based on privacy issues. The comings and goings of the occupants of private jets has until now been able to travel “under the radar.” Which of course is the problem. The National Business Aviation Association–the lobbying group for the private jet industry–says that checking passenger names against the terrorist list could be an intrusion of privacy and that the information would not be secure. It also says the rules are “overly broad,” expensive and cumbersome.
“Companies that use jets add that if flight information leaks out, their secret business plans and the stealthy movement of their executives could get out. The real issue here is time and privacy. People take private jets for two reasons: to save time and the hassle of airport screening and delays, and to be able to travel, at any time, without the public knowing where they are going.” Wall Street Journal
This seems like a weak argument against the potential for a threatening incident against U.S. security. It hardly seems a sacrifice to submit to a quick computer check and cargo review. And the clientele certainly has a crew that could easily handle a security check.
At least there will be fewer fliers in private planes with the current global economy in turmoil. Fewer people to complain. I seriously doubt that there will be a public outcry of “Foul!” over this new infringement upon the wealthy.