Thursday, November 19, 2009

TSA Proposes Aircraft Repair Station Security Rule

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Wednesday published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register that would effect security regulations for domestic and foreign aircraft repair stations, as required by the Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act. The NPRM, published at 74 Fed. Reg. 59874-90, would amend 49 CFR Part 1520 and add new Part 1554, to establish security requirements for aircraft repair stations certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The FAA currently implements extensive safety requirements for both domestic and foreign aircraft repair stations. However, TSA recognizes the distinction between safety and security, and stated in its NPRM on Wednesday that:
supplementing [FAA's] requirements with specific security measures for both foreign and domestic repair stations would further reduce the likelihood that terrorists would be able to gain access to aircraft under repair . . . the importance of requiring all aircraft repair stations to have measures in place to prevent persons from commandeering, tampering, or sabotaging aircraft has increased . . Enhancement of repair station security will mitigate the potential threat that an aircraft could be used as a weapon or that an aircraft could be destroyed.
Among other things, the proposed rule would:
  • Require repair stations to adopt and carry out a "standard security program" issued by TSA;
  • Require each security program to describe specific measures being implemented to 1) identify individuals with authorized access to the repair station, aircraft, and aircraft components; 2) control access to the repair station, aircraft, and aircraft components; 3) use escort measures for authorized visitors; 4) provide security awareness training to all employees; 5) verify employee background information; and 6) designate a security coordinator;
  • Require repair stations to allow TSA and DHS officials to enter, inspect, audit, and test property, facilities, and records relevant to repair stations; and
  • Amend 49 CFR Part 1520 to include repair station security programs as Sensitive Security Information (SSI).
The proposed rule would exempt repair stations operating on a Federal government facility, and would require different security measures for repair stations located on or adjacent to airports from those located at off-airport locations. In order to conduct a security assessment prior to implementing the standard security program, TSA would require each regulated repair station to provide assessment information, including location information and employee number and aircraft access information.

TSA solicits comments to the NPRM, which must be submitted by January 19, 2010. Comments should be identified by Docket No. TSA-2004-17131, and may be submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking portal.

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