General Aviation Security in Oklahoma
Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission
The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission has developed recommended best practices to
be implemented at general aviation airports as needed and appropriate to further enhance
the security at Oklahoma‟s airports. These best practices are designed to assist local
airport sponsors become proactive in discussing security measures and developing a
flexible security plan for their airport. These recommendations are based on the report
developed by the General Aviation Airport Security Working Group and reported to the
Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) in November 2003. The report was
presented to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for further review.
Members of the working group included the National Association of State Aviation
Officials (NASAO), the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), National Air
Transportation Association (NATA), the General Aviation Manufacturer‟s Association
(GAMA), Airport Consultants Council, the American Association of Airport Executives
(AAAE), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), Experimental Aircraft
Association (EAA), the Helicopter Association International, and the United States
Parachute Association (USPA).
The overall emphasis of the ASAC report and these guidelines is that each airport is
unique. Each airport is encouraged to review the recommendations and guidelines and
develop a plan for their own airport, based on local conditions.
Categories of recommendations identified in the ASAC report included: People, Aircraft,
Facilities, Surveillance, and Security Communication. The Best Practices are divided into
Part I includes recommendations for airport managers and sponsors.
Part II includes recommendations for pilots, fixed base operators and airport
TSA issued guidelines for general aviation security in 2004 based on the recommendations
of the ASAC report. The guidelines are not mandatory, but coincide with the
recommendations of the ASAC report and the best practices in this document to provide a
basis to improve security at general aviation airports. Although the TSA does not have any
regulations governing general aviation airports, they are opening lines of communication.
The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission is providing this document to all general aviation
airports in the state and encourages local officials to continue the dialogue to maintain and
enhance the security of the airport. The OAC staff is available to assist in the
communication and development of a security plan.
Developing a Security Plan
Although none of the best practices are required, general aviation airports are encouraged
to review their own airport and develop a security plan that addresses issues and concerns
within each category. On the heels of the ASAC report, all general aviation airports have
a new level of responsibility for a reasonable level of security to provide enhanced
protections and limited liability to their communities.
An airport sponsor may want to consider creating a security advisory committee to
review security at the airport and develop a plan that will enhance security at the airport.
The security committee might include the airport manager, the airport commission, the
fixed base operator, city manager, police chief, fire chief, and an airport tenant.
The plan would address the physical characteristics of the airport and identify any needed
changes. In addition, a communication channel should be established with contact
information readily available. Law enforcement support will be an important component
of the security plan. The security plan may also include the following:
1. Locator map that identifies gates, hydrants, emergency shelters, buildings and
hazardous materials sites on a grid map. Emergency shut off switches for
electrical, fuel pumps, and water should be identified. Provide fire and law
enforcement with a copy of the map.
2. Establish a procedure for handling bomb threats and suspect aircraft.
3. Coordinate with the city and/or county emergency plan.
The complexity of a security plan will depend on the size of the airport and its activity
level. Each airport is unique and will be able to address the issues that pertain to its
When the security plan is completed and approved by the airport commission or advisory
board, the plan should be shared with local law enforcement and implemented, and a
copy of the plan sent to the OAC. Information for local pilots and tenants should also be
shared. In addition, the plan should be reviewed annually to identify any needed
Please send a copy of your adopted airport security plan to the Oklahoma Aeronautics
Commission, Attention: Lynn Pinson, 3700 N. Classen, Suite 240, Oklahoma City, OK.,
PART I. Recommendations for Airport Sponsors
Recommendations in this section are directed toward the airport facilities, policies, and
procedures that will deter inappropriate behavior on airport property and establish
procedures to react to suspicious behavior.
Suspicious behavior observed anywhere on airport property should be reported
immediately to local law enforcement.
Recommendations in Part II are also important for airport sponsors to understand and
communicate to airport personnel and tenants.
Airport Vehicle Access – Consider reasonable access control to airfield, ramps, and
facilities. This may include restricting access to the airside to as few locations as
possible, balancing the need for authorized access with access control. This may range
from simple gates and signage as a deterrent, to controlled gates that are locked with
keys, key pads, or cards.
Controlled access gates – If an airport has controlled gates, periodically review access
authorization including codes, cards and locks to vehicular and pedestrian gates leading
to the airside. Updating codes periodically will maintain the integrity of the system.
Pedestrian gates - Review access to ramps and consider limiting the access points for
Access/service roads - When reviewing access, remember to think about access points
from maintenance or service roads.
Lighting - Consider installing effective outdoor area lighting to help improve the security
(a) aircraft parking and hangar areas;
(b) fuel storage areas,
(c) airport access points; and
(d) other appropriate areas.
Proximity sensors may be considered.
Hangars - Secure hangar/personnel doors when unattended. Airport sponsors may
consider a policy to have hangar doors shut and locked when tenants are not in
attendance and aircraft are in the hangars. If possible, hangar space should be available
for transient pilots. Pilots should also be encouraged to lock aircraft and remove ignition
keys even while aircraft are parked inside hangars.
Signage – It is recommended that airports post appropriate signage. Wording may
include, but is not limited to, warnings against trespassing, unauthorized use of aircraft
and tampering with aircraft, as well as reporting of suspicious activity.
Sign size and message should correspond to location and intended purpose. Large,
noticeable signs at vehicle access points may be appropriate. Smaller signs at pedestrian
access points would be appropriate.
Signs with emergency contact information should include phone numbers of the nearest
responding law enforcement agency, 911, or TSA‟s 1-866-GA-SECURE, whichever is
appropriate. These signs are appropriate at vehicle and pedestrian access points.
Additional posting might be included in pilot lounges, offices, and hangars.
Fuel Facilities - Although no recommendations were included in the ASAC report, fuel
pumps should be locked when not attended. Safeguards should be made with self-service
fueling card systems to provide reasonable limits to the amount of fuel that can be
delivered to an aircraft.
Aircraft Parking – Aircraft tied down on aprons should be made as difficult as possible
for an unauthorized person to gain access, by using existing mechanisms such as door
locks, keyed ignitions, tie-downs, or using an auxiliary lock to further protect aircraft
from unauthorized use.
Airport Community Watch Program – Everyone involved in an
airport and local law enforcement play a role in watching the airport.
Airports are encouraged to create an airport watch program. AOPA has
created an excellent model with tools that airports can use. These
recommendations are not all inclusive. Additional measures that are
specific to your airport should be added as appropriate.
Include the following items as appropriate:
1. Coordinate locally with airport and city officials, pilots, businesses and/or other
2. Hold periodic meetings with the airport community.
3. Develop and circulate reporting procedures to all who have a regular presence on
4. Encourage proactive participation in aircraft and facility security and heightened
awareness measures. This should encourage airport and line staff to „query‟
unknowns on ramps, near aircraft, etc.
5. Post signs promoting the program, warning that the airport is watched. Include
appropriate emergency phone numbers on the sign.
6. Provide training to all involved for recognizing suspicious activity and
appropriate response tactics. This could include the use of a video developed by
AOPA or other media for training. The following are some recommended
a. Transient aircraft with unusual or unauthorized modifications.
b. Persons loitering for extended periods in the vicinity of parked aircraft, in
pilot lounges, or other inappropriate areas.
c. Pilots who appear to be under the control of another person.
d. Persons wishing to rent aircraft without presenting proper credentials or
e. Persons who present apparently valid credentials but who do not display a
corresponding level of aviation knowledge.
f. Any pilot who makes threats or statements inconsistent with normal uses
g. Events or circumstances that do not fit the pattern of lawful, normal
activity at an airport.
7. Use local law enforcement for airport security community education.
8. Encourage local businesses that use the airport to make their staff aware of the
airport watch program.
Law Enforcement Officer Support
Coordinate with local law enforcement and develop procedures to have security patrols
for ramp, aircraft hangar and parking areas. Special considerations should be made during
periods of heightened security. If appropriate for your area, radio communication
capabilities with local law enforcement agencies might be helpful. Airport operators
should communicate and educate local law enforcement agencies on security procedures
at the airport. This could include:
1. What a pilot license looks like;
2. Who is authorized to drive on the ramp;
3. How to get airport access (who has key); and
4. What are “normal” operations?
Airports should develop a comprehensive local phone and contact list and distribute on a
need-to-know basis. Include the following 24-hour phone numbers on the contact list:
1. Airport Manager and Airport Security Coordinator (if different than manager)
2. Airport Commission/board contact
3. Local Police or County Sheriff Department
4. County/City Emergency Manager
5. Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP)
6. Fire Department
Suspicious Activity Reporting
Report any suspicious activity on the airport grounds to local law enforcement. If it is an
emergency situation, contact 911 so that local law enforcement will handle the situation
The suspicious activity should also be reported to the national hotline at
Educate Airport Personnel, Pilots, and Tenants
1. Communicate and educate all new security policies and procedures when issued.
2. Conduct regular meetings with airport tenants and the flying public to discuss the
security issues and challenges.
3. Have a qualified, single Point of Contact (POC) for disseminating security
Agricultural Aircraft Operations – It is recommended that each owner/operator of
agricultural aircraft take appropriate steps to secure the aircraft when unattended.
Examples of existing mechanisms include throttle and control locks, propeller locks and
hidden ignition switches. When storing aircraft, it is recommended that aircraft be stored
in hangars with steel doors that are locked with electronic security systems. When
hangars are not available for storage, it is recommended that heavy equipment be parked
in the front and back of agricultural aircraft when not in use. Chemicals should be stored
in locked facilities.
Any suspicious behavior in or around agricultural aircraft should be reported immediately
to local law enforcement.
The National Agricultural Aviation Association has developed specific recommendations
for agricultural sprayers through the University of Arkansas and Kansas State University.
A copy is included in the Miscellaneous Information Section. Airport sponsors with
agricultural operations based or that make frequent stops at your airport may want to visit
PART II. Recommendations for Airport Personnel, Pilots, and Tenants
Passengers & Cargo
In the general aviation community, occupants aboard a general aviation aircraft are
known to the pilot, and in most cases, known to the airport personnel. Pilots are
encouraged to verify the identity of passengers and any cargo placed on board the
aircraft. Although no regulations or guidelines have been issued for cargo, common
sense should prevail. Any suspicious packages or activities loading cargo should be
reported to local law enforcement.
Airport sponsors are encouraged to be proactive to remind pilots through signs, posters,
or educational materials to know their passengers or verify identities.
All pilots must now carry a government-issued photo identification such as a driver
license with a picture along with their pilot license. The FAA requirement was adopted
in October 2002. In addition, the FAA began issuing new security enhanced airman
certificates in July 2003 for new pilots rather than the paper certificates.
Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) frequently change depending on the movement of
the President and current events. Pilots are urged to routinely check with Flight Services
or DUAT for TFRs before any flight – and to adhere to the flight restrictions.
Flight Schools, FBOs, Flight Instructors and Student Pilots
Background checks of foreign nationals seeking instruction in aircraft 12,500 pounds or
greater are required before flight instruction can take place. The Flight Training
Candidate Checks Program allows candidates to apply online at
https://flightschoolcandidates.gov. Flight instructors, flight schools or training centers
can obtain information about the requirements by contacting the Flight Training
Candidate Checks Program at 703-414-9777.
Vision 100, the Federal Aviation Reauthorization bill, signed into law December 12,
2003, extended this to foreign national students for aircraft 12,500 pounds or less. Rules
to implement this provision have not yet been finalized.
Vision 100 also includes a provision that flight schools will be required to conduct
security awareness program for flight school employees to increase their awareness of
suspicious circumstances and activities of individuals enrolling in or attending flight
school. Rules will be issued by TSA in 2004 to implement these provisions. An update
to this binder will be provided upon issuance of the rules.
The ASAC report suggested the following guidelines for flight schools in relation to
student pilot access to aircraft:
1. Control aircraft ignition keys so that the student cannot start the aircraft until the
instructor is ready for the flight to begin; or,
2. Limit student pilot access to aircraft keys until the student pilot has reached an
appropriate point in the training curriculum; or,
3. Consider having any student pilot check in with a specific employee (i.e.
dispatcher, aircraft scheduler, flight instructor, or other "management" official)
before being allowed access to parked aircraft; or,
4. Have the student sign or initial a form and not receive keys until an instructor or
other "management official" also signs or initials; or,
5. When available, use a different ignition key from the door lock key. The
instructor would provide the ignition key when he or she arrives at the aircraft.
Fixed base operators are encouraged to adopt the following recommendations of the
1. Verify the identity of an individual renting an aircraft by checking a government-
issued photo ID as well as the airman certificate and current medical certificate (if
necessary for that operation).
2. In addition to any aircraft-specific operational and training requirements, a first-
time rental customer should be familiarized with local airport operations,
including security procedures used at the facility.
3. Operators renting aircraft should be aware of suspicious activities and report to
appropriate officials any individuals who inquire about aircraft rental without
possessing the necessary knowledge or certifications to operate such an aircraft.
Airport managers are encouraged to develop sign-in/sign-out procedures for all transient
operators identifying their parked aircraft.
The ASAC report recommended that pilots should make it as difficult as possible for an
unauthorized person to gain access to their airplanes.
1. Use existing mechanisms such as door locks, keyed ignitions, hangaring the
aircraft or using an auxiliary lock to further protect aircraft from unauthorized
2. Use commercially available options for auxiliary locks, including locks for
propellers, throttle and prop controls, and tie-downs.
Lock hangar doors, remove aircraft ignition keys, and lock aircraft doors to prevent
unauthorized access or tampering with aircraft.