Austin Crash Exposes Security Gap at Small Airports

Attack revives debate on security at small airports
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2010 6:31 AM CST
Beth Ann Jenkins, President of Pilot's Choice Aviation stands by an aircraft at the Georgetown Municipal Airport in Georgetown, Texas. Joe Stack launched his attack from the suburban airport.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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(Newser) – Thursday's suicide attack in Austin has refocused attention on the security—or lack of it—at small airports across America. Airports like the one used by Joe Stack don't require pilots to pass security checks and sometime don't even require flight plans. "I don't know of a rule or regulation or safety precaution that could have prevented what happened," the airport's manager tells the AP.

Private pilots in the US fly around 200,000 small and medium-size planes from 19,000 airports. The general aviation industry is fiercely opposed to tougher security measures. Industry advocates say that small planes don't pack enough punch to be of use to most terrorists, and argue that imposing more restrictions would do serious damage to a multi-billion dollar industry. "What it comes down to is that the cure could be worse than the disease," says one aviation security consultant.

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