Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Airport faces ?onerous? new badge regulations

New security order affects 800

Express Staff Writer

New regulations trickling down from the Department of Homeland Security is requiring 800 security badges to be reissued at Friedman Memorial Airport.

In disclosing the development to the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority, Airport Manager Rick Baird termed the massive reissue a "significant burden" and "onerous."

During the governing body's monthly meeting on Jan. 10, Baird held up the new application forms that must be completed. The 800 badges go to virtually everyone who does business at the airport or works there.

Because of incompatible computer programs used by the Transportation Security Administration and the airport, Baird said some $15,000 would be spent on processing the new badge applications and clearances. Baird said the deadline for completing the forms has been relaxed and now is Feb. 1. Letters with the forms will be sent out soon, he said.

Some of the required information, Baird explained, is voluntary, but much is not—such as nicknames and aliases of applicants.

Presently, three categories of security badges are issued for the airport.

AOA (airport operations access) badges are worn by those accessing areas inside the airport fence, such as tenants, maintenance workers and the like, but not at the airline flightline at the terminal.

The most stringent requirements are for a SIDA (Secure Identification Area) badge for airline crews and employees with access to the terminal counter and baggage areas. These persons must be cleared through FBI investigations.

The least secure badge is a general ID badge, such as for taxi drivers.

Prior to issuance of the new regulations, Baird said airport operators believed that organizations such as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association as well as congressional offices would oppose a wholesale reissue throughout the nation's airport system. But no such major opposition developed.

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