Are We Secure? Surveying FAA FAR 139 Class IV General Aviation Airports

Chien-tsung Lu and Brian Cason

Department of Aviation Technology Purdue University


  After the infamous attacks of September 11 in 2001, air transportation security has been the top priority of policymaking agenda by government agencies, particularly the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). While security measures of commercial airports have been improved dramatically, FAA FAR 139 Class IV non-commercial airports remain somewhat ignored, as there is a minimal security requirement. In fact, the security of non-commercial or general aviation airports is equally critical because large transport category aircraft (TCA), such as Boeing 737-800, intermittently operate out of some of these airports. For instance, many NCAA member universities charter large TCA at GA airports carrying athletics, staff, luggage and equipment to and from various destinations. While terrorist attacks on a large TCA at a Class IV non-commercial airport has never happened, the lack of adequate security measures could invite potential terrorists to take advantage of an airport’s insufficient security measure. This project uses Delphi methodology in conjunction with a series of surveys and observations on GA airports that do not serve commercial air carriers but, from time to time, accommodate large TCA for NCAA member universities. This research yields a list of possible airport vulnerabilities when large aircraft are present, followed by security recommendations to mitigate the potential risk.

Keywords: FAA-FAR 139 Class IV, Airport Security, General Aviation (GA) Airport.