Page images
PDF
EPUB

Perhaps it should be considered for immediate use as well. The one significant question that remains is, who should pay for the purchase and installation of these devices? I am certainly aware that there is a huge surplus in the Aviation Trust Fund that might be tapped for this purpose. I have been as vocal as anyone here in calling for full funding of Aviation Trust Fund programs. However, under current budget and appropriations procedures, it is likely that any money spent on explosive detection devices will come at the expense of some other needed transportation safety programs. Therefore, I hope we will carefully consider the impact of purchasing these systems with Federal money. In this connection, I would note that DOT has announced that it will require airlines to purchase explosive detection devices themselves, without additional Federal financial help. And so, Mr. Chairman, I think we are moving expeditiously to address a problem brought to light by the bombing of Pan Am 103. If there are any differences, they are over the means, and not over the goal we all share, of improving airline and airport security. So in this hearing, witnesses hopefully will address some of these differences, so that the bill we report out later this week will be as responsive to the problem as it can be. Mr. Chairman, I will not get into this now in this opening statement, but you and I have discussed, informally, the idea of worldwide security, and how ICAO might be brought into the process, and as we develop this legislation, I hope that ICAO might be a mechanism where we might broaden even more the concept that you have developed so far in this bill. Thank you. Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much for your comments, and opening remarks, and I think that is a very important matter. And using ICAO, involving them in a broad, multi-nation, widespread effort makes good sense, and is a good security approach. The gentleman from Pennsylvania. Mr. Kolter. Mr. KOLTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just want to commend you for your determination in bringing this urgent matter of airport security before us, and, Mr. Chairman, in the interest of saving time I would submit my information for the record. Mr. OBERSTAR. Without objection, the gentleman's statement will be included in the record at this point. Mr. OBERSTAR. The Ranking Member of the subcommittee. The gentleman from Pennsylvania. Mr. Clinger. [Mr. Kolter's prepared statement follows:]

STATEMENT OF JOE KOLTER, MEMBER OF CONGRESS

I want to commend Chairman Oberstar for his determination in bringing the urgent matter of airport security before us in such an expeditious manner.

After hearing the hart wrenching testimony at our prior hearing from the families of the flight 103 victims, I think it is fair to say that we are all very aware of the urgency of this matter. From the testimony by those who deal so closely with airport security, it is more than apparent that drastic steps need to be taken to beef up airport security systems, especially at those airports which the Federal Aviation Administration deems security risks.

Through recent developments in detection screening technology, we have at our disposal the State-of-the-art equipment needed to improve our ability to stop terrorists before lives are in danger. Thermal neutron analysis units will soon be available for installation at many airports. Though these devices are costly, no cost is too high to ensure the safety of the flying public.

The legislation we will be marking up tomorrow, H.R. 1659, will do much in accomplishing our goal of the strongest airport security possible. And, if additional moneys are needed to further tighten security, it is this Member's feeling that we in Congress must appropriate whatever funds are necessary, for the issue of human lives cannot be compromised.

I offer Chairman Oberstar and Anderson my full support and assistance in furthering the issue of airport security.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. OBERSTAR. The Ranking Member of the subcommittee. The gentleman from Pennsylvania. Mr. CLINGER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I am delighted to once again be serving with you on a subcommittee in the Public Works and Transportation Committee. It is my first hearing. I am looking forward to my opportunity to participate in the deliberations of the subcommittee. Mr. OBERSTAR. If the gentleman would yield, that is right—this is the first hearing that we have served together in the aviation subcommittee. The gentleman from Pennsylvania and I have been together on Economic Development, and on the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee, and while there was a little hiatus, it’s a delight to welcome the gentleman from Pennsylvania formally and publicly to the Subcommittee on Aviation. You have been a great partner, very thoughtful, and those in the aviation community and other colleagues on the subcommittee who are not familiar with Mr. Clinger's approach—I can assure you it is very thorough, thoughtful, painstaking, and extraordinarily objective and fair. A great partner in this endeavor. Mr. CLINGER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I think I should quit while I am ahead here. It is unfortunate, I think, that in the evolution of the aviation industry, security of passengers and aircraft from deliberate acts of violence is now a paramount concern of Government and carriers alike. Equally unsettling is the apparent ease with which a determined individual—terrorist—can circumvent our present array of metal detection and x-ray devices, as the Pan Am 103 disaster so cruelly demonstrated. Out of necessity, governments, carriers, and airport operators have assumed the responsibility of assuring the safety of passengers. Sadly, though, the increasing sophistication of terrorists has outstripped our ability to stop their campaign of random destruction. We must not allow them to gain the upper hand. We cannot afford to wait for the development of an absolutely fail-safe detection system. Too many lives are at stake. Thermal neutron analysis, TNA, enhanced X-ray, and vapor detection devices, will give us an arsenal with which to counter the efforts of those who wish to do us harm. TNA, in particular, shows great promise in the detection of plastic explosives, but at $1 million a copy, and a very long lead-time to construct these devices, it is going to require that we wait a considerable period of time before they make a real improvement to aviation safety.

Mr. Chairman, I look forward to today's hearing, and I am especially interested to hear from our witnesses. Your legislation is, I believe, a necessary and reasonable response to the increasing threat posed by terrorists throughout the world. I am very hopeful that we—and by that I mean the Federal Government, carriers, and airport operators—can reach agreement on the financing and operational questions in a rapid fashion, and get these sophisticated devices into our airports as soon as possible. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much. I share that hope, and we will move this hearing along expeditiously toward that purpose. The gentleman from Louisiana. Mr. HAYEs. Mr. Chairman, I think the issue that we are addressing here will be a continuing theme in this session of Congress. We are going to decide in this legislation, as well as other subsequent pieces of legislation, the purpose of the trust fund. We are going to decide whether the trust fund is a budget item by which—to use to offset bottom-line expenditures that exceed Gramm-Rudman targets, or are we going to decide whether the trust fund is indeed intended to be a tool by which we improve airports, air carrier service, and benefit the public as a whole? If the latter view is taken, then the question does not become whether or not we should spend money that people pay in order to have services provided, but a matter of using the regulatory agencies as a conduit to determine how far each dollar can be stretched to the best and total benefit of those who are consumers of air serv1Ce. I think it is time to start looking at the initial purpose of the trust fund, instead of diverting to the attention that what we cannot afford, because of increased budgets, as opposed to what we save the money for. If the terror of flying is not a motivation to use funds in a trust fund, I cannot imagine whatever will be, and perhaps we should re-think whether or not we even have one. Thank you. Mr. OBERSTAR. I thank the gentleman for those remarks. The gentleman from Iowa. Mr. LIGHTFoot. Mr. Chairman, I have a statement, but in the in. of time, I would ask unanimous consent to enter it in the record. Mr. OBERSTAR. Without objection, the gentleman's statement will be included in the record. [Mr. Lightfoot's prepared statement follows:]

STATEMENT of JIM LIGHTFoot, MEMBER OF CONGRESS

Mr. Chairman, members of committee, I am pleased to see we are meeting today to consider the problem of airport and airline security. Terrorism and security threats have become a growing international problem. As financial conditions in the marketplace have made competition more fierce, airlines have been confronted with increased threat to the security of their passengers, their employees, and their equipment.

I agree we should investigate and review available options for us to improve security conditions in today's marketplace. Therefore, I commend our chairman for his efforts in this regard.

However, I am hopeful we will not act rashly or unwisely in merely placing further burdens on an already-burdened air transport industry or a highly-leveraged, debt-ridden Federal Government. I look forward to the comments of my colleagues and a healthy discussion of the sensitive issues before us today. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. OBERSTAR. The gentleman from Texas. Mr. Laughlin. Mr. LAUGHLIN. Mr. Chairman, since we started these hearings on aviation security, I have been overseas on American Airlines and Pan Am Airlines. On those occasions, I had access to the cockpit and the crews on both those airliners. Mr. HAYEs. They were terrified. Mr. LAUGHLIN. They were terrified. Thank you, Mr. Hayes. And they urged me to relay to this committee, and to you, which I have already done, and I would relay to the witnesses here—these men and women are putting their lives on the line each day when they take these airliners into the sky with many American lives at their hands, and they have urged us to get a solution to this terroristic problem, and I am here to assure you and the witnesses, I look forward to working with you to bring a solution and attack this terroristic problem. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. OBERSTAR. I appreciate your participation and your help. The gentleman from Missouris? Mr. HANCOCK. No statement, Mr. Chairman. Mr. OBERSTAR. No statement. Are there other members who wish to make opening comments? Mr. Bosco'? Mr. Bosco. No, thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. OBERSTAR. The gentleman from North Carolina. Mr. VALENTINE. I have just a short statement which I will try to make shorter, Mr. Chairman. Today's hearing on H.R. 1659 is of special interest to me because, as Chairman of the Transportation, Aviation and Materials Subcommittee of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, I chaired a hearing on aviation security several weeks ago. At that time I stated—and it is worth repeating here—that the Congress must find a way to give the American people a sense of confidence that action is being taken to protect the flying public and that we, in the Congress, are moving to make airports and airplanes less vulnerable to terrorist attacks. I congratulate the Chairman for the introduction of this legislation and believe that it moves in that direction, and ask unanimous consent to insert in the record the balance of my statement. Mr. OBERSTAR. Without objection, so ordered. The gentleman’s statement will be included in full. [Mr. Valentine's prepared statement follows:]

STATEMENT OF TIM VALENTINE, MEMBER OF CONGRESS

Today's hearing on H.R. 1659 is of special interest to me because, as Chairman of the Transportation, Aviation and Materials Subcommittee of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, I chaired a hearing on aviation security in February.

At that time I stated, and it is worth repeating, that Congress must give the American people a sense of confidence that action is being taken to protect the flying public and that we are moving to make airports and airplanes less vulnerable to terrorist groups.

The Federal Aviation Administration is the lead federal agency for aviation security. It has invested millions of dollars in developing airport screening devices to find deadly explosives and weapons in luggage and on passengers. The Aviation Security Act of 1989 will require all U.S. air carriers to install and use explosive detection equipment.

As the tragedy of Pan Am flight 103 teaches, international terrorists are becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of their tactics and capabilities. It would be naive for us to assume that technology can provide all the solutions. However, we in Congress must insist on action from the FAA and others so that airports become off limits to individuals carrying even the most sophisticated devices.

Mr. OBERSTAR. The gentleman from Georgia. Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just want to compliment you on the hard work and the thorough preparation that you and your staff have put into this most important piece of legislation. Airline security and safety is something that affects us all and affects all of our families, and I think we must act quickly and af. firmatively to protect air passengers from terrorists, and I think that this bill addresses these concerns. And I know that the aviation community in Atlanta looks to this committee for support, and for action, and I applaud you for your leadership in introducing H.R. 1659. Thank you. Mr. OBERSTAR. I thank the gentleman for those remarks. The gentleman from Colorado. Mr. Skaggs. Mr. SKAGGs. No statement, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Oberstar. I would like to place in the Record at this point a statement received from our colleague, Representative Jerry Costello. [Mr. Costello's statement follows:]

State MENT of JERRY F. CostELLO, MEMBER of Congress

Mr. Chairman, it is a pleasure for me to see this bill come to our committee after previous hearings on the issue of aviation safety. Recent incidents involving Pan Am flight 103 and other airline security violations have brought this important issue to our attention, and it encourages me to see this legislative action take place in an effort to prevent further tragedy.

I am also encouraged by Transportation Secretary Skinner's promise to visit Europe and discuss the implementation of security devices, as well as heightened airport security measures, with European leaders. In addition, actions by the FAA to improve security will greatly add to these efforts.

In this bill, we will be requiring the installation and use of explosive detection equipment not less than 60 days after the date of enactment. In addition, we will be making available significant funding from the Aviation Trust Fund for the FAA Administrator to obligate for the acquisition of explosive detection equipment.

I look forward to the comments of the witnesses today, and hope this subcommittee can move forward to advance this bill, which I feel is quite necessary to improve international airline safety standards.

Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you. Our first witnesses are Mr. Robert Knisely, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs from the U.S. Department of Transportation, accompanied by Darlene Freeman, Deputy Director, Office of Civil Aviation Security for the FAA.

Welcome to our hearing. We appreciate your participation and your representing the Secretary on this important occasion.

I just want to ask my colleagues to keep in mind specific questions that they may have, and those that may have been raised—if you have had the opportunity to read testimony of other witnesses—with a specific goal in mind, and that is, tomorrow, this subcommittee will convene to mark up H.R. 1659, and if there are issues that you have concerns about, I want you to raise them now, get them on the record, explore those matters, so that tomorrow we can move speedily toward conclusion of this legislation, and report

« PreviousContinue »