« PreviousContinue »
Mr. OBERSTAR. Furthermore to that point, Mr. Ambassador, it should be pointed out that El Al is a national carrier and is not required to make a profit.
Mr. LAUGHLIN. It seems to me, as a member of the traveling public, that we would not object to the FAA or the airlines requiring a two-hour appearance for our luggage to be checked when these threats are floating around in the area.
Ambassador McMANAWAY. I wouldn't object at any time.
I would like to follow up on the point that the Chairman just made, or the question, perhaps, having to do with the relationship between the State Department and the FAA and the process related to the matter of determining a specific and credible threat, and then the recommendation or requiring of cancellation and public travel advisories.
Mr. Ambassador, could you comment specifically on how that works, and what the responsibilities of the State Department and the FAA are in that process?
Ambassador McMANAWAY. I could do a much better job in executive session, Congressman.
Mr. PAYNE. That's the only question I have. Thank you.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Mr. Ambassador, Mr. Belger, the United States has for several years had the Sky Marshals program in operation. I believe they've traveled something like four million miles in the last year, 1988.
What has been the effectiveness—what deterrent effect is there with Sky Marshals? Have there been any arrests on board aircraft? Could you elaborate on those points?
Mr. SALAZAR. If I may, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. SALAZAR. I'd like to respond to the very effective use of Federal Air Marshals which we continue to use as a countermeasure.
There have not been any arrests made, but that isn't to say that their presence or the mere fact that they are flying has not deterred the possibility of these things occurring.
The FAA did something fairly unique that it did not do originally when we flew Federal Air Marshals. Rather than hiring strictly Federal Air Marshals, or those people that we would consider just to be "gun-toters,” we hired FAA Special Agents. These people are the same people we rely on consistently to do all of the regulatory enforcement inspections to ensure a safe civil aviation security environment, whether that is here in the United States or overseas.
Our regulatory inspections could also require the safe transportation of hazardous materials and a variety of other types of duties, and only on a part-time basis do we then deploy them as effective countermeasures in flight.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I want to ask this question about the FAA and the Department since we have you and your associates here, Mr. Ambassador.
In the wake of PanAm 103 and in the wake of the ICAO conference in Canada, increased security standards have been promulgated and increased requirements placed upon U.S. carriers. The Ŭ.S.
carriers feel that the same standards have not been applied to foreign carriers, and that, first of all, this is creating a security gap; and that secondly, it is creating a competitive gap between U.S. and foreign carriers.
I would like you to respond to the steps that are being taken to equalize the burdens of these security provisions and to equalize the security measures provided by both U.S. and foreign carriers.
Mr. BELGER. We want to see an improvement, a strengthening of security procedures throughout the world. That was our clear objective when we went to Montreal for the ICAO conference. I believe that the resolution which was unanimously passed in Montreal will result in some improved worldwide security standards.
It is an appropriate avenue to follow to, on a multinational basis, achieve worldwide improvements. In addition to that, as I said earlier, just last week, after a very thorough review, Secretary Skinner did announce the implementation of a new requirement placed upon foreign air carriers that would require them to provide to us their security programs for our review. I think that will give us the ability to ensure that those procedures used by foreign airlines are adequate to meet the threat that exists in any particular location.
Mr. OBERSTAR. But they are not the same requirements imposed on U.S. carriers?
Mr. BELGER. Not necessarily. That is correct.
Mr. BELGER. The general basis upon which we would review the foreign air carrier programs would be the internationally accepted ICAO standards.
Mr. OBERSTAR. But if different standards and perhaps a higher level of security or delay of other requirements, costs of providing security detection devices, are going to be imposed on U.S. carriers, then there is going to be a competitive gap as well as a security gap.
Mr. BELGER. Economics is obviously a factor. We must assure that U.S. air carriers have the highest standards that we can humanly and technologically envision.
As I said before, we want to see international standards raised. We are working aggressively through the international community to do that. I am optimistic that we will see results.
We will also use our regulatory authority under Part 129 to review those programs very thoroughly, and we will continue that avenue.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I think there is a great willingness on the part of the FAA and the Department of Transportation to get as tough on foreign carriers as you are getting on American carriers.
But let me ask Ambassador McManaway, being very blunt about it, certain high level sources have told me that they have been told by foreign government representatives that if we get as tough on foreign carriers as we are getting on American carriers, that they won't tolerate it; that's an intrusion upon sovereignty, and that they will take countermeasures against U.S. carriers that will have economic consequences for them operating abroad.
You are the voice of the State Department today.
Ambassador McMANAWAY. I had not heard that, Mr. Chairman. I am not too surprised to hear it. I, for one, would be quite prepared to go at them regardless.
I think one thing we might mention here is that one reason that we and the United Kingdom called for the special session of the ICAO at the ministerial level-to which Secretary Skinner led our delegation-was just this problem of trying to get standards raised worldwide. Now, at that meeting the Council charged its special committee to go out and look at raising standards in a number of specific areas, and I will just mention a few: detection of sabotage devices and special explosives; comprehensive screening of checked baggage; screening of passengers and hand baggage; security problem created by increasing carriage of radios, computers, and other electrical equipment; and so on. It's a fairly long list.
We don't have the results of the work of that committee of the Council. I would submit that we should see what they come back with and see what the other countries do adopt for their carriers.
To be honest, there was discussion during this Council meeting by the less developed countries of the cost, and they did give us some static about the developed countries, imposing-or trying to impose-on them standards that they couldn't afford, and that we should
for it. So that may come back to haunt us later on. But let's see what comes of this work plan of the Council of ICAO and see where it leaves us, and go from there.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I appreciate your response, and I can certainly understand the concerns of lesser developed countries for the costs. But if they can't meet standards, maybe we need an Athens-type advisory. Lives are at stake, and it is going to be that one Achilles heel, that one gap in the security blanket that is going to result in loss of lives. That's always the way it is. We are always looking at the last war as we fight the next one, looking at the last security tragedy as we prepare for the next one, and looking for systemic solutions to the problem.
I appreciate your statement. Knowing you, I know that you sit down and negotiate tough with our counterparts.
Last year, Americans made 41 million trips abroad; foreign visitors made about 33.7 millions trips to the United States. Last year we had, for the first time in aviation travel, a deficit balance of payments. That is, Americans spent more traveling abroad than foreigners spent in the United States, to the tune of about $5.7 billion. There is a net gain in foreign countries from Americans traveling overseas. They travel and they spend a great deal. There is a tremendous benefit for other countries economically that they ought to be prepared to protect with appropriate security devices at airports. If they are not prepared to do that, then we ought not allow our fellow citizens unnecessarily to expose themselves to risk.
Now, I define safety as “a relative absence of risk.” I think that the departments need to get that message as they sit down to negotiate with our trading partners and with our aviation trading community in the world at large.
I have no tolerance for the financial argument that it is too costly for us. Our fellow citizens are spending an awful lot in other economies as they travel abroad, and if those countries don't recognize that they've got to provide security to make it attractive for
our fellow citizens to travel in their countries and spend money there, to enrich their economies to the extent that they do so, then they need a lesson in economics, at least, if not in security.
Ambassador McMANAWAY. You'll get no argument from me, Mr. Chairman, but I would point out that in-let's take both London and Frankfurt airports. They passed FAA assessments in 1988. It would be wrong, I think, and unfair in a blanket way to suggest that all foreign airports and carriers are less security-minded than we are. There are some that are, and there are some that can't afford these various measures we would like to see put in. But it's not all of them, and unfortunately, it's not the ones that we have focused on here today.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, the State Department does have a very extensive and commendable program for security training on an exchange basis in providing assistance to countries that don't have their own resources, and some that do.
Ambassador McMANAWAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. OBERSTAR. And the State Department has provided training in the last year to several hundred foreign nationals to take the appropriate preventive security measures.
Ambassador McMANAWAY. Yes, sir, and we can also provide a certain amount of equipment through that program, and we do.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Yes. You have heard enough testimony today from our colleagues, and questions, showing the genuine concern in the Congress for adequate security measures to be taken in other countries.
Among the items identified in the foreign inspection program are problems in identification of persons, the security training programs of foreign countries, perimeter fencing which I've already mentioned, adequacy of locked doors once you get into the security perimeter, law enforcement presence, and the secure operations areas.
What actions are being taken by foreign governments in response to these points that our foreign inspection program has raised with those 107 airports?
Mr. SALAZAR. If I may respond, sir, in those instances where we would find those conditions to exist there would be some form of recommendation made as to what might correct that particular deficiency. If it is one of training, the FAA works hand-in-glove with the State Department's Antiterrorism Assistance Program and has provided its facility in Oklahoma City as a training mechanism for a variety of foreign students to get the latest in civil aviation techniques.
If it is a matter of law enforcement presence, or access and perimeter controls, and we have concern that an aircraft on the ground may be at some risk, we would ask for the increase of law enforcement and security presence until perimeter protection could be strengthened.
If these recommendations were not heeded, then in fact the legislation in the law provides for sanctions to then be applied, including ultimately-as was pointed out earlier-advice to the public about this particular airport not meeting international standards.
Mr. OBERSTAR. In the Air India incident in 1985 over the North Atlantic, in the 1986 TWA incident out of Athens, and in the 1987
Korean Airlines incident over Thailand, a total of 448 lives were lost. Were any Americans among those?
Ambassador McMANAWAY. Not in the Korean Airlines incident. There were on both the others. There were no Americans on the Korean flight, but on the Air India and on the Athens flight.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I think the recent incident has tended to overshadow the fact that through 1985, there were an average of 25 to 38 skyjackings per year. Increased awareness and action on security has cut that number roughly in half, from 13 to 15, in 1986 and 1987. In 1988 there were 15 skyjackings.
The point I am making is that Americans traveling abroad, 40 million trips, continue to be exposed to risk. We need to intensify these efforts that are already underway which we have been discussing this morning. There will be some aspects of that issue that I will pursue further in executive session.
I understand that at JFK Airport, Mr. Belger and Mr. Salazar, there are roughly 47,000 people who have access to the airport beyond the passenger emplanement area. What security steps are taken to assure that a mechanic, or a supposed mechanic, doesn't walk on board, into the tarmac area, with what appears to be a tool chest but what in fact may be laden with an explosive? Or that a cleaning person or a cleaning van or a food service person may not be doing the same thing?
Mr. BELGER. Mr. Salazar has been intimately involved in the formulation of a relatively recent FAA regulation that places requirements on airport operators to ensure that only authorized individuals have access to certain secure areas.
Mr. SALAZAR. In addition to that, before I go into the description of the regulation requiring automated access, it's just that condition, Mr. Chairman, that prompted the FAA to look entirely at the access at airports. These are huge communities where, as you pointed out, 47,000 people must come and go every day.
It seems to us, and it seemed to the FAA and to the industry, that this was beyond the human capability of an individual who has a ledger who can identify each individual who is authorized in an operations area. Consequently, the FAA has moved to now require that there be an automated access system installed, a computer-enhanced system to more rapidly screen people and to be able to more effectively take people out of the system that no longer have a right to be in those restricted areas.
Additionally, there is currently a requirement that those people who require unrestricted and unescorted access to restricted area to airports hired after a specific date contained in the regulation must have background investigations completed, as well.
Mr. OBERSTAR. There are allegations that there is no requirement that the systems be uniform from airport to airport. Recognizing that there are differences—JFK is not Fort Wayne or Duluth, Minnesota. There is a vast difference in numbers and configurations of airports, but certainly there ought to be some standardization from airport to airport.
Mr. SALAZAR. We have taken that into account, sir, when we address the category of airport. In other words, airports of similar size ought to have similar types of systems. But I think your issue is more about the compatibility of a particular system. We are very