Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Pan Am 103 was the latest event that demonstrates the vulnerability of civil aviation to sabotage and violent attacks by terrorists. Since 1985, three other airliners have been bombed resulting in death to passengers. On June 23, 1985 an Air India flight suffered a bomb explosion over the North Atlantic killing 329 people. On April 2, 1986, a bomb exploded on a Trans World Airlines flight near Athens killing four people and injuring nine. The aircraft was landed safely. On November 29, 1987 a Korean Air Lines flight exploded over Thailand killing 115 people.

In addition to acts of sabotage, the world's aviation system continues to be plagued by aircraft hijackings and attempted hijackings, though since 1985 the annual number is less than half of what it was prior to 1985. Between 1980 and 1985, there were 25 to 38 hijackings worldwide each year. In 1986 and 1987 there were 13 in each year, and in 1988 there were 15 hijackings.

At airline security screening points at U.S. airports, approximately 2, 700-3, 300 weapons are detected annually. Also, approximately 1, 300-1,500 persons are arrested each year for attempting to carry firearms or explosives on board aircraft.

Screening also intercepts between three and nine explosive or incendiary devices each year.

Finally, it is the assessment of U.S. and foreign authorities that the threat to civil aviation from terrorists is on the rise.

FEDERAL REGULATION OF AVIATION SECURITY

The Federal Aviation Administration regulates aviation security and establishes the standards to which airlines and airports adhere. In general, the FAA requires the airlines and airports to adopt and implement security programs designed to prevent aircraft hijacking, sabotage, and related criminal acts.

Each airline is required to adopt an FAA-approved comprehensive security program, known as the Air Carrier Standard Security Program. This program details passenger screening system (passengers passing through metal detectors and checked baggage being x-rayed), security training programs for airline personnel, which personnel will have access to certain areas (such as ramps), personnel identification procedures, how baggage and cargo will be processed from a security standpoint, and other matters related to security.

Each airport is also required to develop and adopt security programs in accordance with FAA guidelines. Depending on the size and scope of operations at an airport the security requirements vary from airport to airport. Included in airport security responsibilities are the assurance of a law enforcement presence at the airport, plans to coordinate with other government agencies in security emergencies, control of access to operation areas and identification procedures for persons in operations areas, security training for appropriate personnel, and adequate perimeter fencing and locked doors for certain areas of the airports.

[ocr errors]

The most visible means of security is the passenger checkpoint in an airport where a passenger walks through a metal detector and his/her carry-on luggage is x-rayed for weapons. These checkpoints are the responsibility of the airlines and are typically operated by a security contractor. The contractor's personnel are required to be trained in accordance with FAA training specifications and the equipment must meet FAA performance specifications.

Since the summer of 1985, when a TWA flight in the Middle East was hijacked and the Air India bombing and other security problems occurred, the FAA has taken five major aviation regulatory initiatives with respect to security as well as requiring significant changes in the airlines’ standard security programs.

(1) Transportation of Federal Air Marshals.

On July 8, 1985, the FAA issued regulations requiring airlines to carry federal air marshals even if it meant "bumping" a paying passenger. Prior to this rule airlines had sometimes "bumped" an air marshal in favor of a paying passenger.

(2) Security Coordination and Training Regulations.

On July 16, 1985, the FAA issued an emergency regulation requiring each airline to improve its security by identifying and training personnel to be "Security Coordinators" for each flight. The duties of the security coordinator are to monitor and ensure that security requirements are being followed. This regulation also required that flight crews also receive expanded training in security. Airlines were also required to provide evidence of compliance with these new requirements.

(3) screening of Airline and Airport Employees.

On December 22, 1987, the FAA issued regulations requiring that employees of airlines, the airport, and other law enforcement officials pass through the metal detection and x-ray screening before entering the secure area of an airport. Prior to this regulation these persons typically walked around the screening equipment.

(4) Access to secured Areas of Airports.

On January 6 of this year, the FAA directed that airports ensure that only persons authorized to have access to secure areas be in those areas. Airports were directed to establish computerized identification card systems and access procedures for all persons, including employees of businesses located at the airport. Large airports have until August of this year to comply with these new regulations.

-4-
(5) submission of Foreign Airlines security Programs.

on March 14, the Secretary of Transportation announced that the FAA will issue a regulation to require foreign airlines to submit their security programs to the agency for review and acceptance, and if need be, the agency will be able to direct mofications. Currently the FAA requires foreign airlines to have security programs and the FAA is provided the details of those plans upon request, but there is no provision for the FAA to review and accept those programs or direct modifications. This new regulation had been proposed last September.

change in the Airlines’ standard security Programs

With respect to changes in the standard security program, in July 1985 the FAA eliminated curbside baggage check-in for international flights and required airlines to institute systems for matching passengers to baggage on certain international flights.

After the Korean Air Lines bombing in 1987, the FAA required amendments to airline security programs aimed at addressing the problem of a passenger disembarking at an intermediate point and leaving carry-on luggage on board by requiring all passengers to disembark with their carry-on luggage so the aircraft could be swept for left behind carry-on luggage.

Last April, ICAO amended Annex 17 to require full reconciliation of passengers and checked baggage on all international flights or have all checked baggage x-rayed or physically inspected, and the FAA incorporated this new approach into the airline security programs. Next month these passenger/checked baggage reconciliation systems will be further strengthened to take account of gaps in the system related to interlining between airlines and passengers disembarking at intermediate stops without their checked baggage.

Last December after the Pan American 103 bombing, the FAA required that U.S. airlines strengthen their security programs at certain European and Middle Eastern Airports. These measures include:

o Positive matching of passengers and baggage and
100t x-ray or physical inspection of all checked baggage;

o No passenger access to checked baggage after matching and physical check;

o Increased random selection of passengers for enhanced screening. Checked baggage of these selected passengers will be emptied and all contents physically examined;

o Small packages and parcels that are shipped through passenger ticket counters will be x-rayed or physically examined prior to shipment.

[ocr errors]

On January 9, the leadership of the Committee wrote the Secretary of Transportation urging that these new requirements imposed on U.S. airlines be imposed on all foreign flag carriers serving the U.S. from Europe and the Middle East. As of this writing, the Committee leadership has not received a response to this letter, but foreign air carriers continue to not be subject to those December requirements.

ExPLOSIVE DETECTION TECHNOLOGY

Following the aircraft sabotage events in 1985, the FAA was provided additional funding to conduct research and development into technological means to detect explosives in checked baggage and cargo. The FAA has been spending $9-10 million annually on research into new explosive detection technologies. Two technological approaches have been explored, thermal neutron activation and vapor detection.

Thermal neutron activation (TNA) is a technique whereby baggage passes through a device that irradiates the baggage with neutrons, a computer analyses the "signature" return of chemical compounds in the baggage and signals the operator if the "signature" matches that of chemical compounds used in explosives. Early experience indicates a 95% success rate in the detection of explosives and a 4% false alarm rate. This is considered to be very good by security professionals. Six TNA units will be delivered to the FAA in the last half of this year for deployment in airports.

Vapor detection systems continue to be researched. This technology is being designed to examine passengers and carry-on luggage. The technique here is that the passenger or bag is "sniffed" by the device to detect the presence of the chemical compounds used in explosives. A prototype device has been tested and generated positive results, but the time to process a passenger (30 seconds) is believed too long to be practical. Further work on reducing processing time is underway.

An issue before the Congress is how widespread should the TNA ~~ technology be disseminated and who should pay for the dissemination (airlines, airports, or the government).

FAA’s CIVIL AVIATION SECURITY ORGANIZATION

The FAA’s Office of Civil Aviation Security is headquartered in Washington. Within FAA’s organization, the civil Aviation security Office reports to the Associate Administrator for Aviation Standards. The FAA’s security personnel are located in all parts of the country and around the world.

In recent years, the Administration has sought, and the Congress has appropriated, funds to increase the number of FAA personnel devoted to security. Between 1985 and 1988 FAA's security personnel increased from 236 to 524. In the current fiscal year, that level

[ocr errors]

will climb to 580, and the Administration has requested an additional 120 security positions in the FY 1990 budget submission which would bring the FAA's security staff up to 700.

The FAA also has a Federal Air Marshal program which provides security coverage on selected flights of U.S. air carriers. The size and scope of the air marshal program is classified.

FOREIGN AIRPORT SECURITY ASSESSMENTS

In August 1985, Public Law 99-83 enacted the Foreign Airport Security Act establishing the foreign airport security assessment program. This legislation was largely developed by the Committee on Public works and Transportation. This law directed the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration to assess security at foreign airports served by U.S. airlines, foreign airports served by foreign airlines that serve the U.S., and foreign airports which pose a high risk to international travel. Nearly 200 airports undergo these security assessments.

The assessments are made by FAA security personnel who evaluate an airport’s security against the security standards contained in Annex 17 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The law directed that the Annex 17 standards be treated as the minimum level of security. Annex 17 provides the basic security requirements on passenger screening, baggage control, secured areas and law enforcement agreed upon by the world’s government aviation authorities.

(Last month, the International Civil Aviation Organization adopted a plan to review the Annex 17 standards to determine what changes were needed in light of the Pan Am 103 bombing; consider what special measures should be put in effect when threats are made; and expedite further development of explosive detection equipment; and consider establishing an international system for marking explosives.)

If FAA finds deficiencies in security the foreign country is notified of the deficiencies along with recommendations to correct the problems. If the foreign airport does not correct the security problems within 90 days, the traveling public is provided notice by the Department of Transportation and the Department of State is required to issue a travel advisory. One such public notice has been issued for Manila Airport, Philippines in August 1986. In September 1986 the notice was lifted after the deficiencies had been corrected.

A December 1988 a General Accounting Office report entitled FAA’s A t of Foreign Airports recommended that the FAA should conduct analyses as part of its airport assessments of the foreign countries’ testing and evaluating of these airport security systems. The GAO found that the FAA has not conducted its own security tests and evaluations at foreign airports because of issues involving national sovereignty. In light of this, the GAO recommended that FAA

« PreviousContinue »