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QUESTION 3: Until the number of units available are sufficient, how will you optimize coverage where there are multiple American flag carriers?
It is expected that resources will be shared by the carriers. Every attempt will be made to provide a maximum level of coverage given the available resources. Alternative technologies would also be used, which may be less efficient and more labor intensive, until adequate quantities of automated systems are available.
QUESTION: You have given us a cost for the TNA machines on a per passenger carried basis. Could you give us an estimate based on international passengers carried by domestic airlines?
Installation of 100 TNA systems at the busiest U.S. and international airports would cost passengers, over a three-year period, an extra $1.00 per person each year, based on annual international enplanements by domestic carriers.
Senator Ford. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
It has already been mentioned earlier that hopefully a successful manhunt would bring about the capture and identification of the organization that planted the explosive in Pan Am 103.
It is this Senator's understanding from the news last evening and from today's "New York Times", quoting a CBS news report, that identification has been made, entrance gained into the headquarters, and cassette recorders similar to those found in the wreckage of Pan Am 103 were found. And they name names.
Can you tell us if that news report is accurate?
Secretary Skinner. Senator, one of the concerns that I have expressed, not only to this committee but to other committees, is that during the investigative phase of an investigation we get various reports on various things that may be happening and may not be happening. I am not in a position to comment, because of the confidentiality of the information, as well as the fact that some of the information I receive secondhand, because the primary investigative authorities involved in this have investigations going on, as you know, in Europe, in Germany, in England, as well as some investigation in the United States, working with not only the FBI but with Scotland Yard and the police authorities in Germany.
I do know that they are working on this with full cooperation across the board. I have had—in the past I have seen announcements made from Europe that are speculative in nature, that have turned out not to be correct.
So I am very sensitive to disclosing what we do know, and frankly some of the things are not at our level. I do know it is going on. I do know that they are making progress. But the level of the progress—I do not mean to be evasive, but the level of the progress is just not appropriate to discuss.
I hope and look forward to the day, I might add, that we can have that discussion in the near future.
Senator Ford. Mr. Secretary, I admire your ability to express your no comment.
I think we all, as I said earlier, applaud you for initiating the series of steps to be undertaken in response to Pan Am 103. It appears that not only are you exercising your prerogatives and authority as Secretary of Transportation, but it appears that you are getting your plate full early on in your administration.
The writers and TV personalities gave you the award for being the best individual for this Administration in the first three months. Again, I tell you, as I did earlier, take it when you can get it. A day will be coming.
Secretary Skinner. I have certainly been the busiest. I do not know that I agree with them on the "first" rating, but I think it is hard to find anybody that has had more to do.
Senator Ford. Well, I think you need to accept it. I do not know that they will give you an Emmy or anything.
Secretary Skinner. This is my tenth Congressional appearance in two months, so I might be on the road to one.
Senator Ford. Just promote your book. You will be all right.
It is my understanding that the Administration will oppose efforts to use the airport and airway trust fund to pay for new security measures including the explosive detection devices such as the TNA, and the airport computerized access control systems.
Mr. Secretary, how do you propose, or how does the Administration propose, that these systems be paid for?
Secretary Skinner. Well, the airlines currently have the flexibility to impose a security tariff on their tickets. This generates a considerable amount of money. That money is supposed to be made available to the airlines for the purpose of security-related measures.
I think a number of them are imposing them and that money is being generated, and it is out of that pool of money—I would call it the informal aviation trust fund—that we anticipate these devices will be paid for.
Senator Ford. Now, let me understand you so there will be no misunderstanding. It is my understanding that the airlines now have the ability to add a security tax to their fares, and that some are imposing that security tax.
Does that money go to the Federal treasury to be held for later use, or does that go into an airline's treasury? Where does that money finally end up?
Secretary Skinner. First of all, most passengers leaving the United States for overseas destinations on U.S. airlines are paying a five-dollar, or ten-dollar round trip, tariff on the price of their ticket. That goes to the airlines.
The airlines have custody of those funds. That is not a government-controlled fund. That is an industry-controlled fund.
We believe that ten-dollar round trip tariff on their tickets can cover the costs of security measures, and that is under the control of the airlines.
For instance, in the case of TNA, we believe air travelers would be willing to bear the additional costs to ensure their safe flight. Acquisition of 100 TNA units at the busiest airports would cost passengers over one year an extra 20 cents on the price of an airline ticket, assuming passengers on all U.S. carriers pay the increase.
So we do not think that the cost of safety for 100 TNA units, for instance, given the amount of tax and tariffs that are already being collected, is extraordinary.
I might add that we have spent some $60 million of Federal aviation funds for the development of TNA. We will continue this year to spend $9.1 million in Federal funds for additional research.
But there comes a point where the research translates into devices that can be implemented, and at that point we believe that the burden should shift to the industry through use of the industry security tax fund.
Senator Ford. Mr. Secretary, does that money include then the airport computerized access control systems?
Secretary Skinner. No, it does not. I might ask that Mr. Salazar answer that question.
Senator Ford. Mr. Salazar.
Mr. Salazar. Yes, sir. The tariff or security charge for the airlines is not sent back to those airports.
Those automated access systems that have been proposed, sir, would be eligible for airport improvement program grants.
Secretary Skinner. So they would be eligible as they are implemented for reimbursement from the trust fund, at the discretion of the Administrator.
Senator Ford. Does that include the chain link fence around the Air National Guard?
Mr. Salazar. Well, absolutely, sir. Any security improvements that are contained within an airport operator's approved security program are eligible for AIP funding.
Senator Ford. All right, I just want to be sure that we are on the same track.
I will have some additional questions. You know, in 30 seconds I usually ask a right question, but if I wait 30 minutes I ask a wrong one.
Secretary Skinner. Old adage of a trial lawyer: Do not ask that extra question.
Senator Ford. I understand, but since I am not a lawyer I play it by ear, and do not carry any hay to a dead horse. Secretary Skinner. Meaning lawyers do. Senator Ford. Yes.
Mr. Secretary, you have been involved to an extraordinary degree in the aftermath of the Pan Am 103 tragedy and have been out front with the initiative to try to assure that it will not happen again. What will your future role be, now that you have made these initial initiatives on an international basis?
What I am concerned about and interested in, the last question, part of it, is your future role in the FAA's civil aviation security program.
Secretary Skinner. Well, let me tell you what we have learned as far as process, because I think that goes to the question of process. Number one, we do have a considerable amount of resources dedicated to the FAA's security effort. They are working both in this country and abroad. They now have an ongoing working relationship with the Secretary, who is personally involved, as is the President, in this problem.
We have and are in the process of scheduling every two weeks, meetings of our Secretary-FAA task force to continue to view not only new programs, but the implementation of those programs we have announced. I am personally very concerned that we not make an announcement and then fall flat on the delivery.
Number two, I also am aware that, if we are going to implement many of these programs, we are going to require the cooperation of people at the highest levels of foreign governments, and that cooperation can best be obtained through my efforts and the efforts of the Administration.
I might add on that point that President Bush has assigned General Scowcroft to work on the intelligence aspects of this problem personally, and he attended the meeting.
So we will be coordinating with the FAA on biweekly meetings. They will be deploying their assets immediately and reporting to me on a regular basis.
And then of course, we will also be working with the ICAO organization that I met with in Montreal in February on the implementation of additional security measures on an international level at 33 countries that are members of ICAO.
Senator Ford. I still have some real problems with the IAA policy on security as it relates to the airport itself. Often these are other entities, other facilities that are beneficial. Take, for example, the Air National Guard, that is an industry in a lot of places, as you well know. I want to be sure we do not fence them off to where we have to build a new entrance and do a lot of other things that create additional expense.
And then the computerized doors, I watched a little three year old go out one at an airport Monday morning, and I am not sure how good they are at the expense that they are charged. The beep went off, I understand that. But she went out the door.
So I want to be sure that these computerized doors work properly and they function if we are going to create that kind of expense. What we are talking about is secure security, and that was not very secure in my opinion.
Secretary Skinner. I would just say I agree with you. I think that part of the program, it is going to require a lot of attention. It is a very complicated system that has to be implemented.
And as you know, the airport operators and owners have made some very significant observations that we have to learn from. So I think that is going to be an evolving process.
Senator Ford. Mr. Secretary, I hope you will listen to the airport operators. They are responsible for not only paying off the bonds that were issued to build the new airports, along with our help, they are responsible for operating it efficiently and in policy with the local community, and they have the on-line experience. So I am very pleased to hear that you will be working with them.
Let us talk about foreign airport security for just a moment if we can. The ATA alleges that only ten percent of FAA security forces are dedicated to Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East, but that 90 percent of the terrorism occurs in these areas.
And why is that and where will the new positions that you have asked for be located?
Secretary Skinner. Let me ask Monte Belger, who heads that entire program, to comment on that. I think I would only observe that the exact location I would be more than glad to share with the committee in confidence, but the exact location, how many people, and who they are going to be, I do not want a public record. So if we can work something out along those lines, we will give it to you.
But other than that, he can give you an overview.
Senator Ford. Mr. Secretary, I have always been one who could work things out.
Mr. Belger. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In addition to the small number of people that we do have physically stationed in Europe, nearly all of our inspectors in the United States are used and trained and conduct foreign airport assessments.
I would say that roughly well over 80 percent of our inspector staff based here in the United States we use to conduct airport assessments. We do not just rely on the people that we have stationed overseas.
The 120 additional positions that we have asked for in our 1990 budget, some of those will be air marshals, some will be security