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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
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 Assessment 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
observe the host country's security tests. Beyond this issue, the GAO stated that security professionals believe that the FAA assessments ". . . have made a difference and have brought about a needed increase in security awareness."
LEGISLATION REFERRED TO THE COMMITTEE PERTAINING TO SECURITY.
H.R. 617 introduced by Congressman Dan Burton on January 24,
This bill would amend the Federal Aviation Act to require that each air carrier airport’s law enforcement presence and capability include dogs to be used to detect plastic explosives and other devices or materials which may be used in aircraft piracy and which cannot be detected by metal detectors.
H. Con. Res. 52, introduced by Congressman Joe Kennedy on February 9, 1989.
This resolution would express the sense of Congress that the Secretary of Transportation should do everything in his power to ensure that: (1) the highest level of security standards currently in use in international aviation are applied by the International Civil Aviation Organization to all international airlines and airports; (2) these standards be adopted by the February 16 meeting of the directors of ICAO: (3) ICAO require all international airport authorities to adopt a number of specified security enhancements; (4) the ICAO Annex 17 standards are implemented by all U.S. airlines and airports; (5) the Department of Transportation and Department of State enhance and expand the "Anti-Terrorist Assistance Program"; (6) threat assessment capabilities are enhanced and when the threat is deemed substantial, passengers informed; and (7) ICAO establish a task force to develop regulations to be applied under Annex 17 to effectively combat unlawful interference with any international
TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 1989
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, SUBCOMMITTEE ON AviaTION, COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC WORKS AND TRANSPORTATION, Washington, DC. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:07 a.m., in room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. James L. Oberstar (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding. Mr. OBERSTAR. The Subcommittee on Aviation will please come to order. Today the Subcommittee on Aviation resumes hearings on aviation security initiated four years ago by the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight which I chaired at the time along with the then ranking Republican, Mr. Gingrich, and today's ranking member, Mr. Molinari, as an active participant in those hearings. The vulnerability of our aviation system to violent attacks by terrorists was brutally punctuated last December 21st when a powerful bomb destroyed 270 lives aboard Pan Am flight 103 when that 747 crashed over Lockerbie, Scotland. Despite the tightening of security measures after the bombing, the air traveling public continues to feel vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Our hearing today will attempt to shed some light on whether that feeling is justified and whether the response of both Government and industry to the most recent attack and to the broader question of widespread terrorism is adequate and effective. Aviation terrorism has evolved over time. As I have observed it, I would say that phase I was the sky-jacking era, from 1969 through the early 1970s, a period when we were experiencing an average of one sky-jacking every two weeks. But just as metal detectors and other steps taken to assure security were beginning to have their effect, terrorism was moving to what I call phase II, the random destruction of aircraft by concealed bombs carried either under a seat or hidden in the hold. It seems that we are in a pattern of always being just one step behind the terrorists. Putting us a step ahead of the terrorists is the purpose of this hearing and any legislative or administrative action that may result from it. If terrorists find a gap or even a little tear in our security net, they exploit it and hundreds of human lives are shattered in one explosive blinding instant. Government and industry then move to plug that hole, so that type of attack doesn't happen again.