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Mr. MoLINARI. I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman. Mr. OBERSTAR. At this point, I would like to yield the chair to the gentleman from California, Mr. Packard. I think the point that the gentleman from New York raised is appropriate and we would ask Mr. Broderick to respond directly as the officer in charge of the FAA. Clearly should such lapses be occurring, it would be a violation of FAA rules. It would be a violation of law. Mr. BELGER. I will talk to Mr. Broderick as soon as I can. Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you. The gentleman from the Virgin Islands? Mr. DE LUGO. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. My question relates a bit to the question that was just placed by Mr. Molinari. That is my understanding is that under FAA regulations that prior to the departure of any flight, the ground security coordinator is supposed to brief the airline crew or, in this case, the captain as to the security situation before that flight leaves. Now in the case of flight 103, Pan Am 103, you had this alert going on for almost a month leading up to flight 103. Were the crews of these various flights that were taking off during that period briefed as to the security situation or were they given a routine assessment of it which, as I understand, in most cases the captain is told as he taxis down the runway that the flight is okay for security and that's it? What is the situation there? Mr. SALAZAR. If I may, there presently is a requirement for the exchange of information between what we term the ground security coordinator and the inflight security coordinator, the inflight security coordinator almost always being the pilot in command. That active exchange of information is to occur at our airports where we have extraordinary security. Oftentimes that exchange of information is on a form that is transmitted or sometimes is done verbally. In response to your specific question, sir, the investigation related to the Pan Am 103 tragedy is still ongoing, and I don't believe that information is available at this time. Mr. DE LUGO. Well, all right. We won’t talk about flight 103, but could you describe to me the type of an exchange that would take place between the ground security coordinator and the captain if there was an alert? What type of an exchange should take place? Is the FAA—let me put it this way—is the FAA monitoring this situation at the present time? Mr. SALAZAR. Yes, indeed, sir, there is a process ongoing that would look very closely at that exchange of information. The regulatory requirement as it presently exists requires the exchange of information for a specific threat. Mr. DE LUGO. What form would that take? Mr. SALAZAR. Our expectation, sir, would be a verbal communication between the ground security coordinator and the inflight security coordinator. That doesn't necessarily mean it has to be done in the cockpit; it could be done in the dispatch area, wherever it's convenient to facilitate that exchange of information. Mr. DE LUGO. Well, let me ask you something in another area. Based on security procedures that are being used in airports here in the United States, could a Pan Am 103 incident have occurred here with a flight originating in the United States? Mr. SALAZAR. I think, sir, until we begin to learn considerably more facts about the perpetrators of that particular crime, I would be in a better postion to provide an answer to that question. It's fairly general in nature, and I would hate to— Mr. DE LUGO. All right, we'll give you some more time on that. Mr. SALAZAR. Thank you. Mr. DE LUGO. Let me ask Ambassador McManaway—you stated that if there was a high threat or a very serious threat to a flight that you could recommend that the flight be cancelled. You said that there had never been a flight cancelled. Has there ever been a recommendation made that a flight be cancelled? Ambassador McMANAway. Not under these circumstances, no, Slr. Mr. DE LUGO. Not under those circumstances. If there was a recommendation made, is that just a recommendation or does that flight have to be cancelled by the airline? Does the airline have any discretion there? Ambassador McMANAway. We don’t have authority to order it under law to be cancelled. I would be astonished if a U.S. air carrier refused. Mr. DE LUGO. Well, perhaps Part 121 of the Federal Air Regulations, restriction or suspension of operation, “Domestic and flag air carriers.” It reads, “When a domestic or flag air carrier knows of conditions, including airport and runway conditions, that are a hazard to safe operations, it shall restrict or suspend operations until those conditions are corrected.” I am advised that that could suspend the flight. Mr. BELGER. I think it might be appropriate if I could answer that question. Mr. DE LUGo. Surely. Mr. BELGER. In fact, we know that in the past, in the course of discussions with the airlines about specific types of security information, they have in fact cancelled flights based upon information that we have shared with them. We also know, sometimes on a too-frequent basis, that flights are diverted or delayed in order to respond appropriately to bomb threats. If the situation arises that the threat information is such that we cannot direct countermeasures to ensure that that flight can be conducted safely, I can assure you that we will cancel the flight. I have no reservations—— Mr. DE LUGO. Well, that's what I wanted to hear. . Mr. MINETA. Would the gentleman yield? Mr. DE LUGO. I yield to the gentleman from California. Mr. MINETA. I’m a little confused here. First of all, Mr. Salazar said that you don't deal in general information, that you only deal with specifics in trying to inform the flight crew, the inflight supervisor. You don't inform them unless you have a specific one, not just a general one. Mr. BELGER. That's basically correct. Yes, sir.
Mr. MINETA. And then you just said, “We would recommend that flights be cancelled.” Yet earlier you had said, “We have never recommended that a flight be cancelled.” I’m a little confused here and I would like to get some clarification. Mr. BELGER. If I could, the point at which we or the airlines would consider the cancellation of a flight, I think we would be talking about a specific threat against a specific flight or flights that is credible, that we have assessed to the point that there seems to be the intent to do whatever the threat says. If we're talking about a threat against a specific flight at a specific time that meets that other criteria, and if we can't have the assurance that effective countermeasures could be implemented, we would have no reservation in using our authority to cancel that operation. Mr. MINETA. But in the case of Pan Am Flight 103, it came in from another carrier, and that's not a specific threat against Pan Am Flight 103. Yet there was a threat floating around out there. Now, if I am the Captain of the flight, somebody had better damned well tell me that there is going to be a problem in the general area. If I'm flying out of Frankfurt, then it seems to me that I have to know that flights out of Frankfurt to the United States may be under some risk. Now, I don't understand why this vacillation occurs. We passed this act in 1985; that was a time when we had a breakfast meeting with Mr. Fascell and we went over this whole thing with the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, with people from the FAA at the time, and now you're saying, “Well, we haven't worked out all the details yet.” That really blows my mind, because—— Mr. BELGER. No, sir, I certainly don’t want to leave any impression that we haven't worked out the details. If I wasn't clear I will try again. Our expectation is that if the information that would affect that specific flight—if that exists, it should be provided to the inflight security coordinator. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about that for a specific flight. It is not our expectation at this point that information be provided to the inflight coordinator if it is not specific to that flight. Mr. MINETA. And yet you say that you have never recommended cancellation of a flight? Mr. BELGER. No, sir, I think we've answered—— Ambassador McMANAway. I think part of this may be my orientation, which is international. I am thinking about the process in which we participate, which is not domestic at all. We would not be ń. of many things that the FAA would be doing with domestic ights. I may have added to the confusion there, and I apologize if I did. Mr. MINETA. I thank the gentleman for yielding the time. Thank you. Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, the gentleman's time has expired. Mr. DE LUGO. I was afraid of that. [Laughter.] Mr. OBERSTAR. The Ambassador's response was to a question that the Chair posed earlier about his statement referring to “specific and credible threats to civil aviation security which cannot be countered.” It involved a different set of questions, but the answer raises the problem here of interagency coordination. The State Department might not be aware of domestic threats. The FAA might not be made sufficiently aware of threats at other airports overSeaS. I think this is a matter that I hope other members of the committee would pursue further. The Chair will now recognize the gentleman from Pennsylvania. Mr. KolTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In view of the fact that I arrived late, I would like permission to submit my opening remarks for the record, please. Mr. OBERSTAR. Without objection, so ordered. Mr. KOLTER. Thank you, sir. [Mr. Kolter's prepared statement follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. JoE KolTER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM
Mr. Chairman, I commend you for calling this subcommittee together to investigate the issue of aviation safety.
I feel deep regret, however, for the recent tragedy that makes our meeting today all the more necessary. My heart goes out to the family, friends and coworkers of the Flight 103 disaster victims.
We live in a world today where one cannot guarantee the safety of one's self or others even though no offensive act has been committed which may encourage retribution. There are certain areas of our world where some men do not hold human life in the highest regard as do we. It is unfortunate that rigid measures must be taken to better ensure that savage acts of terrorism such as the December calamity over Scotland do not recur.
The United States Secretary of Transportation has the power, by act of Congress in the Foreign Airport Security Act of 1985, to take certain actions deemed necessary to alleviate the threat of terrorism to flights involving domestic or other air carriers which originate in foreign countries. The Transportation Secretary has within his power sanctions which include the authority to immediately suspend service with foreign airports which do not comply with the stated conditions of the act. Grounds for suspension are reached when “a condition exists that threatens the safety or security of passengers, aircraft or crew traveling to or from a foreign airport . . .”
It is my strong belief that we as members of Congress must do whatever we can to end this everpresent threat of terrorist attacks to airlines involving American passengers, crew or planes. I feel that current law should be vigorously enforced and preventive actions be taken by our government to repel future threats to life, safety and security.
I call on colleagues to join with me in urging the Secretary of Transportation to use his power to strictly enforce the provisions of the Airport Security Act and if need be, to support additional appropriations to expand and strengthen security programs.
Mr. KolTER. Mr. Belger, under interrogation from Mr. Molinari you stated that if in fact there was a question of international security overseas, at a certain point in time the FAA would move in. Do you recall that?
Mr. BELGER. I recall——
Mr. KOLTER. If there was a question, then you would move in.
At what point would you move? Would that happen after an accident, or would you have intelligence reports to indicate that some action should be taken?
Mr. BELGER. We routinely conduct foreign airport assessments, and also routinely inspect the procedures of U.S. airlines throughout the world.
If in the course of our foreign airport assessment program we see conditions which do not meet the international standards against which we inspect, we have a very well-defined process that is laid out in the 1985 legislation which we would follow to work with that country, first of all, to correct those deficiencies we would find. If that is not possible, there is again a very well-defined procedure in the legislation through which the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of State would arrive at a point where public advisories are made that would tell the American public that it is not in fact safe to travel to this particular airport. As I said before, that has occurred once. So it is not just a case of waiting for something to happen and then reacting. We do aggressively and intensively inspect the operations of U.S. air carriers and conduct the foreign airport assessments. Mr. KolTER. Could there possibly be a scenario where the Department of State would have one thought on the matter, and the FAA have a different thought? And if so, who would prevail? Mr. BELGER. Well, it would be hard for me to imagine that that would happen. I am quite confident in my own mind that the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of State would not be of different opinions when we are talking about the existence of an unsafe condition. Mr. KolTER. Thank you. Mr. OBERSTAR. The gentleman from California, Mr. Packard. Mr. PACKARD. Mr. Chairman, thank you. I would appreciate it, Mr. Belger, if you would review for me what procedures are required of the airlines and the airports in the searching or the processing of luggage, either carry-on—I think most of us know what you do with carry-on, but I’d like you to be specific in terms of what the instructions are in terms of looking at cameras, looking at electronic devices, any prohibitions, and then particularly I would like to know the process that airports and airlines are required to go through in terms of checked-in luggage. I would also like to know what you do with mail. Mr. BELGER. Again, I must ask Mr. Salazar to help me with some of the specifics here. In general, the security procedures for the processing of checked baggage are tailored to certain types of airports. We have requirements for domestic operations, we have requirements for international flights departing the United States, we have requirements for certain locations overseas which we think might be high-risk. We have requirements which we spoke to on December 29th at those 73 airports in Europe and the Middle East. So to answer your question very thoroughly, we would have to talk about each one of those levels of security. If we are talking about the 73 airports in Europe and the Middle East for which we prescribed additional security procedures on December 29th, maybe I could ask Mr. Salazar to go over the specifics of that to the extent we can. Mr. SALAZAR. I'm a little hesitant to talk publicly about a lot of the details. In general—— Mr. PACKARD. We can ask that question later on. Mr. SALAZAR. I would appreciate it if we could do that, yes, sir. Mr. PACKARD. Let me ask, have those procedures changed since Flight 103?