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SUBCOMMITTEE ON AVIATION
bie ARInG On AVLATION SECURITY
TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 1989
suMMARY OF SUBJECT MATTER
The Subcommittee will receive testimony on aviation security matters from government and industry witnesses as well as from families of the Pan American World Airways Flight 103 victims. Specific topics and issues will include:
(1) A review of what the Federal Aviation Administration and other government agencies have learned with respect to aviation security from the Pan Am 103 accident, including the effectiveness of systems to provide timely security intelligence and information to airlines, airports, and aviation authorities.
(2) A review of the adequacy of DOT/FAA regulatory actions on aviation security since 1985 when public and Congressional interest in security was heightened by the TWA hijacking and other incidents. The policy question of whether U.S. and foreign carriers should be subject to the same security standards at foreign airports will also be addressed.
(3) The status of U. S. Government efforts to obtain aviation security clauses in bilateral civil aviation agreements.
(4) A review of U.S. government actions under the Foreign Airport Security Act of 1985.
(5) A review of the FAA's programs to develop and disseminate explosive detection technology. The policy question of whether the government, airlines or airports should pay for the wide implementation of this technology will be addressed.
(6) The consideration of any legislative proposa is to improve aviation security.
THE SECURYTY PROBLEM
Pan American flight 103 crashed in Scotland on December 21, 1988 after being blown apart by a powerful bomb. 270 people were killed, including eleven on the ground. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and foreign law enforcement authorities continue to investigate and search for those responsible.
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.
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.
(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
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.