Airline Security Update
By Capt. Dennis Dolan, ALPA First Vice-President
Air Line Pilot, January 2004, p.8
As ALPA’s first vice-president and chairman of the Association’s Security Task Force, I addressed the following topics as I reported on airline security to our Executive Board, which met in October 2003 (see "A Leaner and Meaner ALPA," page 14).
The TSA has changed the name of what we have known as reciprocal jumpseat access to Cockpit Access Security System. The TSA and the Air Transport Association had indicated that a test of this new program would get under way in August 2003. We were ready to go forward with the test at that time. Part of the test program involved the ATA obtaining a contract with ARINC to run the proxy servers required to provide the verification data between the airlines participating in the test program. Additionally, individual airlines would have to ensure that their software was compatible with the servers, and then tests would be conducted to ensure that the system was functioning according to the required standards.
ARINC has bought two servers and is ready to implement the program, but the ATA has not yet finalized the contracts with ARINC.
Capt. Steve Luckey (Northwest, Ret.), ALPA’s National Security Committee chairman, Jerry Wright, manager of the security division of ALPA’s Engineering and Air Safety Department, and I met with the TSA on Sept. 30, 2003, on the Transportation Worker Identification Card, or TWIC, program. Tom Blank, TSA undersecretary for policy development, chaired the meeting. At that meeting, the TSA introduced two new people assigned to this program.
I told the participants from the TSA that we wanted to help them make the TWIC program work. I stated that ALPA wants to provide all the expertise, the background, and the research we have done on the issues related to this program. My feeling then was that the TSA people were caught a little off guard—they had expected to meet someone who would be critical of them and who would say disparaging things about them and their programs in the news media instead of someone willing to help them. We assured them that we wanted to help get this program up and running and to do business—pilots’ business—with them.
The TSA has committed to establishing an airline industry working group—something we have requested for more than a year—to work through the interoperability issues and to determine how we make this program fit for aviation.
Our Canadian colleagues have a system called the National Pass system, a counterpart to TWIC. Their goal was to have National Pass implemented by the end 2003 or early in 2004. I hope that they get their system in place so it will provide an impetus for the TSA to move a little bit quicker than it has on our TWIC program.
Since April 2003, ALPA members and other airline pilots have been participating in training, approved by the Transportation Security Administration, to become new Federal Flight Deck Officers. At first, the agency was not giving pilots enough notice to rearrange their schedules for classes. However, the TSA has lately been giving more advance notice, and classes are filling up. We continue to press the TSA on proper weapons carriage.
I traveled to the Executive Board meeting on the jumpseat. The first officer happened to be an FFDO. When I asked him about the training, he said it was probably one of the most professional training exercises he had ever gone through. (See "A Deterrent to Terror," June/July 2002.) He said that the FFDO instructors were very impressive—they were very professional and knew what they were doing.
He also said the instructors told him and the rest of his class that "ALPA was the reason why the program exists. ALPA has been a great resource to us and has assisted us in making the program a professional and meaningful training experience." This pilot expressed his gratitude to me for ALPA’s hard work in making this program a reality and in our continued efforts to make it even better."
Man-portable air defense systems, or MANPADS, are a hot topic among aviation security experts right now.
This is a serious threat, but once again we see a knee-jerk reaction from a number of members of Congress. Some federal legislators have suggested equipping airliners—at $1 million to $3 million per airplane—with missile defense equipment that may or may not work and that has not been tested on airliners. This initiative needs a slow, careful study of how such a system might be adapted to airliners, what the cost of implementation would be, and what the effectiveness as a defensive measure would be. The TSA is asking for our help in developing a reasoned, methodical approach to this issue.
ALPA will approach all of these issues with constructive suggestions and use every possible resource to enhance aviation security throughout the world.