News from ALPA's Committees
U.S. TWIC and Canadian Badges to Be Tested
|National Security Committee|
Air Line Pilot, May 2004, p.26
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is scheduled to begin trials of a prototype Transport Worker Identification Card (TWIC) at a limited number of U.S. locations soon. And Transport Canada will try security badges with biometric identification at Montreal and Vancouver.
The TWIC will provide a tool for positive identity verification. As envisioned, it will have an access capability built in, but how that capability will be integrated into existing airport access control systems is yet to be determined.
ALPA’s National Security Committee (NSC), meeting March 17–18 at the Association’s offices in Herndon, Va., dealt with this and a number of other pressing aviation security issues.
Capt. Steve Luckey (Northwest, Ret.), NSC chairman, reminded his fellow NSC members why they were there: "At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, ‘What have I done for ALPA’s members?’"
At the end of a number of days, they’ve done a lot to further airline pilots’ interests in aviation security and the security of the traveling public. Following are highlights of the NSC’s numerous activities pursued at the meeting:
ALPA gets insider intel
First Officer Ken Dunlap (United), NSC deputy director of intel (intelligence) and emerging threats, announced, "We have been working for six months on two continents to get ALPA on the Overseas Security Advisory Committee (OSAC). It’s a members-only group, a partnership of the U.S. State Department and companies with employees in other countries, and you need an invitation from a government agency to get into it. The State Department has just accepted ALPA’s application to join OSAC; we’re the only pilot union with access to this daily intelligence."
OSAC, F/O Dunlap explained, gets "numerous intel feeds" from nearly every country on Earth. The information includes reports on activities in foreign countries and in specific cities, plus topical reports—e.g., new terrorist tactics observed in a particular region.
To make the best use of this newly acquired capability, the NSC is exploring the possibility of developing a members-only aviation security news service for ALPA pilots. The group plans to research members’ intel needs during the next few months and examine ways to provide such a service to ALPA’s members.
MANPADS Project Team
ALPA’s MANPADS Project Team met in Herndon, Va., on April 6 to continue its evaluation of the risks of, and potential defensive measures against, terrorist missile attacks involving MANPADS (man-portable air defense systems) against airliners.
"The goal of this special team is to assess the MANPADS threat and manage the available resources needed to effectively deal with it," said Capt. Dennis Dolan, ALPA’s first vice-president and chairman of the MANPADS Project Team, after the meeting. "We are trying to determine the actual risks associated with an attack and what would be the appropriate countermeasures to deploy commensurate with the risk."
He added, "The threat is not new, but it is real, especially in the current environment. We do not want to leap to conclusions based on perceptions. We are going to work toward a realistic assessment using a factual, data-driven process, much like the data-driven techniques now being used to analyze airline accidents and then develop effective measures to prevent accidents. We also need to develop procedures and advisories for pilots. We also have to calculate the costs associated with any countermeasure system and determine who is going to pay for it."
The ALPA team is made up of pilots with extensive backgrounds in security and supported by Engineering and Air Safety Department staff from both the engineering and security disciplines.
"Our intent is not to replace or preempt the MANPADS analysis the Department of Homeland Security is conducting," Capt. Dolan concluded. "We view our analysis as a parallel effort that focuses on these issues from the perspective of line pilots. Prudence dictates that we be prepared for the eventuality of another terrorist attack."
On another level, NSC members have been active participants in a number of aviation security venues requiring a "top secret" (or higher) clearance: Capt. Luckey attended a top-level NATO meeting. F/O Dunlap participated in a mock terrorism exercise at a major U.S. airport. The U.S. intelligence community, in recognition of the value of establishing a dialogue with airline pilots, invited Capt. Kevin McCarthy (Delta), NSC director of intel and emerging threats, to attend a graduate-level "counterintelligence" course, at no cost to ALPA. First Officer Clyde Romero (US Airways), an NSC member, participated in an intensive course and war-gaming exercise regarding shoulder-launched ground-to-air missiles, a.k.a. man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS).
Capt. Les McAninch (Air Canada Jazz), NSC deputy director, Canada, reported on recent aviation security developments in Canada.
Transport Canada, he said, has created an Aviation Safety Advisory Group (ASAG), after ALPA and other stakeholders voiced concern about Transport Canada’s abolishing a similar group it had created shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. ALPA will participate as a member in ASAG.
Capt. McAninch noted that Transport Canada has begun a review of all cargo security regulations. ALPA met with Transport Canada in February to provide the Association’s perspective on this issue.
Art LaFlamme, ALPA’s Canada senior legislative representative, reported that, at all major Canadian airports except Toronto, airline pilots have been provided alternative access. The Canadian Air Transportation Security Administration is now requiring random screening of airport and airline employees at these separate access points.
Transport Canada will start operational trials of biometric passes, using iris scan or fingerprints, in Montreal and Vancouver; these trials are expected to begin in June. If the trials are successful, Transport Canada hopes to implement these biometric passes systemwide throughout Canada by the end of 2004. The NSC has accepted an offer to observe this testing.
Jay Wells, ALPA staff attorney, discussed legal issues regarding the TSA’s newly announced enforcement program. The TSA, he reported, now has 900 inspectors—100 at TSA headquarters in Arlington, Va., and 800 in the field. The agency also has hired approximately 50 attorneys.
Capt. Scott Coleman (Delta), NSC director of airport security, has been working with the TSA on updating the ALPA Pilot’s Guide to the Security Screening Checkpoint, which will be made available to all ALPA members electronically, through ALPA’s website, www.alpa.org.
The TSA, said Wells, in February released its final guidance on enforcement sanctions for violating TSA regulations; the agency had been operating according to interim guidelines published in August 2002. Wells advised that the TSA basically modeled new regulations on the former FAA guidelines.
In a related matter, Capt. Ellis Nelson (United), NSC vice-chairman, said that he and other members of the NSC and ALPA staff had spent a day and a half recently reviewing all 46 security-related ALPA policy items. Only 6 of the 46 were deemed not to need changes.
Meanwhile, multiple outside organizations (some newly created) dealing with aviation security have asked ALPA to join them. The Association is carefully weighing the risks and potential benefits of doing so in each individual case.
The price of liberty, it is said, is eternal vigilance. That being true, ALPA’s National Security Committee has been, is, and will continue to be one busy bunch of pilots.