Committee Corner
News from ALPA's Committees

By Capt. Ken Dunlap (United), National Security Committee Vice-Chairman
Air Line Pilot
, May 2005, p.27

ALPA Reviews Aviation Security Issues

ALPA’s National Security Committee and representatives from more than 17 master executive council Security Committees met March 29–31 to discuss the state of international airline security. The Association’s president, Capt. Duane Woerth, opened the meeting, in Herndon, Va., with an address that set the stage for the meeting.

Security Committee

Capt. Woerth, in his presentation, commented extensively on the economics of the travel industry and airline management. What is really maddening, said Capt. Woerth, is the “inability of North American airline management to pass on the cost of fuel to the consumer. In Europe, airlines pass on 85 percent of fuel costs to consumers.” To compound matters, every proposal that the airline industry asked for was axed out of the U.S. budget.

In scrutinizing the state of airline security, Capt. Woerth said, “One of the largest issues that the government needs to address is why we don’t have biometric identification cards for airline employees.” This crucial security and quality-of-life issue is the focal point of numerous Association efforts. Capt. Woerth recognized National Security Committee efforts to bring next-generation technology to crewmember identification and pledged to urge Congress to set standards and time lines for implementation.

ALPA’s first vice-president, Capt. Dennis Dolan, presented the interim report of the National Security Committee Structure Review Committee. He recognized the accomplishments of the National Security Committee in promoting airline security and noted that now is the time to build on these achievements. The Structure Review Committee has formulated a plan to enhance ALPA security leadership through streamlining and reorienting the National Security Committee.

National Security Committee chairman, Capt. Steve Luckey (Northwest, Ret.), in his remarks, outlined a new vision for security advocacy that the Committee is preparing. This multiyear plan will prioritize the issues and resources required to enhance the security of pilots, aircraft, and passengers. Capt. Luckey noted, “For too long, we have been focusing our valuable security resources on the wrong people. We need to focus on individuals who have intent to do harm. Intent is what makes prohibited items dangerous, not the objects themselves.”

For the first time, the Security Committee conducted a gaming session focused on what the ALPA response would be to a hypothetical airline security incident. ALPA leaders, the Committee, and MEC committees participated in a multisession “war game” involving simultaneous MANPADS attacks on an airliner and an inflight bombing. Participants assumed various industry roles in this scenario.

As developer of the exercise, I explained that “we want the participants to use the work sessions to think through their actions and update their response plans for these incidents.” Each of the four teams involved in the exercise analyzed intelligence data and formulated plans based on their assessments. Then the group reviewed and critiqued each others’ findings. The Security Committee plans larger gaming sessions for future meetings.

On the final day of the meeting, Capt. Bob Hesselbein (Northwest) presented an overview of chemical and biological hazards to flight crews and a suggested checklist for pilots to use against these threats. This checklist, now in use at Northwest and three other airlines, represents the latest in scientific, aircraft systems, and human factors research and is available to all airlines whose pilots ALPA represents. 

Rounding out the day were presentations by the Federal Air Marshal Service and Dr. Jim Miller on open-source intelligence solutions.