June 1, 2006
ALPA to Canada: Continue Enhancing Aviation Security
WASHINGTON, D.C. --- In testimony before the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act (CATSA) Review Advisory Panel, the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l urges the Canadian government to continue to improve aviation security by focusing limited resources on scrutinizing individuals who pose the greatest risk.
“We’ve made significant progress since 9/11, but as the number of flights and passengers continues to climb, Canada must pursue the highest standards in aviation security,” said Capt. Nick Rapagna, secretary-treasurer of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) Canada Board, before the Review Advisory Panel. “ALPA calls on Canada to create a ‘smart’ screening system that focuses on individuals who pose the greatest risk and limits screening for individuals who don’t pose a security threat.”
“The first step is to do all we can to reduce the resources we spend evaluating individuals whose trustworthiness has already been established,” said Capt. Rapagna. “Although the vast majority of air travelers present no danger, we have a rigid, mandatory process that screens a Member of Parliament in the same way as it screens a federal prison parolee.”
ALPA maintains that individuals who satisfy background checks as part of employment, such as airline pilots, parliamentarians, peace officers, and others, do not warrant the same level of scrutiny as someone who is unknown or who has events on their record that may be of concern. The pilots’ union has advocated for a universal, machine-verifiable identification card for air transport workers since 1987.
In Canada, the Restricted Area Identification Card (RAIC) program uses a separate access point for cardholders, electronically verifies their identity and employment status, and randomly screens cardholders as an additional layer of security.
“While the government is well on its way to fully implementing the RAIC system at all 29 major airports in Canada, we are not making the most of the system,” said Capt. Rapagna. “Completing the RAIC program is an essential step to setting the stage for aviation security that pinpoints risk, while allowing those individuals who are not a threat to move quickly and efficiently through the screening process.”
“Next, the Canadian government must build on this ‘smart’ screening system and apply the same risk-management principles throughout Canada’s air transportation system,” continued Capt. Rapagna. “We can use new technology and regulatory flexibility to allow goods and passengers that we know are low-risk to flow through the transportation system, while focusing attention on high or unknown risk elements.”
“Transport Canada must set and oversee performance-based regulations, but CATSA must put this risk-based security system into practice,” concluded Capt. Rapagna. “To make this philosophy a reality, CATSA must have the authority, budget, and input from stakeholders such as airline pilots.”
ALPA represents 62,000 airline pilots at 39 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Its website is www.alpa.org.
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