Release #06.051
September 7, 2006

How Secure is Air Travel?
Largest pilots' union issues analysis of progress and gaps in aviation security

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. and Canada have made significant advancements in securing their air transportation systems since the 9/11 attacks, but serious gaps remain, according to an analysis issued today by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, (ALPA).

The world’s largest pilots union report, titled Aviation Security, Five Years After the 9/11 Attacks, provides pilots’ perspectives on the accomplishments of the past five years and the challenges that lie ahead as the U.S. continues to secure its air transportation system.

“The 9/11 attacks dramatically altered our nation’s perception of aviation terrorism,” said ALPA President Duane Woerth. “Aviation security has greatly improved since 9/11, but our system remains too focused on finding objects, rather than the intent to do harm.”

ALPA’s analysis revealed gaps in the current security system, including the need to:

Implement individual risk assessment
The government’s heavy emphasis on the detection of possible threat objects, with less attention given to the detection of those with destructive intent, leaves aviation vulnerable to future attacks.

Improve identity verification and access controls
Effective aviation security must verify the identity and employment status of those individuals who are granted access to airport secured areas and airliners—the current system could better use technology to become more efficient and accurate.

Enhance cargo security
While the recently-released FAA Air Cargo Security Regulations final rule has improved the security of the air cargo supply chain, much work remains to be done to secure air cargo personnel, equipment, and operations.

Put secondary cockpit barriers in place
Developing and deploying secondary cockpit barriers, both as retrofit devices and as standard equipment in future aircraft designs, will enhance the security of the flight deck.

Continue to develop the Federal Flight Deck Officer program
The FFDO program has been a tremendous success in providing another reliable layer in airline security, but the need to enhance training, protocols and legal protections remains.

Secure U.S. airport facilities
Perimeter security of air operations areas and terminal buildings must improve, especially at airports that service air freight operations.

Focus on risk-based funding
Government and industry must assess the costs and benefits of any proposed countermeasure and allocate limited resources in the most effective way possible.

ALPA’s analysis also highlighted significant accomplishments in airline security since 9/11, including strengthening the Federal Air Marshal and Aircraft Protective Officer programs, establishing the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, instituting reinforced flight deck doors, implementing restricted area identity cards, and fostering government-industry partnerships.

Please click here for a full copy of Aviation Security, Five Years After the 9/11 Attacks.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing 62,000 pilots at 40 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at

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ALPA Contact: Linda Shotwell, Jeff Orschel, (703) 481-4440