ALPA Testifies before Canadian Inquiry on Airline Security

Capt. Craig Hall (Air Canada Jazz),
ALPA National Security Committee director for Canada

“The current security screening system virtually ignores the trustworthiness of airline pilots and others, but instead focuses almost exclusively on a search for objects,” said Capt. Craig Hall (Air Canada Jazz), ALPA’s National Security Committee director for Canada, in testimony before a Canadian government inquiry to evaluate airline security improvements since the 1985 bombing of an Air India flight that killed more than 300 people. “Unless and until the system becomes more human-centered, rather than weapon-centered, we will remain vulnerable to potential hijackings and other aircraft attacks.”

Both Hall and Capt. Jean Labbé (Air Transat), ALPA’s National Security Committee security coordinator for Canada, were asked to testify on October 23 before the Canadian Commission of Inquiry into the investigation of the Air India Flight 182 bombing. The Air India flight took off on June 23, 1985, with an improvised explosive device (IED) planted in a piece of checked baggage. Another piece of checked baggage containing an IED was placed on CP Air Flight 003 bound for Narita Airport. The bag was intended to connect with Air India Flight 301 departing Narita for Bangkok, Thailand. The bag that was finally boarded on Air India Flight 182 was transferred from CP Air Flight 060 from Vancouver to Montreal, and was subsequently boarded on Flight 182 in Montreal. Both pieces had been checked through security at Vancouver International Airport. All 329 passengers and crew on Air India 182 perished. In addition, two Japanese baggage handlers at Narita were killed when the second device exploded during transfer from CP Air 003 to Air India 301. This remains Canada’s largest terrorist attack. The Inquiry is hearing evidence on actions that have been taken to close the security gaps that existed in June 1985 and the improvements still needed to enhance airline security in Canada.

“We owe it to all those affected by this terrible tragedy to make sure we do everything possible to prevent something like it from ever happening again,” says Hall. “Speaking before this Commission was a critical opportunity for ALPA to advocate for the enhanced security measures we have championed for years.”

The two ALPA representatives discussed the Restricted Area Identification Card (RAIC) program and a challenge to the Canadian government to do more to screen passengers for intent to do harm through behavioral evaluation rather than simply screening for objects.

“Providing ALPA’s expert testimony to the Air India Inquiry created a powerful opportunity for the Association to make recommendations directly to our government leaders, including the Canadian Minister of Transport and the Prime Minister,” says Capt. Dan Adamus (Air Canada Jazz), president of the ALPA Canada Board. “We feel quite hopeful the ideas and information we shared will lead to positive change and better security for Canadian passengers, crews, and cargo.”

ALPA’s participation in the Inquiry was covered by a range of Canadian news organizations, including stories in the National Post, the Vancouver Sun, the Toronto Star and an opinion piece in the Edmonton Sun. Hall was also interviewed on CBC television.

Please click here to watch the full testimony.