Oral Testimony of Captain Duane E.
Air Line Pilots Association, International
Before the Subcommittee on Aviation
The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
United States House of Representatives
On the 9/11 Commission Report: Review of Aviation Security Recommendations
August 25, 2004
Good morning. Let me start by saluting the Committee for holding this hearing and for inviting the Air Line Pilots Association, International to share our views on the work of the 9/11 Commission. I also salute Secretary Lehman and his colleagues for their landmark report.
On Sept. 11, 2001, airline pilots and flight attendants were among the first casualties in the War on Terror. Their sacrifice, along with those of so many others that day, launched our nation into a global conflict that continues to rage.
The airline industry has been a consistent target in the enemy’s war against this country – even before the events of 9/11 – and no one believes that terrorists have changed their opinion about its strategic value. That is why our union has pushed so hard to develop procedures, training and technology to keep one step ahead of the dynamic threat that we face. Pilots believe – and history confirms – that we cannot adequately prepare for the next type of attack if we focus our attention only on the tactics used in the last attack. Nor can we afford to throw billions of dollars at every conceivable threat, because we run the risk of creating an escalation factor that works in our enemy’s favor. We must not allow our understandable fear to be leveraged into irrational actions or programs that bankrupt or paralyze air transportation and the larger economy it supports.
We must be smarter than they are and use our resources wisely. Most significantly, the nation has rallied around the concept of the Department of Homeland Security. It is the duty and responsibility of the federal government to carry out that mandate and bear the financial burden. In this new war unfunded federal mandates for ongoing or future programs are inappropriate.
Our recommendations on how best to add critical layers to our aviation security blanket are grouped into the three classic spheres of security doctrine: Denying your enemy the opportunity to attack; detecting him when he prepares to attack; and defeating him when he does attack. Aviation security requires equal attention, creativity and resources in all three areas.
Intelligence Gathering, Assessment and Use
An effective, comprehensive and well-managed intelligence effort is critical to denying enemies the opportunity to attack. Unfortunately, no comprehensive aviation security intelligence collection and management apparatus is now in place. Although the TSA has seen an increase in the number of reported suspicious events, and anecdotal reports from our members indicate that airline security and operations are being tested, we are unable to provide data or trend information on the number of incidents or suspicious events.
As you know, ALPA worked with the government to develop a sophisticated safety incident-reporting system that has been very effective.
To that end, we have urged the DHS to create a similar security incident-reporting mechanism.
The key to success is involving frontline employees in the collection of comprehensive security reports. Then having headquarters connect the dots and lastly but most importantly, if we are to have the same success we had in our safety programs, we must absolutely get this security information to the worker bee level in real time to make a difference.
Keeping security information locked up in headquarters will not prevent another 9/11.
Positive Identification of Passengers and Crews, Determination of Intent
The second prong of our recommendations relates to detecting the enemy before he attacks. Well before 9/11, ALPA was the only aviation industry group calling for the creation of highly secure identification systems for employees and passengers.
ALPA therefore supports implementing the TSA’s Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC) system. All airline employees went through criminal background checks and fingerprinting 3 years ago but still use old fashion picture ID cards. Rapid implementation needs to occur ASAP.
We also support the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations for improved passport standards and a biometric entry-exit system for travelers that would automatically identify passengers as they board.
Integrated Security Plan
I was proud to serve on one of Secretary Mineta’s Rapid Response Teams. Many of our recommendations have been implemented. Hardened doors. Screening of checked baggage. But I am especially grateful to the Congress for insisting on the implementation of the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program. It is the most cost effective deterrent we have.
However, the 9/11 Commission correctly notes, "The current efforts do not yet reflect a forward-looking strategic plan, systematically analyzing assets, risks, costs and benefits."
This type of strategic plan should address the following areas:
Close the gap between the level of security for cargo and passenger airline operations, which often operate under different regulatory requirements. For example, many cargo aircraft have not been fitted with hardened cockpit doors, there is no requirement for ramp personnel or supernumerary passengers to have a criminal history record check, nor is screening for explosives or chemical/biological materials required on all-cargo carriers.
Continue to work with members of Congress and the TSA to enhance the FFDO program. We believe that by identifying and addressing a few outstanding issues, we can increase the number of pilots who volunteer to protect the flight deck with lethal force, thereby enhancing our national security.
Establish procedures for TSA checkpoint screeners to handle a chemical or biological weapon found within luggage.
Mandate the installation of secondary flight-deck barriers. One major airline is in the process of equipping its entire fleet of aircraft with these doors, which are inexpensive and can be easily put in place prior to the cockpit door being opened. ALPA supports a provision included in current legislation introduced by Rep. Steve Israel.
Regarding the attention focused on the shoulder-fired missile threat, I would first of all like to commend you Mr. Chairman, as well as Mr. DeFazio and the rest of this subcommittee, for your leadership in this area. HR 4056 is a common sense, pragmatic approach to this emerging threat. My written statement has much more detail on this subject and in the interest of time I would refer you to that statement.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. As I said at the beginning of my testimony, flight crewmembers were the first American casualties on Sept. 11. We go to work every day in spite of bankruptcies, drastic pay cuts, and threats of pension terminations, with the safety and security of our passengers as our overriding concern and focus.
I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.
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