Earlier this month, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) unveiled its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the regulation of general aviation (GA) aircraft in the U.S. While TSA and DHS have been talking about the need for increased security measures for GA for several years, the reality of the NPRM is hitting the GA community hard (and it should be). To date, TSA regulates but a small portion of the GA community – roughly 650 operators. TSA’s proposed NPRM would increase the regulated community to roughly 10,000 operators. A 65% increase in regulated parties is obviously significant.
The TSA’s air cargo screening regime has gotten much attention lately, including significant time at two recent Congressional hearings. As part of the 9/11 Act, TSA is required to screen 50% of air cargo carried on passenger aircraft by February 2009 and 100% of air cargo by August 2010, at a level “commensurate” to that of checked baggage. Since the Administration has not asked for nor has the Congress appropriated sufficient funds, TSA has decided to implement a Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP) under which third-party vendors (such as freight forwarders, indirect air carriers, shippers, etc.) volunteer to participate to screen cargo earlier in the supply chain, before it reaches the airport.
On a recent flight I noticed that within a couple of hundred meters there were residential, pseudo residential or mixed residential / commercial areas, which brought to mind one of the classic attacks by the Provisional IRA – the mortaring of London’s Heathrow airport. What are the implications? If there is a perceived threat of such an asymmetric attack, then every space where a vehicle can be parked within the range of an improvised system must be subject to some kind of monitoring.
Last week the Travel Industry Association released a study showing that air travel hassles have cost the economy over $26 billion because passengers avoided taking some 41 million trips over the last 12 months. Security is only a portion of those travel hassles, to be sure, but it is an area (unlike fuel prices) where passengers should feel their concerns are being heard, if TSA’s new Checkpoint Evolution is an indication.
Each day, airports work to ensure that air travel is safe and secure. In fact, it is the industry’s number one priority. Partnering with airlines; tenants; the Transportation Security Administration (TSA); and federal, state and local law enforcement, airports are working aggressively to enhance security. Last week, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, introduced the “Biometric Enhancement and Airport Vulnerability Reduction Act of 2008,” which would direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a study on how airports can transition to biometric control systems for airport workers who have unescorted access to secure or sterile areas of the an airport.
We see the “100 Percent” debate playing itself out between DHS and Democrats on the Hill — in the areas of employee screening at our nation’s airports, the screening of air cargo, and the screening of shipping containers coming from overseas. In all these instances, Democrats have passed legislative mandates requiring DHS to implement the costly solution of 100% scanning. DHS has been correct to push back, and they should do so more forcefully.
Agree or disagree, the fact is that President Bush’s DHS has made a Herculean effort to move from day to day crisis management to a more thoughtful consideration of threat based risk management priorities. As all parts of DHS begin placing emphasis on emergency preparedness, TSA is emerging as an excellent example.
After five years of getting beaten up routinely by the Congress on a bipartisan basis, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) appears to have found a whole new set of friends in Congress. As sister agencies CBP, ICE and FEMA face increasing scrutiny and oversight, Kip Hawley’s recent testimony shows that Members are almost surprisingly satisfied with the the security aspects of air travel.
Under the REAL ID Act, federal agencies are prohibited, effective May 11, 2008, from accepting a driver’s license or a state-issued personal identification card for an “official purpose” unless the issuing state is meeting the requirements of the REAL ID Act. Bottom line? Travelers from non-compliant states will likely encounter significant travel delays because they will be required to undergo secondary screening.
By Kevin R. McCarthy, Special Guest to Security DeBrief
Board of Advisors, SPADAC Inc.
Scanning 100% of the packages that process through this system is a focus of the 9/11 Bill. Many people interpret this process as being similar to the treatment a traveler’s bag receives at the airport security checkpoint. Logistically, however, this is simply impossible. Implementing the 100% requirement will create a net effect to completely cripple our economy.