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Aviation security : terrorist acts illustrate severe weaknesses in aviation security
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    NTL-AVIATION-Aviation Safety/Airworthiness
  • Abstract:
    This is the statement of Gerald L. Dillingham, Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues before the Subcommittee on Transportation, Senate and House Committees on Appropriations regarding vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks of the nation's aviation system. The testimony is based on previous works of the General Accounting Office (GAO) and includes assessments of security concerns with (1) aviation-related computer systems, (2) airport access controls, and (3) passenger and carry-on baggage screening, including how the United States and selected other countries differ in their screening practices. In summary, as reported last year, the GAO's reviews of the Federal Aviation's (FAA's) oversight of air traffic control (ATC) computer systems showed that FAA had not followed some critical aspects of its own security requirements. As a result, the ATC system was susceptible to intrusion and malicious attacks. Controls for limiting access to secure areas, including aircraft, have not always worked as intended. As reported in May 2000, the GAO's special agents used fictitious law enforcement badges and credentials to gain access to secure areas, bypass security checkpoints at two airports, and walk unescorted to aircraft departure gates. The agents, who had been issued tickets and boarding passes, could have carried weapons, explosives, or other dangerous objects onto aircraft. As reported in June 2000, tests of screeners revealed significant weaknesses as measured in their ability to detect threat objects located on passengers or contained in their carry-on luggage. Screening operations in Belgium, Canada, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom differ from this country's in significant ways. Their screening operations require more extensive qualifications and training for screeners, include higher pay and better benefits, and often include different screening techniques, such as "pat-downs" of some passengers. Another significant difference is that most of these countries place responsibility for screening with airport authorities or the government instead of air carriers. These countries have lower screener turnover and there is some evidence that they may have better screener performance.

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