Aviation security : weaknesses in airport security and options for assigning screening responsibilities
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Aviation security : weaknesses in airport security and options for assigning screening responsibilities

Filetype[PDF-107.24 KB]

  • English

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    • Abstract:
      This is the statement of Gerald L. Dillingham, Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues before the Subcommittee on Aviation, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of Representatives regarding aviation safety and security. The statement discusses the vulnerabilities that the General Accounting Office (GAO) has identified in the safeguards to protect passengers and prevent unauthorized access to or attacks on aircraft. The testimony is based on prior work of GAO and a GAO review that is underway. It includes assessments of security concerns with (1) airport access controls, (2) passenger and carry-on baggage screening, and (3) alternatives to current screening practices, including practices in selected other countries. In summary, controls for limiting access to secure areas, including aircraft, have not always worked as intended. As reported in May 2000, special agents used counterfeit law enforcement badges and credentials to gain access to secure areas at two airports, bypassing security checkpoints and walking unescorted to aircraft departure gates. As reported in June 2000, testing of screeners shows that significant, long-standing weaknesses - measured by the screeners' abilities to detect threat objects located on passengers or contained in their carry-on luggage - continue to exist. As screeners' performance tests more closely approximate how a terrorist might attempt to penetrate a checkpoint, screener's performance declines significantly. A primary cause of poor performance is rapid screener turnover due to low wages, limited benefits, insufficient training, and the tedious nature of the work. Four options for alternative approaches to the current system of responsibility for screening baggage include 1) continue with air carriers but with new requirements, 2) assign responsibility to airports, 3) shift responsibility to the federal government - a) either through the creation of a new federal agency or b) by the creation of a federal corporation.
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