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Travel Safety & Security Update July 2005.

FAA supports controversial O'Hare expansion plan. The Federal Aviation Administration said it supports Chicago's $15 billion plan to expand O'Hare International Airport. Chicago officials expect the FAA to grant final approval in September and hope the expansion reduces flight delays. However, the plan faces opposition from some communities. It would require Chicago to raze 500 homes, displacing 2,600 people, and move 200 businesses and a cemetery. Jul 29, 2005

Airport directors say screener cuts would lengthen security lines. Airport directors say plans to cut the number of airport screeners by 13% could lengthen security lines. A Senate spending measure would cut 6,000 of the Transportation Security Administration's 45,000 screeners. The Department of Homeland Security also opposes the plan. The House of Representatives has voted to cut 2,000 screener positions, according to TSA officials. However, the chairman of the House subcommittee overseeing Homeland Security funding said lawmakers voted to cut unnecessary costs, not screener positions. Jul 29, 2005

Two airports ask to switch to private screeners. Just two airports have asked to switch to private security screeners from federal security screeners. Sioux Falls Regional Airport in South Dakota and Elko Regional Airport in Nevada have applied to change screeners. The House Homeland Security subcommittee will hold a hearing Thursday to learn why more airports have not applied to change to private screeners. Jul 28, 2005

TSA installs explosives-detection device at Newark Liberty. A new explosives-detection machine installed in Newark Liberty International Airport may reduce the need for pat-downs. The Transportation Security Administration installed the machine, which blows puffs of air at each person entering it. The air blows particles to the ground, where they are sucked into vents and analyzed. Officials say the machine will help prevent terrorist threats but will not reduce the need for screeners. Jul 27, 2005

FAA, controllers union state opening offers in contract talks. The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed a pay freeze for current air traffic controllers and lower pay for new hires. The union representing the 15,000 workers has proposed annual pay increases of 5.6% and a seven- hour workday. Controllers now work eight hours a day. The current contract expires in September. Jul 27, 2005

FAA, controllers' union start contract talks. Contract negotiations between a union representing 15,000 air traffic controllers and the Federal Aviation Administration began last week. Each side held a press conference before the talks began. The FAA indicated it would ask the union to give back pay increases received in a 1998 contract. The union said the FAA has inflated salary figures. The negotiations could influence the FAA's launch of new technology to reduce flight delays. Jul 26, 2005

Security funds should be allocated based on need. The Senate recently voted to give all states a relatively equal share of $2.9 billion in federal security grants. Instead, lawmakers should have distributed funds to cities and counties at the greatest risk of terrorist attacks, according to a San Francisco Chronicle editorial. Jul 26, 2005

TSA database violates Privacy Act, government report says. A Transportation Security Administration database that included biographical information on 43,000 passengers from private companies violated the federal Privacy Act, according to government auditors. Although the database broke the law, it did not cause the release of personal data or wrongly stop a passenger from boarding a commercial plane. The TSA used the database to test the Secure Flight Screening system, which is expected to launch next year. The government will also try to decide whether the TSA can use commercial data to locate terrorist sleeper cells. Jul 24, 2005

FAA to resume testing navigation system at D/FW. The Federal Aviation Administration will resume testing of a global satellite navigation system at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The system was created to guide pilots along more direct routes. Testing was halted last fall after several incidents raised safety concerns. FAA officials said they have made changes to the system to prevent similar mistakes. The Air Transport Association said the system would boost the number of planes handled at D/FW by about 14%. Jul 24, 2005

The Federal Aviation Administration, air traffic controllers and pilots should work to eliminate near-collisions on airport runways, a New York Times editorial says. Although these incidents are rare, they are avoidable and should not happen, the editorial reads. Jul 24, 2005

Cell phone debate takes flight. Although the Federal Communications Commission seems ready to lift its ban on cell phone use on commercial aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration is more reluctant. But even after the FAA signaled last month it would consider requests on a case-by-case basis, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice both expressed concerns that terrorists could use cell phones to coordinate attacks. Jul 22, 2005

Agency should improve cyber security, government official says. The Department of Homeland Security must develop a recovery plan in the event of a widespread attack on the Internet, a government official said. David Powner, director of IT Management for the Government Accountability Office, said the agency must also develop a way to assess threats to national cyber security. Powner made the remarks before a U.S. Senate subcommittee earlier this week. Jul 21, 2005

Senate committee hears arguments on pilot retirement age. The Federal Aviation Administration's air surgeon told the Senate Commerce Committee that flying commercial jetliners after age 60 can compromise safety. A rule now requires pilots to retire at 60, but some groups, including the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, say the rule forces the most experienced pilots to retire and want lawmakers to raise the mandatory retirement age. Jul 20, 2005

Private firms can run Registered Traveler Program. Some airports will hire private companies to administer the government's Registered Traveler program, the Transportation Security Administration said. The program allows prescreened travelers to enter a special security line. The travelers go through a metal detector but are exempt from additional screening. Officials said the program will move faster if private companies run it. Jul 20, 2005

Authorities arrest active pilots who received disability pay. Authorities have arrested 40 pilots in Northern California who may have flown while afflicted with serious illnesses. Some of the pilots are commercial and transport pilots. The pilots were receiving disability payments for serious medical conditions ranging from bipolar disorder to heart problems, according to the U.S. attorney's office. A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said it is unclear how many of the pilots flew for a living. Jul 19, 2005

Companies, feds work to develop bomb detection technology. Bomb-sniffing dogs remain the most effective way to find explosives on a person boarding a subway or bus. Federal officials say no technology exists to detect someone carrying bombs. Companies and government agencies are working to develop technology for mass transit systems. Even advanced equipment, such as the PROTECT chemical sensor system used in Washington, D.C., is not designed to prevent an attack. Jul 19, 2005

Homeland Security should coordinate intelligence, protection units. The reorganization of the Department of Homeland Security will emphasize the role of intelligence in preventing terrorist attacks, writes Clark Kent Ervin, former inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security in a New York Times editorial. Kent believes the intelligence unit must closely coordinate with the department's infrastructure protection group, which is responsible for preventing and preparing for terrorist attacks. The U.S. is vulnerable to its enemies if a gap between intelligence and preparedness exists, he writes. Jul 18, 2005

Travelers welcome end of 30-minute rule. Travelers praised the Department of Homeland Security's decision to end a rule requiring them to remain seated for 30 minutes before landing at Washington, D.C., airports. The department also said Reagan National Airport will reopen to private aircraft next month. Jul 18, 2005

Waits in security lines vary among U.S. airports. The amount of time travelers spend in security lines varies widely from airport to airport. The amount of time spent in line often depends on airline scheduling and an airport's architecture. Airports that are home to growing carriers are often crowded with longer wait times. An analysis by USA TODAY found travelers encountered lines more than 10 minutes long 6% of the time. Jul 15, 2005

FAA to keep cell phone ban, administrator says. The Federal Aviation Administration will keep a ban on cell phone use on commercial jetliners in place even if the Federal Communication Commission ends its ban, said FAA Associate Administrator Nicholas Sabatini. The House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on aviation heard arguments for and against cell phone use on commercial flights Thursday. Sabatini said the FAA may lift the ban as companies launch wireless technologies that do not interfere with navigation equipment. Jul 15, 2005

Instability creates boom for travel insurance industry. Terrorist attacks, natural disasters and financial instability in the airline industry have created a boom for the travel insurance business. Incidents in popular tourist destinations, including London and Madrid, have spurred more travelers to purchase travel insurance. About 30% of leisure travelers purchased $1 billion in terrorism insurance last year, according to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association. Jul 15, 2005

Airline experts see promising future. In a promising outlook, a group of airline industry experts yesterday told a federal Senate subcommittee that airlines have reduced costs to the point that were it not for higher fuel prices, some would be reporting significant profits. Next year, lawmakers will reauthorize spending for the Federal Aviation Administration, and the industry wants them to cut a range of taxes and fees. The Government Accountability Office is scheduled to release a report on the airlines in September. Jul 14, 2005

The Department of Homeland Security has lifted a rule requiring airline passengers to stay in their seats for 30 minutes while approaching or departing from Washington's Reagan National Airport. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said security improvements have made the rule obsolete. Chertoff also announced a broad restructuring of his department. The plan includes a more intense focus on border security and new offices for bioterrorism, intelligence and policy planning.

Jul 14, 2005

Antimissile tests to start on three jetliners in August. Testing of antimissile equipment will start next month on three out-of-service jetliners. Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems will equip the jets with systems designed to move shoulder-fired missiles off course. The decision to install the equipment on commercial jets is years away, and the cost is estimated at $6 billion. Jul 14, 2005

FAA, controllers union to start contract talks next week. Formal contract negotiations between the Federal Aviation Administration and air traffic controllers' union will start next week. The FAA, which is facing a budget crunch, is expected to ask for lower salaries and different work rules. Union representatives would not indicate whether they would accept those changes. Jul 14, 2005

Authorities seek ability to monitor in-flight e-mail. Federal authorities are seeking the ability to intercept or block online communication to and from commercial jets. The government wants Internet providers to allow federal monitoring of e-mail within 10 minutes of a court order. The FBI, Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security requested Internet surveillance in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission. Jul 13, 2005

London sees only slight decline in tourism after attacks. The terrorist attacks last week in London caused only a slight downturn in tourism, according to the city's tourism officials. Airlines have reported few cancellations and no-shows. The tourism industry accounts for about 10% of London's economy. Jul 13, 2005

Chertoff to announce Homeland Security restructuring. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is expected to announce a major overhaul of his department today. Changes will include realigning agencies responsible for aviation and border security. Analysts also say the restructuring will help the department better protect computer and financial networks. Chertoff also wants to reduce parts of the agency, which employs about 180,000 people. Jul 13, 2005

State Department must improve passport screening. The State Department should take steps to ensure applicants for U.S. passports are screened against a comprehensive list of fugitives and terrorists, a USA TODAY editorial says. A recent report by the Government Accountability Office showed the State Department did not check passport applicants against the FBI's consolidated terrorist list. Similar problems persist in other government agencies, the editorial reads. Jul 13, 2005

Lawmaker requests investigation of airport security jobs. The head of the House aviation subcommittee believes there may be too many federal security administrators at U.S. airports. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., has requested an investigation, saying some administrators have "questionable job descriptions that pay over $100,000 a year." He wants the Department of Homeland Security to cut the Transportation Security Administration's administrative staff. Jul 13, 2005

FAA, airlines push for opening more Fort Lauderdale runways. An informal agreement between the Federal Aviation Administration and a local Florida community allows jet traffic on only one of three runways at Fort Lauderdale's airport. Airline and FAA officials want to use all of the runways, but community officials fear there will be excessive noise and say they may sue to prevent the change. The growing airport has seen an increase in long flight delays, but officials say using the additional runways would alleviate the problem. Jul 12, 2005

TSA revises lighter policy. The Transportation Security Administration now will allow airline passengers to pack unfueled lighters in checked bags. The TSA continues to forbid passengers from taking a fueled lighter on an airplane in a carryon bag. The revisions came after lobbying by Zippo Manufacturing, which makes flip-top metal lighters. Travelers often purchase the lighters as souvenirs. Jul 12, 2005

Airlines expect slight dip in European bookings after bombings. The London bombings will prompt only a slight decline in airline bookings to England over the next 10 weeks, analysts said. Travelers have not rushed to cancel their plans, and airlines expect some bound for London to only change their itineraries. The Air Transport Association expects 200 million people to travel on U.S. carriers this summer. Jul 8, 2005

Terror alert raised for domestic mass transit: U.S. government officials raised the terror threat level to orange, indicating a high risk for terror attack, for U.S. rail services and other mass transit. Airlines are not affected by the change. Jul 8, 2005

London bombings leave transportation systems in chaos. At least four explosions rocked London's public transportation system this morning. The Underground railway system has been shut down, and airlines expect flights to be affected due to disruption of rail lines that serve London's airports. Travel to and in central London today is strongly discouraged.

Jul 7, 2005

Strict rules tarnish U.S. reputation among foreign travelers. Tight security rules are discouraging international travelers from visiting the U.S. Observers say the rules are slowing the rebound for airlines and hotels and note planned passport and visa rules are affecting the U.S.'s reputation as a country that values hospitality and freedom. Jul 7, 2005

Pentagon considers strategy shift to counter terrorism. The Pentagon is considering moving away from its two-war strategy and devoting more of the military's resources to defending the U.S. against terrorist attacks, The New York Times reported. The longtime strategy has required the military to be equipped to fight two large wars at once. Shifting resources to counter terrorism and domestic defense would change the size and composition of the military. Jul 6, 2005

Scientists create virtual cities to combat terrorism. Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have designed complex computer models of virtual cities inhabited by millions of virtual people, The Washington Post reported. Researchers hope the project will help them learn how terrorists decide where to strike. The models have helped officials at the Department of Homeland Security prioritize their strategy for fighting terrorism. Jul 5, 2005

Investigators examine TSA contract for evidence of fraud. Government officials said investigators are examining a Transportation Security Administration contract for evidence of fraud by private companies, The Washington Post reported. An audit recently revealed $303 million of unsubstantiated spending by private contractors during a project to hire airport screeners. The TSA awarded the $741 million contract to NCS Pearson after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. A Pearson spokeswoman said the company is cooperating in the investigation. Jul 1, 2005

New radar system lets controllers see more planes, cut delays. A new radar viewing system installed at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport could improve safety and cut delays, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported. The Federal Aviation Administration will install the new system, called the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, at 47 U.S. airports. It allows controllers to see more than 1,300 planes at a time, compared with just 250 with the old system. Jul 1, 2005

Two jetliners narrowly avoid collision at JFK. An ABX Air cargo jetliner nearly collided with an Israir Boeing 767 with 262 people on board at John F. Kennedy International Airport earlier this month. The cargo jet was moving down a runway at 100 miles an hour when its first officer noticed an aircraft directly in its path. He pulled back on the yoke, which lifted the plane into the air and avoided a collision. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating. Jul 26, 2005

Jet returns to Paris after "no-fly" passenger is identified. U.S. officials on Friday ordered an Air France jetliner bound for Chicago to return to Paris because a passenger was on the U.S. "no fly" list. The plane was two hours into its journey before officials realized the passenger's name matched one on the list. Homeland Security officials said the passenger was in fact on the list and that the incident was not a case of mistaken identity. Jul 11, 2005

Two drunken pilots sentenced to prison time. Two America West pilots were sentenced to prison yesterday after being convicted June 8 of operating an aircraft while drunk. The pilots were arrested before the jetliner took off and were later fired. Thomas Cloyd was sentenced to five years in prison. At the time of his arrest, he was on probation for an alcohol-related offense. Christopher Hughes was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. Jul 22, 2005

America West COO helps guide airline as he fights cancer. America West Airlines Chief Operating Officer Jeff McClelland has helped his company survive soaring fuel prices, cutthroat competition and changes in security requirements. He has also spent the past couple of years fighting cancer. McClelland decided to share his illness with the public during the company's media day in February because his chemo pump was visible. America West now plans to merge with US Airways. McClelland, who was undergoing treatment during talks, helped negotiate the transaction by conference call. Jul 18, 2005

Two planes come too close at LAX. For at least the seventh time this year, two planes came too close to each other at Los Angeles International Airport. A Cessna Caravan on Thursday crossed a runway where an American Airlines jetliner was preparing to take off. A string of near-misses has occurred at the airport since May, officials said. Authorities attributed six incidents to pilot error and one to an air traffic controller's mistake. Jul 29, 2005

American Airlines reduces flights to Haiti. American Airlines is reducing service to Haiti because of a seasonal drop in demand. The airline will cancel three of its daily nonstop flights from the U.S. A spokeswoman for the airline said security was not a factor in the decision to cancel flights. Jul 7, 2005

NTSB says FAA not acting quickly enough on fuel-tank inerting. Safety officials are not yet requiring airlines to install a plastic tube that would reduce the chance of a fuel tank explosions on large planes, officials at the National Safety Transportation Board said. The Federal Aviation Administration announced the system in February 2004. Airlines say they have already addressed the issue and question whether the plastic tube, which would cost up to $220,000 to install per plane, is necessary. Boeing and the FAA say progress has been made to develop safer fuel systems. Jul 7, 2005

Chicago officials underestimated cost of O'Hare project. A government review revealed officials underestimated the cost of expanding Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Officials thought the project, intended to alleviate flight congestion, would cost $15 billion. The report, scheduled for release today, urges the Federal Aviation Administration to verify the city's cost estimates. Jul 24, 2005

Flyi may face second FAA fine in two years. Flyi, the parent of Independence Air, may face its second fine in two years for safety violations. A year ago, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed a $1.5 million fine for its predecessor, Atlantic Coast Airlines. The airline negotiated a settlement and promised to correct the problems. Now Flyi faces $1.55 million in additional fines for violations similar to those in the previous case. Company officials say they reported the problems to the FAA in both instances. They blame the problems on an outdated computer maintenance system. Jul 25, 2005

Southwest Airlines launches plan for Boeing Field. Southwest Airlines said it will build a $130 million terminal at Boeing Field if it is allowed to operate flights there. The airline currently flies from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport but has proposed a move to Boeing Field to lower costs. If its plan is approved, the airline would launch Boeing Field service by 2009. Critics say taxpayers would end up paying for road and highway improvements and airport security upgrades. Jul 22, 2005

Southwest Airlines to propose move to Boeing Field. Southwest Airlines is expected today to propose moving to Boeing Field from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Boeing Field is used by chartered jets and small planes and would need upgrades and new facilities, including security checkpoints, to accommodate Southwest. Southwest says flying out of Seattle-Tacoma International, where an expansion plan has raised airlines' operating costs, is too expensive. Critics say other airlines would lose traffic if Southwest departs from Boeing Field. Jul 21, 2005

Discovery Channel to air United Flight 93 documentary. The Discovery Channel will air the first dramatized re-creation of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93. United Airlines and some family members of the Fight 93 victims cooperated with London-based Brook Lapping Productions to make the film, titled "The Flight That Fought Back." The documentary will air on the four-year anniversary of the hijacking. Jul 18, 2005

Airlines at Dulles airport face shortage of screening machines. A higher number of flights and travelers have stalled efforts by the Transportation Security Administration to screen passenger luggage on time at Dulles International Airport, the Washington Post reported. Budget carrier Independence Air launched in April, helping to boost traffic by 39%. Now airlines say they are experiencing delays because there are not enough screening machines. Jul 5, 2005
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Publication:Airguide Online
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 30, 2005
Previous Article:Travel Safety & Security Update June 2005.
Next Article:Travel Safety & Security Update August 2005.

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