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Travel Safety & Security Update November 2005.

Avian flu fears overblown, experts say. Experts say there is little proof that migratory wild birds will spread avian flu across the world and the chances of the birds infecting humans are quite slim. Still, highly publicized concerns about avian flu demonstrate how fear can inhibit defenses, Mick Farren writes in a Los Angeles Times commentary. Farren believes "scare tactics" may push the public to strategies that will not work. "To rely on, and even budget for, quarantine plans in a globalized world edges toward absurdity," ATA's May says no need to panic over avian flu: While measured preparation for a possible avian flu pandemic is a responsible course of action, travelers should use common sense when weighing the threat avian flu poses to air travel, Air Transport Association CEO James May writes in this Aviation Daily commentary. "Neither the CDC nor the World Health Organization has recommended that the public avoid traveling to any of the countries affected by the avian flu," May writes. Nov 29, 2005

FAA to remain "vigilant": The relative safety of air travel is a credit to the Federal Aviation Administration and the manner in which it has changed its oversight practices to evolve with the airline industry, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey writes in this USA TODAY commentary. "Nearly a decade ago, the FAA took bold steps to move away from a "checklist" approach toward a risk-based system that emphasizes quality assurance programs and self-audits," Blakey writes. Nov 29, 2005

FAA's Blakey asks for mediation in controller talks. Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Marion C. Blakey says contract talks with the union representing air traffic controllers are near an impasse. The union said the two sides are making progress, but Blakey has asked for mediation. The two sides are at odds over pay rates, among other things. Nov 29, 2005

CDC's proposal to change quarantine rules could affect carriers. Federal officials are proposing changes to quarantine rules that will expand the definition of reportable illnesses and require airlines to submit passenger lists to health officials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the plan could cost airlines hundreds of millions of dollars. The Air Transport Association agrees that current rules should be updated. "To what extent changes need to be made to existing practices will be done cooperatively with the CDC through this proposed rule making," the ATA said. Nov 23, 2005

Aircraft cabins won't make travelers ill, carriers say: It is unclear whether air travel contributes to the spread of respiratory illnesses, doctors say. Some doctors say sitting next to a sick person can cause a traveler to become ill, but airlines point out that aircraft cabins are not more dangerous than other crowded spaces. "There is nothing about aircraft cabin environment that makes it any easier to catch an illness from other people." said Katherine Andrus, the Air Transport Association's assistant general counsel. Nov 23, 2005

DHS has not completed threat database. Department of Homeland Security officials do not know when they will finish assembling a national asset and threat database. The database will list potential terrorist targets. Some lawmakers say they are frustrated with the slow pace of the database's development. Nov 23, 2005

Authorities to adopt new safety measures at Boston's Logan. The Massachusetts Port Authority and the Federal Aviation Administration have agreed on changes to prevent runway incidents at Boston's Logan International Airport. They will limit planes taking off from runways that are not part of usual takeoff patterns and require more training for air traffic controllers, among other things. They will also acquire a simulator representing Logan's runways and taxiways. Nov 23, 2005

Bird flu fears may not be necessary. As fears of a bird flu pandemic rise, experts say a worldwide threat won't occur unless the virus gains the ability to spread easily between people, and they emphasize that it may not even happen with the current H5N1 bird flu strain. World Health Organization scientists say that among the three things that need to happen for a pandemic to start -- first, the existence of a new substrain of the flu virus, second, the spread to humans to cause illness, and third, the easy spread between people -- only the first two steps have occurred in Asia, and there is currently no bird flu pandemic in the world. Nov 22, 2005

CDC adds quarantine stations to prevent possible spread of bird flu: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has opened 10 new quarantine stations at entry points to the U.S. to screen people for communicable diseases. The CDC now has officers at 17 airports on alert for travelers with the avian influenza virus. The virus is not yet transmitted between people. One scientist said the chance of the flu mutating into a highly contagious human strain is relatively small, but noted the disease would spread quickly if a mutation occurs. Nov 22, 2005

Avian flu: A call for precaution, not panic: Air Transport Association President & CEO James C. May writes that while we should take the possibility of a pandemic seriously and prepare ourselves for an unlikely outbreak, there is no need to panic. Nov 22, 2005

Confiscated items help state generate revenue. Oregon's State Surplus Program is selling lighters and cigarette lighters confiscated from airline passengers at security checkpoints. Items are divided into groups, bagged and then offered on eBay. In 2004, sales generated $72,000. Nov 22, 2005

Airport screener shares key aspects of the job. Airport screeners commonly find lighters, pocket knives and sharp pointed scissors in travelers' luggage, TSA screener Armand Collins says in a Q-and-A with the South Bend Tribune. Collins occasionally encounters angry travelers, but says most people appreciate the screeners. Screeners must be able to lift bags weighing up to 80 pounds and pass vision, hearing and drug screening tests. Nov 22, 2005

Airline maintenance needs comprehensive oversight, DOT inspector says. The Department of Transportation's inspector general said airlines need continued oversight as they cut costs by outsourcing maintenance work. Kenneth Mead said the carriers contracted out more than half of their maintenance work in 2004. "The transition to increased use of outside repair facilities is not the issue," Mead said. "It is that maintenance, wherever it is done, requires oversight." Mead made the remarks before the Senate Aviation Subcommittee. Air Transport Association Operations and Safety Vice President Basil Barimo told the subcommittee airlines are committed to improving safety and noted air travel is safer than it has ever been. Nov 18, 2005

Airlines, international firms prepare for bird flu. Major multinational companies are preparing for a possible onslaught of avian flu, which the World Bank estimates could cost the global economy $800 billion. Precautions include providing respiratory masks for traveling executives and allowing for mass telecommuting. Airlines were among the sectors hardest-hit by travel restrictions during the SARS outbreak and are now working to assuage premature pandemic anxiety. Nov 17, 2005

Europe's Parliament approves safety blacklist. Europe's Parliament approved on Wednesday the creation of a blacklist of airlines that do not meet safety requirements. An airline will be added to the blacklist "if there is verified evidence of serious safety deficiencies," according to a Parliament statement. Parliament will review and update the list every three months. Nov 17, 2005

Europe wants more control over operations of foreign carriers: The European Commission wants to give the European Aviation Safety Agency more authority over foreign airlines. A new proposal would allow the agency to certify the airlines and control safety compliance. The proposal needs approval by EU governments and the European Parliament. Nov 16, 2005

EU to vote on airline blacklist. Europe's Parliament will decide this week whether to create a blacklist of carriers that fall below safety standards. The lawmakers also want the European Commission to standardize the criteria that would be used to decide which airlines should be banned across the EU. Nov 14, 2005

Contractor overbilled FAA on air traffic contract. A government audit found Washington D.C.-based Crown Consulting overcharged the Federal Aviation Administration by $56,317 this year. The company was developing a program to manage air traffic, and the audit found it charged higher fees based on the qualifications of its workers. Crown declined to comment on the audit. Nov 14, 2005

DHS Official: Muslim travelers should register before they fly. Muslim travelers should register with the federal government before they fly, said Daniel Sutherland, the head of civil rights for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Registering would reduce the chances of a Muslim being stopped at an airport because their name is similar to a name on a terrorist watch list. Sutherland said DHS must listen to the concerns of Muslims and Arab-Americans, and he acknowledged that scrutiny at airport checkpoints has alienated the group. Nov 10, 2005

Customs official: U.S. focused on security. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert C. Bonner told World Travel Congress attendees Monday that America's top mission is homeland security. However, he said the government has taken steps to ease the process of entering the U.S. for travelers. "We're not choking off legitimate travel. We're making it safer, but also more efficient and with less hassle. [CBP] employees are guardians, but they're also the first to welcome travelers," Bonner said. Nov 10, 2005

DHS Official: Muslim travelers should register before they fly. Muslim travelers should register with the federal government before they fly, said Daniel Sutherland, the head of civil rights for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Registering would reduce the chances of a Muslim being stopped at an airport because their name is similar to a name on a terrorist watch list. Sutherland said DHS must listen to the concerns of Muslims and Arab-Americans, and he acknowledged that scrutiny at airport checkpoints has alienated the group. Nov 10, 2005

DHS wants to restructure TSA operations. The Department of Homeland Security wants to change the structure of the Transportation Security Administration. Under legislation currently being drafted, the TSA would operate like a business and more closely resemble the Federal Aviation Administration. For example, the TSA would hire a chief operating officer to manage airport security screeners. Nov 9, 2005

Airports seek guidance for response to bird flu. Airports are unsure about what they should do to prevent a potential outbreak of avian flu. Some airport officials believe the attention the issue is receiving could put pressure on airports to react. Airports follow guidelines issued by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, which, so far, require treating bird flu as a normal flu virus. Nov 9, 2005

Customs official: U.S. focused on security. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert C. Bonner told World Travel Congress attendees Monday that America's top mission is homeland security. However, he said the government has taken steps to ease the process of entering the U.S. for travelers. "We're not choking off legitimate travel. We're making it safer, but also more efficient and with less hassle. [CBP] employees are guardians, but they're also the first to welcome travelers," Bonner said. Nov 9, 2005

Private firms aid in roll out of Registered Traveler systems. Verified Identity Pass is among the private companies contributing technology to the Registered Traveler systems expected to launch at airports across the country within six months, the New York Times' Joe Sharkey writes. The company will offer a card that will let travelers pass through airport checkpoints faster and avoid pat-downs. The card costs $79.95 a year Nov 8, 2005

European airlines want to ease screening process. The Air Transport Association has cosigned a letter with the Association of European Airlines asking the White House to streamline the pre-flight screening process for passengers bound for the U.S., ATA spokeswoman Victoria Day said. The AEA also said a proposal to submit passenger manifests an hour before departure would create gridlock and huge costs. Nov 4, 2005

Flu may prompt travel restrictions. Federal plans released Wednesday indicate that if a bird flu, or another type of flu strain, pandemic breaks out, the U.S. may impose travel restrictions. Airline officials said they are continuing to work with the Air Transport Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in reaction to details of the plan. The H5N1 strain, or Asian bird flu, has not been reported in the U.S. Nov 3, 2005

Lawmakers urge Whites House to find alternatives to laser jammers. Some lawmakers believe Raytheon's Vigilant Eagle ground-based high-power microwave system is a possible alternative to using laser jammers to protect commercial airliners from missile attack. Congress has asked the White House to invest in alternatives to the jammers. The first laser-based directed infrared countermeasures installed on airliners are starting flight tests this week. The systems were built by Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Nov 3, 2005

Airlines work with CDC to prevent spread of bird flu. Airlines are working with authorities to prevent a possible bird flu pandemic. "The airlines are part of the overall surveillance network. We have a history of working with CDC to identify passengers who might be ill," said Katherine Andrus, assistant general counsel for the Air Transport Association. Nov 2, 2005

Bush reveals bird flu plans. President George W. Bush this morning announced the country will spend $7.1 billion to improve vaccines and build up supplies of antiviral drugs to combat a potential bird flu pandemic. "If a pandemic strikes, our country must have a surge capacity in place that will allow us to bring a new vaccine online quickly and manufacture enough to immunize every American against the pandemic strain," Bush said. Nov 1, 2005

Airport screeners probe murky images for threats. Security screeners at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport stare at black and white images on computer monitors, trying to determine whether a traveler is carrying a banned item. The screeners earn $32,000 on average, and workers need three hours of weekly training. Some of airport's 1,000 screeners analyze checked bags, while others focus on searching passengers. Nov 1, 2005

Boeing, Airbus work on air traffic modernization effort. Boeing and Airbus have set six goals to help improve and modernize the air traffic control system. They have formed teams to work on navigation performance, air-to-ground communications, ground-based landing systems, airborne separation assistance programs, risk assessment for air traffic control systems, and the exchange of 4D trajectories. They are using a common approach so planes built by Boeing and Airbus can use the same avionics worldwide. Nov 30, 2005

Some officials criticize Chicago's plan to use D/FW as model. Chicago's plan for a $15 billion expansion and redesign of O'Hare International Airport contains major flaws, Federal Aviation Administration officials and air traffic controllers say. Chicago airport officials are using the Dallas/Fort Worth airport as a model for the future O'Hare. However, the FAA points out the Dallas airport is three times the size of O'Hare. Also, O'Hare does not have room for adding perimeter taxiways, which is a major part of the Dallas redesign. Nov 21, 2005

Government to lift ban on penknives, scissors. The federal government is preparing new rules that would roll back some post-Sept. 11 prohibitions that many aviation experts say slow security lines and are no longer needed to protect aircraft, such as the ban on penknives and scissors. "If it's a more targeted list, that's all the better for security as a whole," Air Transport Association spokeswoman Victoria Day said. Nov 3, 2005

Homeland Security must improve planning. Lawmakers must empower the Department of Homeland Security to work and plan more effectively, the Dallas Morning News editorial board writes. Recent media reports show DHS has missed deadlines for planning ways to protect airlines, ships and railroads from terrorist attacks. The newspaper believes low morale within the department and extensive debriefing requirements have contributed to the problem. Nov 2, 2005

Los Angeles commission may hire firm to improve airport security. The Los Angeles Airport Commission may hire Rand Corp. to make the Los Angeles International Airport more secure. Rand would work with the Transportation Security Administration to shorten lines at security checkpoints. A report to the commission by airport staff encouraged the commission to award the $900,000 contract to Rand. A study by Rand more than a year ago found travelers on LAX's sidewalks and in its lobbies at risk from bombs. Nov 7, 2005

Millions of fliers expected over Thanksgiving holiday. U.S. airlines will carry 21.7 million travelers this Thanksgiving. Air Transport Association Chief Executive Officer and President James May said carriers have worked with the Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Security Administration to ensure air travel is safe and convenient during the holiday season. Nov 10, 2005

New system will lower the chances of runway incidents, FAA says. The Federal Aviation Administration will start installing a new system in January that will lower the chances of runway and taxiway collisions. The system will help air traffic controllers spot collisions during poor weather and at night. The Air Transport Association said it supports the new system and believes it could improve safety. Nov 3, 2005

Northrop, BAE test airliner missile defense systems. BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman last week tested systems that could defend airliners from shoulder-fired missiles. The systems use lasers to jam incoming missiles. Airlines are concerned about cost and maintenance of the systems, said John Meanen, executive vice president of the Air Transport Association. Nov 14, 2005

FAA finds Northwest met safety standards during walkout. The Federal Aviation Administration found Northwest Airlines met safety standards in September when its mechanics were on strike. The FAA also found some allegations were valid, and it prompted Northwest to comply with guidelines. The FAA said it will look into further allegations of maintenance violations raised in October by the Department of Transportation. Nov 17, 2005

NTSB: New technology needed to prevent collisions. Airports need new technology to reduce the number of near collisions, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. More than 324 near misses occurred in the year ended Sept. 30. "While the majority of incursions present little to no collision risk, a significant number of high-risk incidents continue to occur," said Sandy Rowlett, a deputy safety board operations chief. "There is an urgent need to reduce the hazard presented to the public by these events.". Firm develops shoe scanner for airport security. Quantum Magnetics has developed a scanner that can detect explosives without travelers having to remove their shoes. Quantum is based in Newark, Calif., and is a unit of GE Security. A traveler steps into the scanner and places her feet on the shoe-shaped pads. The device then uses magnetic fields to scan for explosives and other threatening objects. Airport officials say it could take years before scanners appear in airports. Nov 16, 2005

Retrofits aimed at reducing chances of fuel-tank explosion, FAA says. New Federal Aviation Administration proposals would require airlines to install devices on their jetliners that would lower the risk of fuel-tank explosions. The requirements would cost airlines $315 million over seven years. Major carriers were consulted about the changes and expected the new requirements, according to the Air Transport Association. Nov 15, 2005

Runway construction contributes to safety issues at Logan, FAA's Blakey says. The construction of a new runway at Logan International Airport is distracting pilots and contributing to the increasing number of runway incidents, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Some pilots have accidentally crossed into runways used by other planes, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said. Blakey said the FAA and the Massachusetts Port Authority are improving markings and adding flashing lights to better direct pilots. Nov 18, 2005

Seattle airport's taxiway creates confusion, controversy. Experienced pilots have mistaken a taxiway for an active runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport eight times since 1999. One plane actually landed on the taxiway. The National Transportation Safety Board has warned that the confusion could eventually cause a collision. Officials from the airport the Federal Aviation Administration say they have fixed the problem by educating pilots and making the runways more visible. Nov 15, 2005

State of airline industry a cause for safety concerns. Despite the airline industry's "enviable record for safety," travelers should be aware of the impact financial troubles, maintenance outsourcing, and lagging government oversight could have on the safety of air travel, USA TODAY writes in this editorial. Nov 29, 2005

The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting a two-day course that details how the NTSB investigates major aircraft accidents and what it expects of participants in an investigation. Aviation Industry Training for Airline Professionals will be held on December 1-2 at NTSB headquarters in Washington, D.C. Nov 3, 2005

Travel industry calmly prepares for avian flu. The travel industry is preparing for the possibility of avian flu mutating into a strain that could be transmitted between people, but it is asking travelers not to panic. In 2003, the SARS epidemic spurred a sharp drop in travel even though the disease was limited to Asia and Canada. Katherine Andrus, an Air Transport Association attorney, said the avian flu is not an immediate threat, and noted that the ATA does not expect travelers to change their plans. Nov 21, 2005

Travelers should take precautions for avian flu without panicking: Airlines and travelers should take the possibility of an avian flu outbreak seriously, but "there is no need for panic," writes Air Transport Association President and Chief Executive Officer James May in Aviation Daily. May noted there is no evidence that a pandemic is imminent and that scientists say avian flu is primarily a problem for birds at this point. May also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have not advised the public to avoid traveling to countries affected by the avian flu. Nov 23, 2005

TSA develops new technology to tighten security. The Transportation Security Administration is under pressure to improve security-screening technology. Its projects, which include new technology that scans bottles and shoes for bombs, are in early development stages and may not be used for years. The TSA is also working to improve luggage-screening technology and has awarded $10 million to companies working on new systems. Nov 8, 2005

TSA examines ways to speed fliers through security. The federal government is developing ways to speed frequent fliers through airport security screening checkpoints. The Transportation Security Administration is still evaluating a program that allows travelers who go through extensive background checks to move faster through security. The Air Transport Association said the program has great potential, but noted the TSA should identify how the program benefits travelers. Nov 3, 2005

TSA has not assessed air cargo security. The Transportation Security Administration has not yet assessed the air cargo security system and has no schedule to do so, according to a Government Accountability Office report. The report said the TSA cannot adequately protect planes that carry cargo until it is aware of weaknesses in the security system. The TSA does not collect information on many registered companies that ship goods on passenger airliners. A TSA spokeswoman said the agency has increased the number of required cargo inspections and is testing new security technology. Nov 16, 2005

TSA plan would allow sharp objects in carry-on bags. Travelers may soon be able to bring sharp objects such as scissors in their carry-on bags under a new plan by the Transportation Security Administration, the Washington Post reported, quoting unnamed sources. The TSA will announce the plan Friday. A TSA spokeswoman would not comment on the details but said the TSA will announce "a number of new initiatives that will have both a positive security and customer service impact." Nov 30, 2005

TSA to launch nationwide Registered Traveler program in June. The Transportation Security Administration will roll out the Registered Traveler program at airports across the U.S. in June. The program allows frequent fliers who agree to an extensive background check to speed through security lines. Airports would use private firms to conduct background checks and register travelers. Critics of the program say it may weaken security and violate the privacy of travelers. Nov 4, 2005

Virgin Atlantic orders stockpile of bird flu drug. Virgin Atlantic Airways wants to be prepared for a possible human outbreak of bird flu and has ordered a stockpile of the antiviral drug Tamiflu. The airline called the move "a purely precautionary measure." It is monitoring the spread of avian flu and is communicating with U.K. and U.S. officials. The airline does not fly to any of the four countries currently reporting human outbreaks. Nov 4, 2005
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Title Annotation:air travel
Publication:Airguide Online
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 30, 2005
Previous Article:Company Watch September 2005.
Next Article:Airline News October 2005.

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