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Travel Safety & Security Update October 2005.

Visa Waiver Program countries must issue new passports with digital photographs to allow their citizens to gain access to the US. Visitors with valid machine-readable passports issued prior to October 26 may travel without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program. However passports issued on or after that date must have the digital photo. Visitors which arrive with a new passport without a digital photo will need a visa for entry. www.dhs.gov Oct 31, 2005

Bush to outline super-flu plan. An announcement is expected this week on how the Bush administration plans to fight the next super-flu. The plans are expected to include additional efforts to spot infections early in both the U.S. and abroad and recommendations on how to isolate the sick and distribute vaccines. Oct 30, 2005

White House misses many security deadlines. The White House has missed many deadlines for developing ways to protect the nation's transportation systems from terrorists. For example, a study on the cost of giving counterterrorism training to federal law enforcement officers flying commercially was due three years ago, and rules to protect air cargo from terrorist infiltration are two months late. Some observers say Congress demanded too many reports and plans from the Department of Homeland Security, which has been working to integrate 22 agencies. Oct 30, 2005

Terrorism insurance law is effective. A RAND Corp. report found the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act is a good way to share the financial risk from terrorism. Unless lawmakers extend it, the act will expire at the end of the year. Uninsured businesses should be encouraged to buy the insurance, the report also found. Under the act, federal subsidies to insurance companies are triggered if TRIA-covered insured losses are more than $15 billion. Oct 30, 2005

Travelers urge TSA to improve customer service. Some travelers think the Transportation Security Administration should make improving customer service a top priority, The Wall Street Journal's Scott McCartney writes. Some travelers say possessions have been stolen from their bags by security screeners. Others fliers noted the "trusted traveler" program did not shorten the time they spent at security checkpoints. Oct 28, 2005

Displaced TSA screeners assured jobs for six months. A Transportation Security Administration program allows airport screeners displaced by Hurricane Katrina to report for duty at any U.S. airport and be guaranteed a job for six months. The program, dubbed "Safe Haven," has been in place for several years. With 21 screeners, Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport has the largest number of former New Orleans workers. Oct 27, 2005

Carriers' financial woes create re-regulation debate. The airlines industry's prolonged financial troubles have prompted talk of reestablishing federal regulation, according to Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Bill Virgin. Airlines were deregulated 27 years ago, but the government still regulates safety and provides limited subsidies to small carriers. Virgin writes that deregulation democratized air travel, kept fares low and allowed more consumers to travel. Oct 26, 2005

Homeland security officials talk with N.Y. lawmakers about passport rule. New York lawmakers recently met with a Department of Homeland Security official to discuss passport requirements for travelers crossing the Canadian border. Homeland Security rules require all travelers to have a passport, but it is considering changing the requirement. The New York lawmakers oppose the passport requirement, saying the New York-Canada border has had a free flow of travelers for years. Oct 26, 2005

TSA studies overhaul of security checkpoints. The Transportation Security Administration is working to make airport security checkpoints more effective, The Wall Street Journal's Scott McCartney writes. Experts say current screening points are poorly designed and not entirely effective. The TSA wants a more "risk based" system, which would target threats instead of treating all travelers alike. It is also working on a trusted traveler program that would allow fliers who pass a background check to speed through security lines. Oct 25, 2005

Airport officials mull Registered Traveler program. Officials at 56 airports in the U.S. are considering the Registered Traveler program, and some say the program could appear in airports as early as next year. Travelers who agree to extensive background checks, finger printing and eye scans are allowed to move to the front of airport screening lines. The Transportation Security Administration is analyzing the results of a test program that attracted 10,000 participants. Oct 24, 2005

Audit finds technology company overbilled on TSA contract. A federal audit claims technology company Unisys overbilled the government on a contract to improve the transportation security system, according to The Washington Post. The company's contract to build a computer network linking airport employees to the Transportation Security Administration's security centers is costing more than double the expected amount per month. The contract is now under review for possible violations of the False Claims Act. Unisys Managing Partner of Homeland Security Tom Conaway said "there certainly was no attempt here to commit any type of misdeed in any form." Oct 24, 2005

Airport officials mull Registered Traveler program. Officials at 56 airports in the U.S. are considering the Registered Traveler program, and some say the program could appear in airports as early as next year. Travelers who agree to extensive background checks, finger printing and eye scans are allowed to move to the front of airport screening lines. The Transportation Security Administration is analyzing the results of a test program that attracted 10,000 participants. Oct 21, 2005

European carriers encounter terror insurance dilemma. Many insurance companies are refusing to cover European airlines in the event of a large-scale terrorist attack. Aviation insurance companies have covered the risk until now and a change in policy could leave the carriers exposed to millions of dollars in costs if a plane is attacked. In the U.S., the government has agreed to insure carriers even in the event of a terrorist attack. Some European airlines worry they may have to ground their fleets because no commercial airplane can fly without full insurance. Oct 20, 2005

Airlines agree to adopt water safeguards. Twenty-four airlines have agreed to adopt better safeguards for disinfecting drinking water on planes. The Environmental Protection Agency said it hopes the agreement reduces disease-carrying bacteria in drinking water. Failure to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act carries a fine of $27,500 for each violation. An investigation last year found dangerous bacteria in 15% of airplanes monitored. The Air Transport Association said most of its members signed the agreement and noted water on airplanes is usually safe. "We don't think that EPA's sample results provided enough meaningful data to draw any conclusions," ATA spokeswoman Katherine Andrus said. Oct 20, 2005

More security at Cincinnati airport brings drop in drug arrests. Tighter security at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has spurred a decline in drug-related arrests. Security improved after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the number of arrests increased. The news of tighter security measures may have eventually circulated among drug smugglers as arrests declined from 66 in 2001 to just three in 2004. Oct 20, 2005

Department of Transportation finds IT security weaknesses. A recent audit of the Department of Transportation's information technology system uncovered about 3,000 weaknesses. The agency's inspector general was able to take control of a server and get access to sensitive information. The department oversees 10 agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration. Oct 19, 2005

Airport security firm Cernium relocates to Virginia. Airport security firm Cernium said it will move its headquarters from St. Louis to Northern Virginia. The company makes software that alerts security when someone tries to go the wrong way through the exit from gate areas. Oct 19, 2005

Pilots union criticizes NTSB over accident probes. The National Transportation Safety Board should delve further into accidents to determine whether training, experience, knowledge or inadequate procedures contributed to accidents caused by human error, according to a pilots union. In a letter to the board, Air Line Pilots Association leaders said the union was concerned about what it believes is a trend to "favor the easy route of citing" crew error. Oct 18, 2005

FAA updates seat standards to boost survivability. The Federal Aviation Administration has updated requirements for seats in passenger aircraft, The Washington Post's Cindy Skrzycki writes. Seats in planes built after October 2009 must withstand 16 times the force of gravity, up from the current requirement of 9g standard. Planes that started flying in the 1990s already have versions of the updated seats, but the rule does not include planes that are already flying. Air Transport Association Vice President of Operations and Safety Basil J. Barimo said the rules make sense. "The FAA recognized they had a difficult case to make with retrofit design because a significant number of seats had already been replaced with 16g-compatible seats," he said. Oct 18, 2005

Study finds low morale at Department of Homeland Security. Employees at the Department of Homeland Security have lower morale than workers in all other departments and agencies surveyed by the federal Office of Personnel Management, according to a new study by an outside research organization. Human resource experts say the results indicate the agency has fundamental problems. Just 12% of employees who returned a questionnaire said they felt strongly that they were "encouraged to come up with new and better ways of doing things." Oct 17, 2005

The British parliament, in the form of the multiparty Transport Committee of the House of Commons, has decided to launch an inquiry into the remit and work of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The CAA is an independent public corporation responsible for the regulation of civil aviation. The corporation was set up in 1972, and it is responsible for airspace policy, safety regulation, consumer protection, as well as the economic regulation of the industry. The Committee will look at the following issues: the remit, structure, and powers of the CAA; the performance of the CAA in relation to its statutory objectives and functions; the effectiveness and efficiency of the CAA's regulatory framework and the general discharge of its duties plus the effect of growing international and European Union cooperation on its work . If you wish to submit written memoranda to the Committee, you must do so before Monday 14 November 2005. http://www.parliament.uk/transcom Oct 17, 2005

Aviation officials prepare for bird flu concerns. U.S. health and aviation officials are taking steps to guard against the rising concerns regarding bird flu by setting up more airport quarantine stations. A better system is also in place for tracking travelers who might have been exposed. Katherine Andrus, spokeswoman for the Air Transport Association, said the industry is concerned but doesn't want to overreact. "We are taking all the appropriate measures to make sure that if it's a pandemic, we're prepared to respond," she said. Oct 14, 2005

Registered Traveler program gets approval to charge fee. Officials are preparing to expand the Registered Traveler program to any airport that wants it. Lawmakers last week approved a request by the Department of Homeland Security to charge travelers fees for background checks. The program, which is run primarily by the Transportation Security Administration, has been tested at six airports. Oct 14, 2005

Registered Traveler program gets approval to charge fee. Officials are preparing to expand the Registered Traveler program to any airport that wants it. Lawmakers last week approved a request by the Department of Homeland Security to charge travelers fees for background checks. The program, which is run primarily by the Transportation Security Administration, has been tested at six airports. Oct 13, 2005

Homeland Security needs extensive reforms. The Department of Homeland Security must work quickly to restore public confidence in its ability to respond to a catastrophe, writes Paul C. Light, a professor at New York University's Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, in The Christian Science Monitor. Light believes the president should sign the homeland security appropriations bill that includes reforms recommended by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Oct 12, 2005

Investigators search for source of delays at Boston's Logan Airport. An antenna may be causing the radar system at Boston's Logan International Airport to malfunction. Flights in and out of the airport have been delayed for two days. Federal Aviation Administration investigators found errors while testing the antenna on the airport's control tower. They replaced the antenna Tuesday night. The investigators will focus on a source of radio interference if they determine the antenna is not the problem. Logan officials have also asked the FAA to rule out sabotage. Oct 12, 2005

Technology to detect wake vortexes could boost runway capacity. A Connecticut company is developing new technology to help air traffic controllers determine how close airplanes can safely follow each other. Giant laser "ears" can find the airplanes' wake vortexes -- horizontal tornadoes near each wingtip. Flight Safety Technologies is testing its system now and hopes to have it in place by next year. The system would tell controllers when the wake vortex is not dangerous, which could boost runway capacity by 20%. Oct 11, 2005

Change to TSA contract added millions to cost. A decision to move job interviews for screener positions to hotels and luxury resorts added millions of dollars to the cost of a Transportation Security Administration contract, The Washington Post reported. Government officials say the change was made with the prime contractor NCS Pearson, but documents show the decision was made before the company signed a contract. Oct 11, 2005

TSA seeks suggestions on technology to track suspicious behavior. The Transportation Security Administration is interested in technology to help detect suspicious behavior. Ideally, the technology could be used to track travelers or employees in airports, train stations and bus terminals. The TSA recently solicited suggestions for the technology from the industry, but has not decided whether to issue a request for proposals. Oct 7, 2005

Airports with private screeners get lawsuit protection. Airports will now receive legal protection if they replace federal screeners with screeners employed by private companies. A bipartisan committee of House and Senate negotiators agreed on the measure after Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., put the lawsuit protection in the final version of the Homeland Security Department's 2006 spending bill. Many airports have not switched to private screeners because they fear lawsuits that could stem from a terrorist incident. Oct 5, 2005

Airport disaster drills help keep skills sharp. The Federal Aviation Administration requires airports to conduct disaster drills every three years to keep responders' skills current. Philadelphia International Airport recently conducted its drill, which involved a mock terrorist attack and a burning jetliner. Local, state and federal agencies participated in the drill. Oct 4, 2005

TSA shouldn't curtail Registered Traveler program. The Transportation Security Administration's Registered Traveler program gave participants convenience, shorter lines for other fliers, and eased burdens on traveler screeners, according to this USA TODAY editorial. When the government halts the program for analysis, travelers will lose out on a program that was working, the editorial said. Oct 2, 2005

Corporate jets shuttle CEOs to golf games. Some companies allow their executives to use corporate jets for business and for recreation, including golf dates. The companies often pay for personal trips, and one trip can cost shareholders tens of thousands of dollars. Some of the planes cost $7,000 an hour to operate. One company said its "security plan" requires its chief executive to use the corporate jet on personal trips. Oct 2, 2005

Concorde crash investigators are examining a former Aerospatiale engineer as part of their case looking into the causes of the Air France tragedy five years ago. The engineer is the latest person to be investigated, following the announcement that Henri Perrier, former head of the Concorde program, was being examined along with Continental Airlines. The Concorde crashed shortly after take off from Paris De Gaulle Airport killing all 109 people aboard and four people in a hotel. Oct 24, 2005

Officials debate flight rules for Airbus superjumbo jet. U.S. and European safety officials are debating how far airliners should fly behind the Airbus A380 superjumbo jet during takeoffs and landings. The plane's huge wings and engines create powerful turbulence. Airbus is expected to deliver the first A380 in late 2006. Some observers say the trade dispute over aircraft subsidies may escalate the debate. Oct 5, 2005

Boeing, Airbus fix cockpit door glitch. Boeing and Airbus worked for nearly two years with the Federal Aviation Administration to redesign locks on cockpit doors. In 2003, a Northwest Airlines maintenance mechanic inside an Airbus A330 jet pushed the microphone button to talk into his handheld radio, which unlocked the cockpit door. Boeing said it finished fixing doors on all affected jets last month, and all affected Airbus jets in the U.S. were fixed by September 2004. Oct 6, 2005

Low-fare carriers find beer ad offensive. An Anheuser-Busch radio advertisement ridiculing low-fare airlines has irked AirTran Airways so much it may stop serving the company's products on its flights. The ad questions the safety of low-fare airlines, among other things. Anheuser-Busch said it pulled the ad after one airing, but it remains on an industry Web site. A Southwest Airlines spokesman called the ad "tasteless."

Oct 24, 2005

Alaska Airlines says jackscrews are properly lubricated. Alaska Airlines has inspected the jackscrews on its entire fleet of MD-80 jetliners and says it has not found more jackscrews that lack lubrication. The airline found one jackscrew without enough lubrication on Wednesday. The inspection was ordered in late September after mechanics reported they found no lubrication on a jet they inspected. The Federal Aviation Administration also launched an investigation. Jackscrew failure led to an Alaska Airlines crash in 2000. Oct 11, 2005

Alaska Airlines jackscrew probe continues. A fleetwide inspection of Alaska Airlines jetliners revealed a jackscrew with inadequate lubrication. Federal officials recently began investigating reports that a jackscrew had not been greased. A jackscrew failure led to the January 2000 crash of Flight 261. A spokeswoman for the carrier said the jackscrew showed no excessive wear and that there were no signs the part was unsafe. Oct 6, 2005

Runway incursion forces American jet to abort takeoff. An American Airlines jet aborted a takeoff at Boston's Logan International Airport after another plane crossed onto its runway. The incident, caused by pilot and controller errors, was the second runway incursion in a little more than a week, and the 16th since October 2004. The chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Port Authority has asked federal officials to sanction controllers involved in the runway incursions. Oct 6, 2005

Controller fatigued ahead of near crash at LAX. An air traffic controller was tired when a near crash happened in August 2004 at Los Angeles International Airport, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report. The report also said the control tower was staffed at half its normal level. The controller positioned a Southwest Airlines jet on a runway on which an Asiana jet was cleared to land. The planes avoided a collision by about 200 feet. Oct 24, 2005

Controllers say Atlanta airport is understaffed. Air traffic controllers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport say a wave of retirements has created staffing shortages at the airport. Safety is compromised and delays increase without the proper number of controllers, said William Pearman, president of the Atlanta chapter of the union representing the controllers. He made the remarks at a news conference near the airport. The Federal Aviation Administration says it has been replacing retiring workers and notes it is now in contract talks with the controllers. Oct 7, 2005

Logan resumes normal operations, antenna is replaced. Operations at Boston's Logan International Airport returned to normal Wednesday after a malfunctioning antenna was replaced. Flights were delayed for two days while Federal Aviation Administrations searched for the source of the problem. The faulty antenna caused phantom blips to appear on air traffic controllers' screens, which led to delays of up to four hours. Oct 13, 2005

Insurers are looking to withdraw cover for attacks on passenger aircraft using chemical, biological or radioactive weapons, European airlines and insurers said on Thursday. The move would leave airlines without cover, forcing governments to step in to shoulder the risk as they did after the September 11 attacks. Airlines, including British Airways and SAS, are in negotiations with insurers to renew policies. Insurers have already started a consultation on excluding cover for "dirty bomb" claims. Oct 24, 2005

FAA extends O'Hare flight caps to reduce delays. The Federal Aviation Administration extended a flight cap into Chicago's O'Hare International Airport into next spring. The caps are intended to reduce flight delays. The restrictions would have expired at the end of October. The rules, which went into effect in last November, feature an agreement by United Airlines and American Airlines to cut flights during peak hours. Oct 14, 2005

Helios Airways, the Cypriot airline who suffered a major loss north of Athens on August 14, was involved with two scares last week, each of which turned out to be of a minor nature. On both occasions outbound flights from Larnaca were aborted, one to London and the other Glasgow. In each case the Boeing 737-800 involved, underwent a thorough examination and air test. The fact that the pilots turned back is an indication of the sensitive situation at Helios, which will probably not be resolved until the Greek authorities complete their investigation. What is clear now is that the aircraft crashed after running out of fuel, its two pilots unconscious and the plane on autopilot for more than two hours. http://www.flyhelios.com Oct 17, 2005

FAA reports reveal maintenance issues at Northwest: Reports by Federal Aviation Administration inspectors describe training problems among replacement mechanics at Northwest Airlines as well as staffing shortfalls, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. Northwest mechanics are on strike, and the carrier has hired replacement workers to maintain its jets. The company declined to discuss the FAA reports, and said it is "confident in the quality of its maintenance program." It has conducted "refresher training" for replacement workers. Oct 3, 2005

Pittsburgh airport gets trace portal security machines. The Transportation Security Administration will install trace portal technology, devices that analyze air from passengers, at the Pittsburgh Airport. Travelers selected at random step into the machine, which then checks the air for any particles of explosives. Oct 17, 2005

Pittsburgh airport gets trace portal security machines. The Transportation Security Administration will install trace portal technology, a device that analyzes air from passengers, at the Pittsburgh Airport. Travelers selected at random step into the machine, which then checks the air for any particles of explosives. Oct 14, 2005

Cookie, toy cause evacuation at San Diego airport. Authorities evacuated a terminal at San Diego International Airport Tuesday morning after luggage screeners mistakenly thought a child's toy and a cookie were parts of a bomb. The terminal was reopened later that morning. Six flights were delayed. Oct 26, 2005

Bugs, high flying ones at that, are a real (hygiene) problem on aircraft. Thomas Cook Airlines have become the first UK carrier to use a new high tech cleaning method, to ensure that the aliens are dealt with quickly and efficiently. The cleaner, called Aerocare, kills 99.9999% of all known germs and does not have a detrimental effect on the aircraft structure and fittings. It has taken two years of negotiations and trials for the airline to come up with an answer for a healthier cabin environment - and it is all down to a process with broad-spectrum biocides, which deal with a much greater range of bugs. The fluid is strong enough to retain its potency for up to five weeks, ideal for a busy aircraft. http://www.thomascook.co.uk Oct 10, 2005

Airlines keep close eye on bird flu. Airlines are monitoring international news about a possible bird flu pandemic very carefully, but have not yet taken precautions against it. In April, John Meenan, executive vice president of the Air Transport Association, told a congressional aviation subcommittee that carriers have limited ability to deal with infectious diseases. United Airlines' corporate medical director said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not yet recommended special actions for the bird flu. Oct 12, 2005

Washington 's National Airport has started to allow private and charter aircraft to land for the first time since the September 11 2001. However, pilots will have to be accompanied by an armed, government-approved, security officer on board. The plans allow for 48 takeoffs and landings a day at the Washington airport, which compares to 122 daily takeoffs and landings in 2000. http://www.metwashairports.com Oct 24, 2005
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Publication:Airguide Online
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Oct 31, 2005
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