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Travel Security Update March 2005.

Lockheed, Covenant team up to compete for screening contracts. Lockheed Martin has partnered with Covenant Aviation Security to compete for baggage screening contracts, Bloomberg News reports. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. This year, the Transportation Security Administration will allow airports to outsource baggage screening to private contractors. A Lockheed spokesperson said the company sees a "sizable opportunity" for screening work.

Mar 31, 2005

The U.S. State Department is warning Americans that the terrorist threat in Indonesia remains high and citizens should defer all non-essential travel there. In Pakistan, there is the possibility of terrorist activity against American interests and the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and other consulates are operating with reduced staff. Al-Qaida and Taliban elements continue to operate, especially along the Afghan border. In Kyrgystan, State Department says citizens should carefully consider the risks of traveling there because political demonstrations have led to clashes between pro-government and opposition forces. The U.S. Peace Corps is considering moving its volunteers out of Jalalabad and Osh Oblasts.

Mar 28, 2005

Only six EU countries expected to meet U.S. biometric passport deadline. The European Commission expects just six EU nations to be ready to issue their citizens biometric passports by the Oct. 26 deadline set by the U.S., raising the possibility that millions of visitors to the U.S. will need visas. If Congress does not extend the deadline, tourism and other industries in the U.S. could lose millions of dollars, experts say.

Mar 28, 2005

Government report says TSA mismanaged funds at operations center. A new unpublished government report charges that officials at the Transportation Security Administration's new operations center spent part of the agency's budget on silk plants, decorative artwork and Sub- Zero refrigerators, Time magazine reports. The officials involved no longer work for the TSA, the government report says. A former TSA official said the funds were used on legitimate upgrades and described the previous control center as inadequate.

Mar 28, 2005

TSA's Secure Flight runs four months behind schedule, report says. A government report said a new program to screen air travelers is running behind schedule, and it is unclear if it adequately protects privacy. Secure Flight is set to launch in August, but a report by the Government Accountability Office said the project is running four months behind. The Transportation Security Administration has accomplished just one of the 10 objectives required in developing the program, the report said. A TSA spokeswoman said the agency still hopes to launch Secure Flight in August, but also said the TSA agreed with the report's findings.

Mar 28, 2005

Industrial chemicals could pose grave security threat. There are many vulnerable civilian targets in the U.S. that terrorists could attack, Richard A. Falkenrath writes in a Washington Post editorial. Falkenrath, former deputy security adviser to President Bush, says toxic industrial chemicals pose a particularly grave threat and he believes the federal government is not taking proper steps to secure them.

Mar 28, 2005

New screening machines will sniff passengers for explosives. Airports are adding screening machines that will sniff travelers for explosives, USA TODAY reports. The machines are the size of phone booths and cost $100,000 each. They will be installed at 150 commercial airports within the next year and help lessen the need for pat-down searches, the Transportation Security Administration said.

Mar 28, 2005

Long luggage lines could be terrorist target. Long lines of travelers waiting to check or retrieve their luggage are tempting targets for terrorists, the Los Angeles Times editorial board writes. A Rand study indicates the lines are vulnerable, but also notes the problem could be easily fixed. In the meantime, passengers should use check-in kiosks, pack light and consider alternative airports.

Mar 28, 2005

Officials did not adequately protect passengers' privacy, report says. The Department of Homeland Security did not take the proper steps to protect travelers' privacy when it tested the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System, a traveler screening program, according to a government report. The program has since been shelved. A Transportation Security Administration spokesperson said the TSA, which collected data about 12 million people, is working to improve privacy protection, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Mar 25, 2005

Frequent fliers want better security, make suggestions for TSA. Some frequent fliers say they have little confidence in routine airport security procedures and think security efforts are not thorough enough, Keith L. Alexander writes in the Washington Post. Fliers said the government should come up with better ways to guard against shoulder- fired missiles and suggested pilots and flight attendants receive self- defense training.

Mar 21, 2005

Coast Guard studies ferries to prevent possible attacks. The Coast Guard is studying passenger ferries to learn how terrorists might threaten them, the New York Times reports. Officials are studying ships operating in Seattle, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Michigan and Alaska.

Mar 21, 2005

Boost in technology spending indicates consolidation at DHS. The Department of Homeland Security may be close to consolidating some of its major programs, Washington Technology reports. The president last month proposed a large increase in technology spending for DHS after years of flat spending. The boost indicates the president supports efforts to coordinate the department's many offices and departments.

Mar 21, 2005

Government turns to smaller firms to mass produce security technology. The government is now asking smaller companies to produce devices that will help fight and detect terrorist attacks, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. State and local security agencies are also driving demand for these products. The demand has pushed three national labs in San Francisco -- Lawrence Livermore, Lawrence Berkeley and Sandia -- to license more technologies to private companies.

Mar 21, 2005

TSA, two airlines to move ahead with Secure Flight in August. The Transportation Security Administration will debut its Secure Flight program in August with two airlines that have not yet been identified, reports. Secure Flight will compare passenger data with existing watch lists. The TSA will start testing the program with commercial data once it gets approval from Congress, and it is still coordinating the effort with the government's General Accountability Office. Critics of the program say it may not adequately protect the public's privacy.

Mar 21, 2005

Los Angeles airport considers mail-back program as ban on lighters approaches. Officials at Los Angeles International Airport said they are considering a program that will allow passengers to mail prohibited items home. Some other airports already offer such a service. The upcoming ban on cigarette lighters has pushed the issue to the forefront for the Los Angeles airport.

Mar 19, 2005

Government urges TSA to analyze baggage screening system. The TSA should find a way to integrate baggage-screening equipment with a conveyer system to improve efficiency, according to the Government Accountability Office. The TSA spent 93% of its budget from 2002 through 2004 on baggage screening systems.

Mar 18, 2005

The U.S. Department of State is warning Americans that elections and demonstrations in Zimbabwe could lead to violence as the country is in the midst of political and economic turmoil. State said the country has high rates of unemployment and inflation, food shortages and an increase in crime. Periodic fuel shortages also can hinder travel. Some tourist facilities have closed on short notice as a result. Americans should avoid rallies and commercial farms, especially those occupied by settlers or so-called war veterans. These are typically young government supporters acting with impunity outside the law. Americans who travel to Zimbabwe are asked to register with the U.S. Embassy in Harare or on State's Web site at

Mar 17, 2005

Pilots, FAA discuss laser flashings at House hearing. There have been at least 112 reports of laser beams flashing aircraft cockpits since November. A Federal Aviation Administration official said during a House hearing there is no evidence linking terrorists to the lasers. One Delta Air Lines pilot said his perception of depth was thrown off by a laser, which he described as an "intensely bright green light." Pilots are now required to report laser incidents.

Mar 17, 2005

TSA says baggage screening system leaves crowds vulnerable to attacks. Terrorists may target groups of air travelers waiting for their luggage in airport lobbies, the Transportation Security Administration said in a government report. The TSA said it thinks the luggage screening system leads to higher security risks, the report said. The report, conducted by the Government Accountability Office, also said the luggage screening system causes injuries to screeners who must lift heavy bags to place them on screening machines.

Mar 16, 2005

Pilots say gun training program moves too slowly. A group of commercial airline pilots says the Transportation Security Administration program aimed at training pilots to carry guns in the cockpit is not moving fast enough. Up to 4,500 pilots have received training through the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, but that is a small percentage of the 95,000 commercial airline pilots in the U.S.

Mar 15, 2005

General aviation aircraft are vulnerable to terrorist attacks, report says. Helicopters and noncommercial planes remain vulnerable to terrorist attacks, according to a government report. General aviation aircraft are less secure than commercial jets and are easier targets for al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. The assessment of aviation security, reported in the New York Times, also stated commercial airlines will remain targets for terrorists.

Mar 14, 2005

Airports say government should pay for advanced screening system. More than 50 airports say they need a new luggage screening system that will detect explosives more accurately, USA TODAY reports. The airports say the system costs $5 billion, and they want the federal government to pay for it, but the government says the airports should pay for it themselves.

Mar 14, 2005

Chertoff defends higher security tax, calls it "economically sound". Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said it makes sense for travelers to pay higher security fees, Reuters reports. The Air Transport Association is protesting the increase of up to $8 for one-way travel because it comes at a time when airlines are posting large losses and are already heavily taxed. In remarks made Wednesday, Chertoff said the increase is "economically sound."

Mar 10, 2005

Airline pilot group gives government low marks for security efforts. Several areas of aviation security deserve failing grades, according to a report released by the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association. The group said the government does a poor job with employee screening, cargo screening and credentialing crew members. The government also received failing grades for self-defense training for crew and for efforts to counter shoulder-fired missiles.

Mar 10, 2005

Proposed security fees would boost costs for Northwest, others. Higher security fees proposed by the White House could cost Northwest Airlines $150 million a year, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. The Air Transport Association has said the proposal would boost fees for the industry by $1.5 billion annually. However, the Transportation Security Administration says travelers, not taxpayers, should cover higher security expenses.

Mar 9, 2005

Some homeland security grants amount to frivolous spending. Many homeland security grants to local and state governments amount to pork- barrel spending, James Jay Carafano writes in an editorial in the Washington Times. The co-author of "Winning the Long War: Lessons from the Cold War for Defeating Terrorism and Preserving Freedom," thinks the U.S. should devote more funds to improving intelligence and early- warning systems.

Mar 9, 2005

New York senator says Long Island Rail Road vulnerable to attacks. The Long Island Rail Road's extensive network of stations are extremely vulnerable to terrorist attacks, Newsday reports. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said his staff surveyed 30 stations and found that just 10% had security cameras and vehicle barriers and none had blast-proof garbage cans. A Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman said the LIRR is working to improve security.

Mar 7, 2005

TSA starts testing enhanced background checks; program starts in August 2005. The Transportation Security Administration in August will launch more thorough computerized background checks for certain airline passengers. Limited testing of the program will start this month and will involve checking passenger names against terrorist watch lists and other lists of personal data supplied by private companies.

Mar 4, 2005

Atlanta screeners claim they aren't getting training required by TSA. Some security screeners at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport say they have not received training required by the TSA because they are under pressure to keep lines moving quickly, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. They say they are required to sign a statement saying they have received the proper training, or they risk losing their jobs. An Atlanta airport official said screeners are getting the required training and attributes the complaints to a misunderstanding.

Mar 3, 2005

Cargo screening a weak link in air security, report says. Air cargo remains a weak link in aviation security, the Denver Business Journal reports. The contents of cargo holds are not scrutinized as closely as passengers -- rather than inspecting each piece of cargo, the TSA requires major shippers to verify its customers. The TSA says it's working to improve the cargo system.

Mar 2, 2005

TSA bans lighters aboard commercial jets, but not matches. Starting April 14 2005, the TSA will no longer allow passengers to bring lighters on commercial planes. TSA officials also wanted to ban matches, but a White House office resisted including them because a cost-benefit analysis has not been conducted. Most X-ray machines cannot detect lighters, but screeners will confiscate them if they are found.

Mar 1, 2005

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Title Annotation:Covenant Aviation Security
Publication:Airguide Online
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 30, 2005
Previous Article:Airline News January 2005.
Next Article:Frequent Flyer Program News May 2005.

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