Aviation Security: Issues Before Congress Since September 11, 2001

CRS Report for Congress
Aviation Security: Issues
Before Congress Since
September 11, 2001
Updated February 6, 2004
Bartholomew Elias
Specialist in Aviation Safety, Security, and Technology
Resources, Science, and Industry Division

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

Aviation Security: Issues Before Congress Since
September 11, 2001
The events of September 11, 2001 heightened concerns regarding aviation
security in the United States. The ensuing debate in Congress focused on the degree
of federal involvement needed to improve aviation security and restore public
confidence in air travel. The Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA, P.L.

107-71, 115 Stat. 597) established the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

and contained provisions establishing a federal screener workforce and requiring
screening of checked baggage using explosive detection systems. ATSA also
significantly expanded the federal air marshal program, required that all cockpit
doors be strengthened, and provided for various other aviation security measures.
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296, 116 Stat. 2135) established the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and placed the TSA within DHS.
Funding for aviation security programs remains a central issue especially since
passenger and air carrier security fees fall well short of fully funding these programs.
Funding for airport security improvements also remains a key issue because costly
projects to place explosive detection systems in baggage handling facilities are
placing a strain on Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds. A provision in the
FAA reauthorization act (Vision 100, P.L. 108-176, 117 Stat. 2490) establishes a
capital fund for installing explosive detection equipment in airport baggage handling
facilities. Up to $500 million per year through FY 2007 is authorized for this
purpose, and $250 million was appropriated in FY 2004 (see P.L. 108-90, 117 Stat.
1137, H.Rept. 108-280). Other ongoing issues for Congress include funding for
aviation security programs, oversight of aviation security activities, and consideration
of legislative measures to enhance aviation security in areas such as air cargo
operations. The Air Cargo Security Act (S. 165), passed by the Senate on May 8,
2003, focuses on improvements to security of cargo transported on passenger
airplanes as well as all-cargo operations. Similar legislation has been introduced in
the House (H.R. 1103; H.R. 2455). Besides air cargo security, other key aviation
security issues include: privacy issues regarding the new computer-aided passenger
pre-screening system (CAPPS II) being developed, improving access to secure airport
areas; protecting airliners from shoulder-fired missiles; and security of general
aviation operations.
In November 2004, airports will be eligible to opt out of the federal security
screening program and a provision of P.L. 107-296 preserving TSA in its present
form will expire allowing DHS to restructure the TSA if it so chooses, although no
such plan has been revealed to date. During the second session of the 108th Congress,
oversight of TSA’s plans for implementing the security screening opt-out program
will likely be of considerable interest as will any plans to restructure the TSA.
This report will be updated as warranted by events.

In troduction ..................................................1
Funding for Aviation Security Programs............................2
Budget and Appropriations..................................2
Offsetting the Cost of Aviation Security........................5
Transitioning TSA to the Department of Homeland Security ...........6
Airport Security...............................................7
Passenger Pre-screening.....................................7
Federal Screeners.........................................10
Private Security Screening..................................12
Baggage Screening........................................12
Access to Secure Airport Areas and Airport Perimeter Security.....14
In-Flight Security Aboard Passenger Airliners......................15
Federal Air Marshals......................................15
Flight Deck Intrusion and Penetration Resistance................17
Armed Pilots............................................18
Security Training for Flight and Cabin Crews...................19
Protecting Aircraft from Shoulder-Fired Missiles................20
Air Cargo Security............................................21
Security of Cargo Carried in Passenger Aircraft.................21
Blast-Resistant Cargo Container Technology...................23
All-Cargo Aircraft Security.................................23
Flight School and General Aviation Security.......................24
Flight School Security.....................................24
Pilot Background Checks and Certificate Actions................25
Airport Watch Program....................................26
Security of Charter Operations and Private Aircraft..............26
Airspace Restrictions......................................29
List of Tables
Table 1. Aviation Security Appropriations ($ Million)....................3
Table 2. Funding for Aviation Security Functions, FY2004................3
Table 3. TSA Budget Request for FY2005..............................4

Aviation Security: Issues Before Congress
Since September 11, 2001
The September 11, 2001 hijacking of four transport category passenger airplanes
from three different airports and the enormous loss of life and destruction of property
that resulted from the terrorist attacks using these aircraft as weapons focused
concerns on aviation security in the United States. During the aviation security
debate in Congress following these attacks, the overarching issue was the degree of
federal involvement needed to improve aviation security and restore the public's
confidence in air travel.
On November 19, 2001, President Bush signed the Aviation and Transportation
Security Act (ATSA, P.L. 107-71). ATSA shifted much of the responsibility for
aviation security from the airports and airlines to the federal government. The Act
established a new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) headed by an Under
Secretary of Transportation for Security. Three months after enactment (February 17,
2002), the responsibilities for aviation security were transferred from the Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) to the TSA.
On November 25, 2002, President Bush signed the Homeland Security Act of
2002 (P.L. 107-296). This Act established the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) and placed the TSA intact as a distinct entity within DHS under the Border
Transportation and Security Directorate for the first 2 years following enactment.
TSA migrated to the newly formed DHS in March, 2003.
In the 108th Congress, the FAA Reauthorization Act (Vision 100, P.L. 108-176)
has served as the principle vehicle for enacting several statutory changes pertaining
to aviation security. Most notably, Vision 100 established an aviation security capital
fund for integrating explosive detection equipment into airport baggage handling
systems. This fund is authorized up to $500 million per fiscal year through FY2007,
of which $250 million is designated as mandatory spending derived from aviation
security fees. $250 million was appropriated for explosive detection equipment
installation in FY2004. Vision 100 also: increases oversight of security at foreign
repair stations; requires a thorough review of the proposed CAPPS II program to
ensure civil liberties and privacy concerns are adequately addressed; modifies
background check requirements for foreign flight students; modifies provisions for
flight and cabin crew security training; requires justification for establishing special
flight areas around major cities; requires the development and implementation of a
security plan for general aviation flight at Washington Reagan National Airport; and
allows pilots of all-cargo aircraft and other members of the flight crew, such as flight
engineers, to be trained to carry firearms to defend the flight deck.

Ongoing issues for Congress include several new measures designed to enhance
aviation security. The Air Cargo Security Act (S. 165), passed by the Senate on May
8, 2003, focuses on improvements to security of cargo transported on passenger
airplanes as well as all-cargo operations. Similar legislation has been introduced in
the House (H.R. 1103; H.R. 2455). Besides air cargo security, other key aviation
security issues include: privacy issues regarding the new computer-aided passenger
pre-screening system (CAPPS II) being developed, improving access to secure airport
areas; protecting airliners from shoulder-fired missiles; and security of general
aviation operations. Additionally, the security screening opt-out provision of ATSA,
which allows airports, with TSA approval, to use private security screeners instead
of federal screeners starting in November 2004, is likely to receive considerable
attention this year as TSA develops its implementation plan for this program and
airports weigh the costs and benefits of adopting a system of private security
Funding for Aviation Security Programs
Budget and Appropriations. ATSA authorizes the appropriation of such
sums as may be necessary to administer aviation security programs through FY2005.
In FY2002, during its first operational year, TSA expenditures, including funds
transferred from FAA to TSA and supplemental appropriations, totaled $5.8 billion,
of which an estimated $5.17 billion were expended on aviation security. For
FY2003, TSA was appropriated $5.18 billion, of which about $4.52 billion was
allocated for aviation security functions. Of the FY2003 aviation security
appropriations, about $3.27 billion was designated for airport screening activities,
and about $1.47 billion was designated for airport support and enforcement presence.
In FY2004, the Department of Homeland Security appropriations (P.L. 108-90)
designated $3.73 billion for aviation security plus authorization to use $95 million
in unexpended prior year funds. In addition to these funds, the Federal Air Marshal
Service, formerly included in the TSA appropriations, received its own separate
appropriation of $626 million. A summary of TSA appropriations for aviation
security functions for FY2002, FY2003, and FY2004 is presented in Table 1. A
detailed summary of appropriations for aviation security functions in FY2004 is
presented in Table 2.

Table 1. Aviation Security Appropriations ($ Million)
F unction F Y 2002 F Y 2003 F Y 2004
Passenger Screening2,2971,8721,806
Baggage Screening1,9301,4071,319
Cargo Screening20*
Airport Support and Law Enforcement Presence1,469*
Security Direction and Enforcement944703
In-Line EDS235*
Use of prior year balance-95
Total (Aviation Security)5,1725,0023,733
Federal Air Marshal Service****626
* Included in Security Direction and Enforcement.
** Included in Security Direction and Enforcement in FY2002 and Airport Support
and Law Enforcement Presence in FY2003
Note: Column totals do not sum exactly due to rounding.
Table 2. Funding for Aviation Security Functions, FY2004
FunctionFY2004 ($)
Passenger screening: 1,805,700,000
Screening pilots$119,000,000
Passenger screeners1,319,600,000
Passenger screeners – training and other114,100,000
Human resources services151,000,000
Checkpoint support62,000,000
CAPPS II 35,000,000
Registered traveler5,000,000
Baggage screening:1,318,700,000
Baggage screeners774,200,000
Baggage screeners – training and other69,500,000
EDS Purchase 150,000,000
EDS Installation 250,000,000
EDS/ETD maintenance 75,000,000
Security direction and enforcement: 703,300,000
Aviation regulation and other enforcement275,400,000
Airport management and staff 233,800,000
Airport information technology and other support139,100,000
Federal flight deck officer program 25,000,000
Air cargo30,000,000
Subtotal, aviation security 3,827,700,000
Use of prior year balances -95,000,000
Total, Aviation Security 3,732,700,000
Source: H.Rept. 108-280

The TSA is requesting slightly more than $5.3 billion for FY2005, an $891
million increase over FY2004 appropriations. Whereas the appropriations language
in prior fiscal years subdivided costs for aviation security and security in other
modes, these functions are intermingled in the FY2005 budget request. Historically,
aviation security has comprised about 95% of the total TSA budget. Requested
funding levels for each transportation security function is provided in Table 3.
Table 3. TSA Budget Request for FY2005
Function Requested
Aviation Screening Operations:4,843,076,000
Screener Workforce (Passenger and Baggage Screeners)2,424,000,000
EDS/ETD Purchase and Installation (Discretionary)150,000,000
EDS/ETD Purchase and Installation (Mandatory)250,000,000
Checkpoint Support86,060,000
Screener Technology Maintenance/Utilities205,000,000
CAPPS II60,000,000
Applied Research and Development49,000,000
Next Generation EDS50,000,000
Information Technology Core294,770,000
Mission Support Applications80,700,000
Screeners - Other Operating Requirementsa199,274,000
Screener Training145,000,000
Human Resources150,000,000
Airport Management and Staff284,000,000
Airport Rent and Furniture100,000,000
Airport Parking and Transit Benefits15,890,000
Headquarters Support291,382,000
Corporate Training8,000,000
Aviation Security Regulation and Enforcement:337,000,000
Aviation Cargo Security30,000,000
Air Cargo Research and Development55,000,000
Aviation Regulations, Inspections, and Enforcement120,000,000
Canine Units17,000,000
State and Local Law Enforcement Reimbursements90,000,000
Federal Flight Deck Officer Program25,000,000
Transportation Security Enterprise:146,600,000
Enterprise security staffing and operations38,000,000

Function Requested
Transportation Security Coordination Center17,000,000
Registered Traveler Program15,000,000
Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC)50,000,000
Alien Pilot Security Assessment Program4,600,000
HAZMAT Driver License Endorsement Program17,000,000
Credentialing Enterprise Startup5,000,000
Total TSA:5,326,676,000
Federal Air Marshals Service612,900,000
Sources: TSA, Office of Management and Budget.
a. Includes travel, uniform allowance, hazardous materials disposal, and consumable
Offsetting the Cost of Aviation Security. Costs for aviation security are
partially offset by the collection of aviation security fees from passengers and
airlines. ATSA includes provisions for a security service fee imposed on passengers
not to exceed the lesser of $2.50 per trip leg or $5.00 per one-way trip to fund
aviation security programs. In addition, ATSA contains provisions for collection of
fees from air carriers for aviation security to supplement funding for aviation
security. Through FY2004, the sum of aviation security fees paid by a carrier may
not exceed the amount that carrier paid in calendar year 2000 for screening
passengers and property. From FY2005 on, the per-carrier limit on fees can be
adjusted based on market share or other appropriate measure in lieu of actual
screening costs paid in calendar year 2000.
An ongoing challenge for funding aviation security has been the financial
difficulties faced by the aviation industry. Financial troubles for the airlines have had
a significant impact on aviation security fee collections and has also resulted in the
passage of legislation providing large financial bailouts to the airlines . Immediately
after September 11, 2001, Congress passed the Air Transportation Safety and System
Stabilization Act (P.L. 107-42, 115 Stat. 230) on September 22, 2001, which
provided $5 billion in emergency assistance to compensate air carriers for direct and
incremental losses stemming from the terrorist attacks.1 The Emergency Wartime
Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L. 108-11, 117 Stat. 559), enacted on April 16,

2003, provided almost $2.3 billion dollars in additional assistance to air carriers,

paid in proportion to the share of the air carrier and passenger security fees each air
carrier had remitted to TSA. Additionally, P. L. 108-11 also contained a provision
that temporarily halted the collection of air carrier and passenger security fees from
June 1 through September 20, 2003. Passenger security fee collections resumed at
the beginning of FY2004, and although there appears to now be some modest
recovery in airline travel, funding for aviation security programs remains an ongoing
challenge for Congress. Slightly more than $2 billion is expected to be received

1 U.S. General Accounting Office. Aviation Assistance: Information on Payments Made
Under the Disaster Relief and Insurance Reimbursement Programs. GAO-03-1156R.

through aviation security fee collections this fiscal year, which offsets only about
54% of the current federal cost for aviation security. The administration expects
revenue from aviation security fees to increase to $2.58 billion in FY2005, however
the TSA budget request for FY2005 would increase total TSA spending by $891
million as compared to FY2004 appropriations. In FY2005, the TSA also expects
fee collections for the TWIC program and background checks of foreign flight
students to fully support the costs of these programs. The TSA obtained fee authority
for conducting background checks of foreign flight students in Vision 100 (P.L. 108-
176), and is seeking fee authority for credentialing transportation workers under the
TWIC program.
Besides the fiscal challenge of funding aviation security operations, the impact
of funding aviation security improvements at airports with Airport Improvement
Program (AIP) funds is a significant issue. Several airports, especially many of the
large hub airports, have been utilizing AIP funds to pay for installing explosive
detection systems (EDS) in baggage handling areas and retrofitting baggage
conveyers to accommodate EDS equipment in addition to other security-related
projects. The use of AIP funds for security projects has a direct impact on many
airport projects to improve capacity and safety. The Consolidated Appropriations
Resolution (P.L. 108-7, 117 Stat. 11) contained a provision allowing the TSA to issue
letters of intent to commit future funding for such aviation security projects. The
federal share of costs for airport security projects defined with regard to these letters
of intent was set at 75% for large and medium hub airports, and at 90% for all other
airports. Vision 100 (P.L. 108-176) established a separate Aviation Security Capital
Fund to finance projects to integrate explosive detection equipment into airport
baggage handling systems. The law authorizes up to $500 million per year over the
next 4 years for the fund. The first $250 million per year is to be collected from
aviation security fees and comprises a mandatory funding level for the fund. Vision

100 (P.L. 108-176) also increased the federal share of costs for these projects to 90%

at large and medium hubs, and 95% at other airports. While Vision 100 authorizes
up to $500 million per year through FY2007, FY2004 appropriations for EDS
installation totaled only half of that, $250 million. It has been estimated that the total
system-wide cost to integrate EDS equipment at airports could exceed $2.3 billion
depending on the nature and type of structural changes needed.2
Transitioning TSA to the Department of Homeland Security
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 specifies the structure of the newly formed
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and places TSA within DHS under the
Directorate of Border and Transportation Security along with the U.S. Customs
Service; the Federal Protective Service; the Federal Law Enforcement Training
Center; and the Office for Domestic Preparedness (formerly part of the Office of
Justice Programs). One key challenge for the DHS and TSA as a component of

2 Statement of the Honorable Kenneth M. Mead, Inspector General, U.S. Department of
Transportation. Key Issues Concerning Implementation of the Aviation and Transportation
Security Act. Before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, United
States Senate. February 5, 2002

DHS, will be the ability of the organization to establish policies, procedures, and
tools for effectively sharing critical information regarding national security threats
and coordinating resources to rapidly respond to threats to aviation security.
While DHS officially went into full operational status and TSA migrated its
operations to the Department of Homeland Security in March 2003, the next few
years will be a critical phase for fully defining the organization, mission, and culture
of DHS as a whole and TSA as a functional entity within DHS. This transitional
period will likely spur continued congressional oversight to ensure that TSA is able
to fully establish and maintain its capability to effectively carry out the civil aviation
security programs established under ATSA and the Homeland Security Act of 2002.
Although TSA will remain intact in its current organizational structure as an element
of DHS for the first two years, under provisions of the Homeland Security Act of
2002, TSA may be restructured after that period. November 2004 will be a critical
time for TSA because not only will restructuring be an option, but also, under a
provision in ATSA, airports will be able to opt out of the federal security screener
program and adopt a security screening program comprised of private screeners.
While TSA has remained as a distinct entity, the Federal Air Marshal Service
(FAMS) was moved out of the TSA by DHS and placed in the Bureau of
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in December 2003. This move allows
DHS to train additional law enforcement officers serving as immigration and customs
officers as federal air marshals, thus increasing their ability to deploy additional air
marshals during periods of heightened security concerns for civil aviation. This is
also expected to increase career opportunities for air marshals as well as immigration
and customs officers who are expected to have a wider array of training and
assignment opportunities within the bureau.
The Aviation Security Technical Corrections and Improvements Act of 2003
(H.R. 2144), introduced on May 19, 2003, proposes technical corrections to Title 49
of the U.S. Code to align aviation security functions carried out by TSA with the
operations of the DHS and officially designates the head of TSA, formerly known as
the Undersecretary of Transportation for Security, as the Administrator of the
Transportation Security Administration. Within DHS, the TSA Administrator reports
to the Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security.
Airport Security
A primary focus of the TSA in its first two years of operation was the
deployment of federal passenger and baggage screeners and equipment to meet the
mandates for a federal airport security screeners and screening of all checked baggage
using explosive detection equipment. These elements, along with risk-based
assessments of passengers, are considered the first layer of security in a multi-layered
system intended to protect passenger airlines from explosives, hijackings, sabotage,
and other acts of terrorism.
Passenger Pre-screening. Since 1996, the Computer Aided Passenger
Pre-screening (CAPPS) system has analyzed ticket purchasing behavior to identify
air travelers who may pose a threat. However, the TSA maintains that the methods

of identifying suspicious passengers under the existing CAPPS program has largely
been compromised by information publicly discussed following the terrorist attacks
of September 11, 2001.3 Therefore, the TSA contracted with Lockheed Martin to
develop the next-generation passenger risk assessment and pre-screening system
(CAPPS II). A key issue is what information this system will collect and analyze and
how this system will balance the requirement for security through intelligence
gathering with travelers' civil liberties and right to privacy.
As described in an August 1, 2003 Federal Register notice4, the proposed
CAPPS II system will compare basic passenger information, such as full name, home
address and telephone number, and date of birth, to information available from
commercial data providers to authenticate a passenger’s identity. Once a passenger’s
identity is verified, the passenger identification data will be compared against
government databases of terrorists and individuals who are thought to pose a threat
to civil aviation. Each passenger will be assigned a risk score that will place them
into one of three color-coded risk categories. Most passengers(about 95%) would be
color-coded green meaning that they are thought to pose a low or minimal risk and,
consequently, they will only undergo standard levels of physical screening at airport
security checkpoints. A small percentage of passengers (estimated to be about 5%)
will be coded as either yellow, meaning that they are thought to pose a potential risk
to aviation security and will be required to undergo additional secondary physical
screening at the airport checkpoint, or red, meaning that they are thought to pose a
significant threat to aviation security and will be prohibited from boarding.
According to the TSA, the estimated 5% of passengers that will be flagged as either
yellow or red under CAPPS II is expected to be a significant reduction from the 15%
of passengers that are currently identified for additional scrutiny under the existing
CAPPS passenger pre-screening system.5
Several questions remain regarding the implementation of the CAPPS II
program. These focus on the protection of privacy and civil liberties and include:
what specific data will be collected?; how will the data be used?; who will have
access to the data?; how long will data be retained in the system?; what access will
members of the public have to their personal data retained in the system?; will the
system have an acceptable error rate?; how will inaccuracies in data be resolved?;
and so on. Language in both the Homeland Security appropriations for FY2004 (P.L.
108-90) and Vision 100 (P.L. 108-176) directs the GAO to study these issues and
provide recommendations for methods to eliminate or minimize the adverse affect
of CAPPS II on privacy, discrimination, and other civil liberties. The initial GAO
report, required under P.L. 108-90, is due by February 15, 2004. As specified in the
Vision 100 (P.L. 108-176), the TSA cannot implement CAPPS II in other than a test

3 Joan M. Feldman. “Mission Creep: CAPPS II May End Up Costing Taxpayers a Lot of
Money While Only Partially Achieving its Goal of Improving Aviation Security.” Air
Transport World. May 1, 2003, p. 48-50.
4 Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration. “Privacy Act
of 1974: System of Records.” Federal Register, 68(148), pp 45265-45269. August 1, 2003.
Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration.
5 Sara Kehaulani Goo. “U.S. to Push Airlines for Passenger Records.” The Washington
Post, January 12, 2004, p. A1.

phase, until the GAO reports that these issues are adequately addressed, and during
the test phase, TSA may not use CAPPS II to delay or deny boarding of any
The TSA’s efforts to launch the test phase of CAPPS II have been delayed by
the airlines’ reluctance to voluntarily provide passenger records for testing the
system. The airlines’ reluctance stems from recent incidents in which public
criticism and legal actions resulted from airlines voluntarily providing passenger data
to government agencies. In the first instance, JetBlue Airways supplied passenger
data to an Army contractor that used the data to test a data-mining system for security
at Army bases.6 Delta Airlines was originally slated to participate in the initial test
phase for CAPPS II, but declined to provide the data after a privacy advocacy group
launched a web site urging a boycott of Delta Airlines for their role in the program.7
More recently, it was disclosed that Northwest Airlines provided passenger records
in the months following September 11, 2001, to NASA researchers who were
reportedly unsuccessful in using that data to develop a data-mining tool for security
analysis. A class-action suit has been filed against Northwest Airlines on behalf of
all passengers whose information was allegedly divulged.8 As a result of these
concerns, the implementation of CAPPS II may depend on legislative or regulatory
mechanisms to resolve the airlines legal concerns as well as the concerns raised
regarding privacy protections. Despite these setbacks, the TSA anticipates testing
CAPPS II in the spring of 2004 and implementing the system by summer 2004.9
ATSA also gives the TSA the authority to develop a known or trusted traveler
program. This program would allow passengers who voluntarily submit to
background checks and receive a unique identification card to be streamlined through
the security screening process and subjected to only a minimum amount of physical
screening. Proponents of such a plan argue that this program could help TSA focus
limited security resources on conducting more thorough checks of those passengers
who are more likely to pose a security threat, while opponents argue that terrorists
may exploit such a system to bypass more stringent security checks at airports.10
While TSA is studying the feasibility of such a plan, no specific details regarding
implementation of a known-traveler program have been released. One significant
hurdle in implementing such a program is the need for effective technologies and
procedures to positively establish the identity of known travelers. The Air Cargo
Security Act (S. 165) contains a provision that would require TSA to lead an effort
to establish guidelines for detecting false or fraudulent passenger identification.

6 Philip Shenon. “JetBlue Gave Defense Firm Files on Passengers.” The New York Times,
September 20, 2003.
7 Sara Kehaulani Goo. “TSA May Try to Force Airlines to Share Data.” The Washington
Post, September 27, 2003, p. A11.
8 Associated Press. “NASA administrator says nothing gleaned from airline passenger
data”, January 28, 2004.
9 Leslie Miller. “U.S. to Start Airline Background Checks” Associated Press Newswires,
January 27, 2004.
10 U.S. General Accounting Office. Aviation Security: Registered Traveler Program Policy
and Implementation Issues. GAO-03-253, November, 2002.

Another challenge that TSA will face in developing such a program is to establish
a protocol that can sufficiently scrutinize passenger backgrounds without being
overly burdensome or intrusive. H.R. 2144 would require the TSA to implement a
trusted traveler, registered traveler, or similar program within 1 year. TSA received
$5 million in FY2004 and has requested $15 million in FY2005 to develop and
implement a registered traveler program.
Federal Screeners. ATSA provided for federal oversight of airport security
and required that security screening personnel be federal employees. Although these
screeners are entitled to most standard federal employee benefits, such as health
benefits and participation in retirement plans, the TSA Administrator has much
greater flexibility over pay and retention of screeners as compared to federal
employees in general. A requirement under ATSA that airport screeners be U.S.
citizens was amended under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to allow U.S.11
nationals, that is, non-citizens who have a permanent allegiance to the United
States, to also be employed as airport screeners.
ATSA provided for a one-year transition to a security force staffed by federal
employees. The TSA met the November 19, 2002 deadline for deploying federal
airport screeners at all commercial airports where passenger screening is required.
On that date, there were 429 such airports, and at present, there are 432.
Under an agency order issued by the TSA in January of 2002, screeners may not
form collective bargaining units.12 However, several TSA screeners and federal
union representatives are challenging this order asserting that, as federal employees,
screeners have the right to form or join a labor organization if they so choose. It has
also been reported that the large volume of discrimination complaints received by
TSA, over 1,800 in 2003, may be indicative of inadequacies in TSA’s internal
grievance process. Several current and former screeners have alleged that the agency
has failed to adequately address allegations of discrimination against minorities and
veterans, and claims of unfair hiring and firing practices, nepotism, and management
In deploying federal screeners to meet the mandate established under ATSA, the
TSA screener workforce grew to 54,600 employees despite congressional
appropriations limits that imposed a cap of 45,000 full-time screeners (see P.L. 108-

7; P.L. 108-90). TSA has recognized that in its efforts to meet the November 19,

2002 deployment deadline for passenger screeners and the original December 31,

11 The term U.S. nationals, as defined in Title 8, Chapter 12, Section 1101(a)(22) of the U.S.
Code, refers to either a citizen of the United States, or a person who, though not a citizen
of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States. For example, most
individuals born in American Samoa are U.S. nationals by birth. U.S. nationals may serve
in the U.S. armed forces.
12 Transportation Security Administration. “TSA's Loy Determines Collective Bargaining
Conflicts with National Security Needs.” Press Release, January 9, 2003.
13 Chris Strohm. “Airport screener discrimination complaints overwhelm TSA. Government
Executive Daily Briefing, January 23, 2004.

2002 deadline for checked baggage screening, its hiring and deployment of federal
screeners was less than optimal.14 TSA is initiated a workforce realignment that
resulted in a reduction of 6,000 screeners at the end of FY 2003. The number of
screeners at each airport is being reapportioned to better reflect passenger volume at
checkpoints, and TSA offered screeners relocation bonuses of up to $5,000 to
improve staffing levels at chronically understaffed airports. Some in Congress and
many airport operators voiced concerned that the methods being used by the TSA to
realign the screener workforce may not accurately reflect the numbers of origination
passengers that pass through checkpoints at a given airport and may not address
future expansion plans and increased demand for screeners as passenger volume
increases with economic recovery. Concern has also been voiced that scheduling
practices for screeners, who primarily work straight shifts, is not well suited for
meeting daily fluctuations in passenger volume which typically experiences
significant daily and weekly peaks and lulls.
It has been the Department of Transportation’s stated goal that passengers
should not wait more than 10 minutes to pass through an airport security
checkpoint.15 An August 2003 survey by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics
found that passenger wait times averaged about 18 minutes.16 As demand for air
travel increases, maintaining reasonable queue times at security checkpoints may
pose a significant challenge to TSA, especially at larger airports with centralized
checkpoints. While the details of security inspections processes at airport
checkpoints consist of sensitive information, it has been reported that TSA screeners
are undergoing more stringent tests at security checkpoints that have revealed
screeners sometimes fail to detect hidden threat objects.17 Following September 11,
2001, more stringent criteria were established for screening checked items and more
items have been included in the list of prohibited objects that cannot be carried by
passengers or in their carry on items.
A key criterion in continuing oversight of TSA’s staffing levels, training, and
performance of its screener workforce will likely be the ability to continually provide
an expected level of service without compromising the high security standards and
threat detection objectives needed to ensure security of the aviation system and
maintain the confidence of airline passengers. Toward this goal, the TSA has
recently reinstated the use of a technology called threat image projection (TIP) to
monitor screener performance and take corrective action when screening problems
are identified. TIP, a technology originally deployed on a test basis by the FAA in

1999, overlays computer generated images of threat objects, such as guns and knifes,

on x-ray images of passenger bags. Use of the TIP technology was suspended

14 Testimony by Admiral James M. Loy, Administrator, Transportation Security
Administration before the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on
Homeland Security, May 13, 2003.
15 Remarks of Norman Y. Mineta, Secretary of Transportation, Travel and Tourism Industry
Unity Dinner, March 6, 2002, Washington, DC.
16 Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics. +++
17 Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. New airport screeners failing tougher tests, officials say. Los
Angeles Times, May 11, 2003.

immediately after September 11, 2001, but has been significantly improved upon and
recently redeployed at airport checkpoints. TIP along with covert testing of security
checkpoints are considered by TSA as primary tools in identifying and correcting
vulnerabilities at airport checkpoints including needs for training, staffing, equipment
and other resources. H.R. 2144 would require that the TSA provide Congress with
a report describing its methodology and planning for future allocations of passenger
and baggage screeners and screening equipment.
Private Security Screening. On November 19, 2004, two years after
compliance with the requirement to use federal screeners, each airport with federal
screeners can choose to leave the federal screening system and implement a system
utilizing private security screeners contingent on TSA’s approval. Several airports,
mostly small to medium sized airports, have indicated interest in the opportunity to
opt out of the federal screening program, citing four principle reasons why they may
choose to do so: 1) to increase the quality of airport screening; 2) to increase
flexibility to address local factors affecting security requirements; 3) to increase the
uniformity and consistency of security operations at the airport level; and 4) to
improve customer service.18 The TSA is currently working on developing the
implementation plan for the opt-out program and plans to reveal this plan to airports
and other stakeholders in the summer of 2004.
ATSA also provided that, beginning November 19, 2002, five airports, one from
each category of airport security risk, could volunteer for a two-year pilot program
using private screening companies whose security personnel meet the same training
requirements as the federal screeners. This pilot program was to serve as a test for the
opt-out program to examine whether private airport screening practices may be able
to offer cost savings and other benefits as compared to the federal screening force
under TSA. This pilot program has been implemented at:
!San Francisco International Airport, CA (SFO) – Category X
!Kansas City Airport, MO (MCI) – Category I
!Greater Rochester International Airport, NY (ROC) – Category II
!Tupelo Airport, MS (TUP) – Category III
! Jackson Hole Airport, WY (JAC) – Category IV
The TSA recently initiated a study of these 5 sites examining the impact of
private screening on: customer and stakeholder factors such as passenger wait times,
property claims, and complaints; comparative costs; and security effectiveness. The
results of the study will be used in the development of guidelines for the opt out
program, and preliminary study results are expected in March 2004.19
Baggage Screening. In addition to screening of passengers and their
carry-on articles, ATSA required the deployment of a sufficient number of explosive
detection systems (EDS) to screen all checked baggage placed on passenger aircraft

18 Robert W. Poole, Jr. Improving Airport Passenger Screening, Policy Study 298.
September 2002. Reason Public Policy Institute, Reason Foundation, Los Angeles CA.
19 Transportation Security Administration. Briefing on the Evaluation of Private Contractor
Screening Operations, January 2004.

by December 31, 2002. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 provides a temporary
extension of up to one year for airports unable to meet this deadline, so long as
acceptable alternate means of screening all checked baggage are implemented until
sufficient numbers of EDS machines can be installed. It has been reported that as
many as seven airports, mostly large airports such as Newark Liberty Airport (EWR),
were unable to meet the extended deadline for full EDS screening of passenger
baggage by December 31, 2003.20
One significant concern raised by experts prior to the implementation of EDS
screening of all checked baggage was the relatively high false alarm rate of current
EDS equipment and the potential impact that this may have on baggage throughput.
TSA’s procedures call for additional screening of all bags that generate EDS alarms
using means such as hand searches, canine inspections, or inspections using trace
element detection equipment. To date, the ability to efficiently screen baggage has
not been identified as a particular operational difficulty, however passenger volume
has been down due to economic conditions, the war with Iraq, and the recent SARS
outbreak. Increases in passenger volume may significantly strain the capabilities of
TSA to expediently screen checked baggage. S. 1927, introduced by Senator Clinton,
would authorize a $20 million grant program to provide awards to entities that can
develop explosive detection equipment capable of achieving false positive rates of
less than 10% and false negative rates of less than 2%. The actual performance
criteria for and performance of current generation explosive detection equipment is
considered security sensitive information.
While TSA was able to meet the original December 31, 2002 deadline for EDS
screening and the extended deadline of December 31, 2003 at all but a few airports,
many of the existing installations of EDS equipment to meet that deadline were
considered temporary and often consisted of placing EDS machines in passenger
ticketing areas and other public access areas of airport terminals. Many airport
operators need to redesign airport baggage handling systems to accommodate and
install inline EDS machines. In addition to the logistic complexities of implementing
inline EDS systems, funding for these projects remains a key issue. While ATSA
authorized the use of Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds for airport security
related projects, tapping into these funds can have a significant impact on other
airport capital improvement projects. The FAA reauthorization legislation (Vision
100, P.L. 108-176) contains a provision establishing a separate Aviation Security
Capital Fund that is authorized appropriations levels of up to $500 million per year
through FY2007 and sets the federal share for EDS installation at 90% for large and
medium hubs, and 95% ford other airports. The Homeland Security Appropriations
for FY2004 provided $250 million for EDS installation, and to date the TSA has
signed letters of intent totaling about $670 million in federal funds over the next four
fiscal years to reimburse or fund EDS installation projects at seven airports: 1)
Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport; 2) Boston–Logan International Airport; 3)
Seattle–Tacoma International Airport; 4) McCarran International Airport in Las

20 “Report: Newark airport not meeting baggage screening deadline.” Associated Press
Newswires, January 1, 2004.

Vegas; 5) Denver International Airport; 6) Los Angeles International Airport; and 7)
Ontario International Airport, Ontario, CA.21
Access to Secure Airport Areas and Airport Perimeter Security.
Under ATSA, all individuals, goods, property, vehicles and other equipment seeking
access to secure areas at an airport must be screened and inspected in a manner that
assures at least the same level of protection as screening passengers and their
baggage. Additionally, ATSA requires employment investigations and background
checks of individuals having access to aircraft and secured areas of an airport. ATSA
also requires that all vendors with direct access to the airfield and aircraft have a
security program in place. Presently, background checks serve as the principal means
of security for workers with access to air-side operations areas, airport terminal
concessions, and so on. Workers who pass these background checks are issued
identification badges that they must wear inside any security identification display
area (SIDA) to which they are authorized unescorted access.
Since the integrity of worker identification badges is a critical element of the
security procedures in place, the TSA currently has ongoing contracts to conduct
field-tests of various technologies for transportation worker identification, including
biometric markers, in an effort to develop a common and universally recognized
Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC). The TSA conducted a
technology evaluation review of the TWIC concept at 12 transportation facilities in
the Los Angeles and Philadelphia areas, and TSA is preparing to initiate a larger
scale prototype phase which is anticipated to run for a seven month period during
FY2004. The goal of these efforts is to be poised to initiate full implementation of
the TWIC program in FY2005 if a determination is made that the program is to be
continued. The TSA envisions that the TWIC program will be capable of providing
a means for validating worker identification thereby establishing better access
controls for SIDAs and other access-controlled areas of the transportation system.
TSA received $50 million for the TWIC program in FY2004 and has submitted a
budget request for an additional $50 million in FY2005. In FY2005, TSA is seeking
the authority to collect fees for credentialing transportation workers in order to offset
the costs of the TWIC program.
Despite these efforts to develop a universal identification and process for
credentialing transportation workers, there has been growing concern regarding the
adequacy of procedures in place at airports to assure that threat items cannot pass into
secured areas of airports and passenger airliners. Identification checks are sometimes
used in lieu of physical screening for about 600,000 airport workers who access
secured areas of airports each day. Rep. DeFazio has expressed concern over this
practice, noting that this lack of checkpoint screening of airport workers creates
vulnerabilities in which workers, or individuals with counterfeit or stolen worker
identification, could pass threat objects into secured airport areas or travel on aircraft

21 Statement of Admiral James M. Loy, Administrator, Transportation Security
Administration. On Transportation Security Before the Committee on Transportation and
Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, United States House of Representatives. October

16, 2003.

without security screening by using electronic tickets.22 TSA and airport operators
have voiced concerns that full checkpoint screening of airport workers would be very
time consuming and would significantly impact limited security screening resources
and TSA’s ability to process airline passengers through screening checkpoints.23
Congress may examine whether current procedures for checking the background and
identification of airport workers meets the intent of ATSA with regard to providing
at least the same level of protection of secured airport areas and passenger aircraft as
screening passengers and their baggage.
In-Flight Security Aboard Passenger Airliners
In-flight security measures are viewed as additional layers in protecting against
hijackings and other potential security threats posed by unruly and disruptive
passengers and individuals who board aircraft with terrorist or criminal intentions.
The principal element of in-flight security is the federal air marshal program that was
significantly expanded under the provisions of ATSA. Other in-flight measures
include the hardening of cockpits doors, the training and arming of pilots who
volunteer to be Federal Flight Deck Officers, and the training of flight attendants to
handle security threats in the aircraft cabin. Experts have cautioned that with
improved airport and in-flight security to prevent hijackings and bombings of
passenger aircraft, terrorists may resort to other means of attacking aviation assets.
One particular threat addressed in proposed legislation and discussed later in this
section is the threat posed by of shoulder-fired missiles that could be used to attack
passenger aircraft.
Federal Air Marshals. The Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) was greatly
expanded under ATSA and organizationally placed in the new TSA. The TSA was
given broad powers to deploy appropriately trained and equipped federal air marshals
on every scheduled passenger flight. Marshals must be deployed on every "high risk"
flight, which may include non-stop, long-distance flights, such as those targeted on
September 11, 2001, even if the flight is fully booked.
In order to quickly expand the air marshal program after September 11, 2001,
the FAA and, subsequently, the TSA abbreviated the training for air marshals,
reducing the initial training course from a 14 week course to a 5 week course for
candidates without law enforcement experience and a 1 week course for those with
law enforcement experience. Air marshals hired under this abbreviated training
program must complete an additional 4 week advanced training program that
includes emergency evacuation and flight simulator training. Additionally, the
advanced marksmanship requirement was dropped, but air marshal candidates were
still required to pass the pistol range test at the highest level required for any federal
law enforcement agency. Also, air marshals were provisionally hired with expedited
secret clearances until full investigations for their required top secret clearances could
be conducted. While a backlog of security investigations delayed issuance of top

22 National Public Radio. “Some Members of Congress Raising Concerns about Potential
Security Lapses at Airports.”, Morning Edition, May 22, 2003.
23 Technical corrections bill passes out of subcommittee. Aviation Daily, Vol 352, No. 35,
p. 3, May 19, 2003.

secret clearances for many air marshals, as of November 2003, the GAO reported that
only about 3 percent of all air marshals were still awaiting their top secret
clearances.24 By July 2002, the administration’s deadline for fully deploying federal
air marshals, thousands of air marshals had been trained and deployed. Information
on the exact number of federal air marshals is classified, as is specific information
on air marshal training programs and operational aspects of FAMS. In the two year
period following September 11, 2001, air marshals responded to over 2,000 aviation
security incidents, used non-lethal force 16 times, discharged their weapons on three
occasions25, and were involved in 28 arrests or detainments of individuals.26
In FY2003, $545 million was appropriated for FAMS. In FY2004, FAMS
received $626 million, including $10 million for scheduling and information
technology, and $10 million for development and deployment of an air-to-ground
communications system. The effectiveness of the scheduling system is seen as an
important issue, because even though FAMS has migrated to an automated
scheduling system, that system lacks the tools to adequately monitor and control
scheduling to prevent fatigue among air marshals.27 Similarly, air-to-ground
communication capabilities are seen as a vital tool for air marshals to coordinate with
ground-based law enforcement, and other homeland security and defense assets
during in-flight situations.
Under provisions in ATSA, airlines are required to provide seating for on-duty
air marshals at no cost to the U.S. government or to the marshal. Additionally,
airlines must provide transportation on a space available basis to off-duty air
marshals traveling to an airport nearest the marshal's home upon completing his or
her security duties at no cost to the marshal or to the U.S. government. Air marshals
receive law enforcement availability pay (LEAP) equal to 25% of their base pay as
entitled to under ATSA, and in return are expected to work, on average, 50 hour
workweeks. Federal air marshals, like most other federal law enforcement officers,
face mandatory retirement at age 57 or upon completion of 20 years of service.28
Consequently, DHS policy specifies that individuals over the age of 37 cannot be
hired as federal air marshals, unless they have previously served in a qualifying
federal law enforcement position. Attrition rates among air marshals has been
relatively high, about 10 percent. The GAO reported that while the service is
working to correct issues identified as reasons why former air marshals left the

24 U.S. General Accounting Office. Federal Air Marshal Service is Addressing Challenges
of Its Expanded Mission and Workforce, but Additional Actions Needed. GAO-04-242.
November, 2003.
25 The report does not specify the details of these events or indicate whether any of these
events were accidental discharges.
26 U.S. General Accounting Office. Federal Air Marshal Service is Addressing Challenges.
27 Ibid.
28 See Title 5, U.S. Code, §8335.

program, separation records don’t provide sufficient detail regarding potential
In December 2003, FAMS was moved by DHS into the U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE). According to the DHS, this repositioning of FAMS
provides air marshals with access to broader training opportunities, additional access
to intelligence, and improved law enforcement coordination. In addition to providing
air marshals with opportunities to rotate into land-based assignment, the DHS also
intends to train additional law enforcement officers serving as immigration and
customs officers as federal air marshals, thus increasing their ability to deploy
additional air marshals during periods of heightened security concerns for civil
In December 2003, the DHS also announced that it would require foreign air
carriers to carry armed air marshals on flights to and from the United States.
Typically, foreign countries would provide their own armed air marshals, however
DHS has indicated that it would assign U.S. air marshals on foreign flights if
requested to do so by the foreign country and airline. Many foreign airlines have
objected indicating that they would rather cancel flights to the U.S. when significant
threats were identified in lieu of carrying armed air marshals. Objections by foreign
countries reflect their policy concerns over introducing weapons in the aviation
environment as well as concerns over costs. Some countries, such as Israel and
Germany, were reported to already be using air marshals, while other countries such
as Great Britain and the Netherlands have agreed to place air marshals on their
aircraft despite opposition from groups representing airline pilots in those nations.
Flight Deck Intrusion and Penetration Resistance. Provisions in
ATSA prohibit access to the flight deck of passenger aircraft except by authorized
persons. ATSA also requires that flight deck doors and locks be strengthened, and
that doors remain locked while the aircraft is in flight, except when necessary to
permit access and egress by authorized persons. The FAA required interim
modifications to flight deck doors and provided temporary regulatory relief from
certain airworthiness standards to quickly improve the intrusion resistance of the
flight deck. These measures principally consisted of door modifications for internal
locking devices that can only be unlocked from inside the flight deck.
On January 15, 2002, the FAA published a final rule30 establishing new
standards for the design of flight deck doors and access doors for crew rest areas to
protect airline flight crews from intrusion and penetration by small arms fire or
fragmentation devices, such as grenades. The FAA reported that full deployment of
hardened cockpit doors meeting these specifications on about 10,000 U.S. passenger
airliners and foreign aircraft flying to and from the United States has been
implemented, and in all but a few special instances, the doors were in place by the

29 Ibid.
30 Federal Aviation Administration. Security Considerations in the Design of the Flightdeck
on Transport Category Airplanes; Final Rule. Federal Register, 67(10), 2118-2128.
January 15, 2002.

April 9, 2003 deadline. However, a significant concern raised by air carriers was the
cost of fitting the passenger air carrier fleet with hardened cockpit doors. While
FAA’s original estimate placed the cost of installing the doors at about $13,000 per
aircraft, the airlines have reported that door installations typically have cost between
$30,000 and $50,000 per aircraft depending on the size and composition of their
fleet.31 Congress initially appropriated $100 million dollars to the FAA to be
disbursed to air carriers as reimbursement for cockpit door installations in P.L. 108-7
and recently appropriated an additional $100 million for this purpose in the
Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act (P. L. 108-11) as part of the
larger package to compensate airlines for security related costs.
Language in the Consolidated Appropriations Resolution for FY2003 ( P. L.
108-7, Title I, Sec. 355), limited FY2003 funds for hardening cockpit doors to
passenger aircraft. While the FAA's implementation plan originally called for
hardening cockpit doors on all-cargo aircraft equipped with cockpit doors as well,
FAA has since rescinded this requirement for all-cargo aircraft and limited the
requirement to passenger aircraft with 20 or more seats. Although no efforts have
been made to further pursue this issue specifically, general concern over security of
all-cargo aircraft has been expressed. While three bills (S. 165; H.R. 1103; and H.R.
2455) seek to expand the provisions of ATSA regarding air-cargo security, none
contain a provision for the installation or strengthening of flight deck doors on all-
cargo aircraft.
ATSA also permits the FAA Administrator to develop and implement use of
video monitors or other devices to alert pilots to cabin activity; directs the FAA to
revise procedures used by cabin crew to notify the flight deck of security breaches
and other emergencies using switches or other devices or methods; and directs the
FAA to ensure that aircraft transponders that report aircraft position and altitude
information cannot be turned off in-flight. Additionally, the Homeland Security Act
of 2002 (P.L. 107-296) requires air carriers to provide flight attendants with methods
for discreet, hands-free, wireless communications with the pilots. While the FAA
continues to examine feasible technologies and operational procedures for
monitoring and communications between the cockpit and cabin, FAA’s progress on
these initiatives is a potential oversight issue for Congress.
Armed Pilots. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296) contains
provisions to arm pilots of passenger aircraft and gives deputized pilots the authority
to use force, including lethal force, to defend the flight deck against criminal and
terrorist threats. The Act specifies that by February 2003, TSA was to begin
administering the training and deputizing of qualified pilots volunteering to
participate in the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) Program. In response to this
requirement, TSA developed a prototype program that trained and deputized an
initial class of 44 pilots in mid-April, 2003 at a cost of $500,000. The TSA was
appropriated $8 million (see P.L. 108-7) for the program in fiscal year 2003, and
received $25 million (see P.L. 108-90) to continue the training and deputizing of
pilots in fiscal year 2004.

31 U.S. and Foreign Airlines Have Met the U.S. Government’s Apr. 9 Deadline for Installing
Reinforced Cockpit Doors. Aviation Week & Space Technology, 158(15), p. 18.

TSA began full implementation of the program in July, 2003, and has been
conducting weekly classes consisting of 48 pilots each. In January, 2004, the TSA
doubled the class-size for training Federal Flight Deck Officer candidates. TSA
expects that in fiscal years 2003-2004, it will be able to complete initial training of
a few thousand pilots. While training was initially being conducted at Federal Law
Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) facilities in Glynco, GA and Artesia, NM, all
training operations under the FFDO program have now moved to the Artesia, NM
facility. Pilots can apply for the program online, but must undergo extensive
background checks before being selected to participate. Pilot groups estimate that,
in total, about 30,000 pilots may sign up, although interest to date has been reported
to be much lower. Pilot organizations have accused the TSA of establishing an
overly burdensome application and evaluation process and locating the initial training
facility in a hard to reach location, which, they argue, has discouraged some pilots
from participating. TSA has countered that the background checks are necessary and
are equivalent to what federal law enforcement officers must undergo. The TSA has
also defended their selection of the single training site based on the availability of
specialized facilities such as aircraft cabin mock-ups at the Artesia, NM site, and
heavy demand for facilities at the Glynco site by other agencies.
Under TSA’s implementation plan, pilots must complete recurrent training and
requalification every six months to stay in the program. TSA is pursuing the option
of using private contract training sites for this recurrent training. P. L. 107-296
specifies that all training, supervision, and equipment needed for the program will be
provided at no expense to the pilots or the air carriers, however, pilots will not be
entitled to any compensation for participating in the program. ATSA also provides
liability protection to pilots and the air carriers for use of or failure to use a firearm.
ATSA initially limited participation in the program to pilots of passenger
aircraft. However, a provision in the FAA reauthorization legislation (Vision 100,
P.L. 108-176) has expanded the program to include pilots of all-cargo aircraft as well
as other flight crew members, such as flight engineers, in the program (see CRS
Report RL31674).
ATSA also directed the National Institute of Justice to assess the suitability of
arming pilots with less-than-lethal weapons, such as stun guns. Based on the
findings of this study, the TSA may authorize the use of such weapons for flight deck
crew. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296) specified that the TSA
must respond within 90 days of receiving a request from an air carrier to arm flight
crew with less than lethal weapons. While several airlines have submitted proposals
to arm flight crew with tasers and stun guns, TSA has not yet made a final
determination regarding the utility and legal ramifications of arming pilots with less
than lethal weapons.32
Security Training for Flight and Cabin Crews. Under ATSA, the TSA
was directed to develop a mandatory air carrier training program to assist flight crews
and flight attendants in dealing with hijack situations. The Homeland Security Act

32 Sara Kehaulani Goo. “U.S. Nears Decision on Guns in Cockpits: Agency Still Studying
Stun Weapons”, The Washington Post, May 29, 2003, p. E4.

of 2002 expanded these training requirements to include classroom and hands-on
situational training for flight and cabin crews covering various aspects of in-flight
security including: recognition of suspicious activity; deterring, subduing and
restraining individuals; self-defense; crew communication and coordination; and the
psychology of terrorists. Additionally, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 directs
the TSA to conduct a study assessing the benefits and risks of arming flight
attendants with nonlethal weapons. Language in the FAA reauthorization legislation
(Vision 100, P.L. 108-176) establishes a mandatory TSA-approved basic security
course for flight and cabin crew as well as a voluntary advanced course in self-
defense training for flight and cabin crew. While flight and cabin crew would not
have to pay a fee for the optional advanced self-defense training program, they would
not be entitled to compensation for participating.
Protecting Aircraft from Shoulder-Fired Missiles. Recent events have
increased attention on the threat that shoulder-launched missiles may pose to
commercial airliners. On November 6, 2002, three men with links to Al Qaeda
reportedly tried to buy shoulder-launched missiles from FBI agents in Hong Kong,
and on November 28, 2002, terrorists fired two shoulder-launched missiles at an33
Israeli airliner departing Mombasa, Kenya. In August 2003, a sting operation
carried out by the FBI with cooperation from British and Russian authorities nabbed
an alleged arms dealer in New Jersey for attempting to orchestrate a deal to smuggle
shoulder-fired missiles into the United States. On November 22, 2003, an all-cargo
Airbus A300 operated by DHL was hit by a shoulder-fired missile while departing
Baghdad International Airport in Iraq, but was able to return to the airport and make
an emergency landing despite substantial damage.
Most experts believe that no single technology or mitigation strategy can
completely eliminate the threat of shoulder-fired missiles, however, a variety of
options may be considered. These options include both aircraft-based and ground-
based missile defense systems, either of which would be costly to implement on a
large scale and could take several years to adequately deploy. Other options that may
be considered, both in the short term and as part of a longer term strategy to mitigate
the risk of shoulder-fired missiles, include: changes in air traffic control procedures;
specific flight crew training; and improved security and surveillance near airports and
heavily used flight paths (See CRS Report RL31741).
On February 5, 2003, Rep. Steve Israel and Sen. Barbara Boxer introduced
legislation (H.R. 580, S. 311) calling for the installation of missile defense systems
in all turbojet aircraft used in scheduled air carrier service and, in the interim,
deploying National Guard and Coast Guard units to patrol areas surrounding airports.
On March 20, 2003, the House Aviation Subcommittee held a closed hearing on the
threat of shoulder-launched missiles to civilian aircraft, after which Chairman John
Mica indicated that based on testimony presented at the hearing, options for

33 Kelly Thorton. “Bail Is Denied 3 Accused of Terror Plot; Plan Said to Involve Drugs,
Missile Deal.” The San Diego Union-Tribune, March 13, 2003; Robin Hughes. “SAM
Attack on Jet Reignites Old Fears.” Jane’s Defence Weekly, December 2, 2002.

protecting airliners against this threat would be pursued.34 The conference report
(Conf. Rpt. 108-76) accompanying the Emergency Wartime Supplemental
Appropriations Act (P.L. 108-11) directed the DHS Under Secretary for Science and
Technology to prepare a program plan, including cost and schedule, for developing
an anti-missile device for commercial aircraft. In response the DHS released plans
for a 2-year, $120 million program to install, test, and certify two prototype aircraft-
mounted missile countermeasure systems that will leverage existing military
countermeasure technology.35 The Homeland Security Appropriations for FY2004
(P.L. 108-90) provided $60 million for the DHS anti-missile prototype development
and testing program. The DHS recently awarded three initial contracts of $2 million
each under this funding to develop a detail concept and test plan for a prototype
system for further evaluation. The award recipients are Northrop Grumman, BAE
Systems, and United Airlines. The DHS has requested an additional $61 million to
continue the prototype development and testing program in FY2005.
Air Cargo Security
ATSA contains general provisions for the screening of cargo on passenger
aircraft, but does not specify how this objective is to be achieved. At present,
security of cargo carried aboard passenger aircraft primarily relies on so-called
known shipper programs to detect and prevent the shipment of cargo from unknown
sources aboard passenger aircraft. On January 15, 2003, Senators Hutchison and
Feinstein introduced legislation (S. 165) that would mandate random inspections at
air cargo and shipping facilities to ensure compliance with security requirements;
improve the known shipper program and database; conduct background checks of
workers with access to all-cargo aircraft; implement security training programs for
cargo handlers; and establish security measures for all-cargo operations and
inspections areas including screening of flight crews and persons transported aboard
all-cargo aircraft. S. 165 was passed by the Senate on May 8, 2003. Similar
legislation (H.R. 1103) was introduced in the House by Rep. Adam Schiff on March

6, 2003.

Expansion of the known shipper program and risk-based assessments and
screening of cargo shipments is consistent with the TSA’s approach to air cargo
security. TSA’s objectives are to fully deploy a system-wide known shipper
database, increase oversight and enforcement of the ban on placing shipments from
unknown sources aboard passenger aircraft, and ensuring100% inspection of all high
risk cargo.
Security of Cargo Carried in Passenger Aircraft. ATSA contains
general provisions requiring the screening of all mail and cargo carried aboard

34 Federal News Service. “News Conference with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA); Senator
Charles Schumer (D-NY); Representative Steve Israel (D-NY); Representative John Mica
(R-FL), Topic: Funding for Anti-missile Technology on All American Airliners.” April 2,

2003, Washington, DC.

35 Undersecretary for Science and Technology, Department of Homeland Security.
“Program Plan for the Development of an Antimissile Device for Commercial Aircraft.”
May 22, 2003. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

passenger aircraft. The TSA has determined that currently available technologies do
not offer a viable means for physically screening all cargo carried aboard passenger
aircraft in a manner that would be economically feasible and would meet airline
schedule demands.36 Therefore, at present, the principal means of screening cargo
placed aboard passenger aircraft is through reliance on known shipper programs.
Developed by the FAA in the mid-1990s, known shipper programs consist of
established procedures identified in air carrier and freight forwarder security
programs to ensure that shipments placed aboard passenger aircraft are received from
known sources who have an established business history of shipping with a given air
carrier or freight forwarder and have adequate security measures in place to protect
the integrity of their shipments. Under existing regulations, air carriers and freight
forwarders must refuse to ship cargo from unknown sources on passenger airplanes,
and shippers must consent to inspections of cargo. S. 165 and H.R. 1103 seek to
expand the known shipper program through a voluntary industry-wide pilot program
that would establish a common database of known shippers. The TSA received $30
million in FY2004 and has requested an additional $30 million in FY2005 to develop
and deploy a system-wide known shipper database and field canine teams to inspect
high risk cargo for explosives. At these funding levels, TSA will be able to field 100
air cargo inspectors to oversee compliance with air cargo security regulations. TSA
will also provide security training to air carriers and indirect air carriers. In addition
to the $30 million for air cargo security operations, TSA received an additional $55
million for air cargo security research and development in FY 2004, and has asked
for the same funding levels in FY 2005. Research and development efforts are
focused on developing reliable cargo screening systems that are capable of screening
large volume objects, meeting specified detection criteria, and increasing throughput.
Shipments of mail by air present additional security challenges. Express and
first class mail is protected from search, consequently the postal service’s principal
technique for screening mail is through postal clerk screening of customers sending
packages weighing more than one pound. Concerns over the adequacy of these
procedures led to a ban on shipping postal packages weighing more than 16 ounces
on passenger aircraft since September 11, 2001. The 1997 White House Commission
on Aviation Safety and Security, commonly referred to as the Gore Commission, had
recommended that the Postal Service should obtain authorization from customers
allowing examination of packages by EDS, and if necessary, seek appropriate
legislation to accomplish this.37 However, to date, mail is not screened by EDS and
the 16 ounce mail limit for passenger aircraft remains in effect. The TSA has
indicated that it is exploring the use of canine teams to inspect mail and allow
carriage of heavier mail packages on passenger aircraft to resume. It was recently
reported that the TSA and the Postal Service are satisfied with the ongoing canine
team pilot program at 11 U.S. airports and are training more dogs and handlers to
expand the program nationwide.38 The airline industry has been urging action that

36 Statement of Admiral James M. Loy before the Aviation Subcommittee of the Senate
Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. February 5, 2003.
37 White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. Final Report to President
Clinton. February 12, 1997.
38 World News Roundup. Aviation Week and Space Technology, 158(22), June 2, 2003.

would allow these mail shipments on passenger aircraft to resume, because the ban
has resulted in significant revenue losses for the airlines.
Blast-Resistant Cargo Container Technology. Despite existing policies
and procedures to profile cargo to be carried aboard passenger aircraft, primarily
using known shipper programs, concerns have arisen that explosives and incendiary
devices could be inserted into cargo at multiple points along the supply chain. These
concerns have focused on the fact that at present, only a small amount of cargo is
physically screened thus leading to the possibility that an explosive or incendiary
device inserted into a cargo shipment could go undetected. Experts offer differing
opinions regarding the probability of such a threat. While some point out that,
without the aid of a cohort with access to aircraft, specific flights would be difficult
to target, others caution that with increased screening of passengers and their
baggage, terrorists may view air cargo as an opportunity that provides less chance of
detection. Based on this potential threat of explosives and incendiaries in air cargo
as well as in checked baggage, ongoing research efforts are examining the feasability
and effectiveness of equipping the passenger air carrier fleet with blast-resistant
cargo containers. FAA has had a active research program in blast resistant containers
for more than 10 years examining the airworthiness, ground handling, and blast
resistance of hardened containers which is now under the auspices of the TSA’s39
Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL). These containers are seen as a potential
means for mitigating the threat of explosives placed aboard passenger aircraft that are
not detected through baggage screening or cargo profiling. However, the increased
weight of these containers would have long term operational impacts on airlines who
may experience a resulting increase in fuel costs and decreased payload capacity for
carrying revenue passengers and cargo. S. 165 contains a provision that would direct
the TSA and the FAA to submit a joint report to Congress evaluating the use of blast-
resistant cargo container technology. While H.R. 1103 does not contain such a
provision, a similar provision is offered in H.R. 2144.
All-Cargo Aircraft Security. ATSA specifies that as soon as practical a
system must be in operation to screen, inspect, or otherwise ensure the security of all
cargo that is to be transported in all-cargo aircraft. All-cargo operations are
potentially vulnerable to a variety of criminal and terrorist activities including: bombs
and incendiary devices; hazardous materials; crimes such as theft and smuggling; and
aircraft hijackings and sabotage. While most all-cargo operators have physical
security and surveillance measures in place , there is little standardization or federal
oversight of all-cargo security programs. All-cargo carriers operating aircraft
weighing more than 12,500 pounds and all-cargo airports where these aircraft operate
are required to have basic security programs in place that are vetted by the TSA.
However, TSA only has a small unit of compliance inspectors overseeing these
security programs. S. 165 and H.R. 1103 seek to enhance the security of all-cargo
operations by establishing a system for TSA to regularly inspect shipping facilities
to ensure the use of appropriate controls, systems, and procedures to ensure the
security of cargo operations. The measures would also require all-cargo operators to

39 National Research Council. Assessment of Technologies Deployed to Improve Aviation
Security, First Report. Publication NMAB-482-5. Washington, DC: National Academy
Press, 1999.

develop and implement security plans that would address: the physical security of
cargo acceptance and operations areas; background checks for employees with access
to air operations areas; training for individuals with security-related functions; and
screening of flight crews and individuals transported by all-cargo aircraft. S. 165 and
H.R. 1103 would also require security-related training for cargo handlers.
ATSA had initially excluded cargo pilots from participating in the Federal Flight
Deck Officer Program. Cargo pilots and organizations representing these pilots
voiced significant concern over their exclusion from participation in the Federal
Flight Deck Officers Program.40 These groups cautioned that large transport category
all-cargo aircraft could be vulnerable to terrorist hijackings. Since all-cargo aircraft
do not have hardened cockpit doors, federal air marshals do not travel aboard all-
cargo aircraft, and there is no screening process for individuals with access to all-
cargo aircraft comparable to that for passenger aircraft, these groups contend that
arming cargo pilots is necessary to mitigate this risk. Cargo airlines opposed this
approach, presumably because of liability concerns even though the statute pertaining
to the Federal Flight Deck Officer program extends specific liability protections to
airlines and pilot participants. A provision in Vision 100 (P.L. 108-176) expanded
the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program to include all-cargo pilots (see CRS Report
Flight School and General Aviation Security
Flight School Security. ATSA originally required that flight schools or
individuals giving flight training in an aircraft having a maximum takeoff weight of
12,500 pounds or greater to foreign aliens or other individuals specified by the TSA
must notify the Attorney General that such an individual has requested such training.
The procedures and applicability for background checks of certain flight school
applicants has changed significantly under new language included in the FAA
reauthorization act (Vision 100, P.L. 108-176). Under the new provisions, the DHS
is responsible for conducting the background checks of foreign flight school
applicants. The required waiting period before beginning training is set at 30 days
for foreign applicants seeking training in aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds.
Flight schools must furnish the DHS with names and aliases of foreign applicants,
passport and visa information, date of birth and country of citizenship, and dates of
training, so that background checks of these individuals can be conducted.
However, certain applicants, such as holders of foreign civil or military pilot licenses
with authorizations to pilot multi-engine aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds,
are eligible for expedited processing that will permit them to begin training in the
United States in 5 days or less. Flight schools must notify the DHS of foreign
applicants seeking training in aircraft weighing less than 12,500 pounds, and provide
DHS with information on that individual as required by DHS, but no waiting period
is required for such training. The legislation authorizes the DHS to collect a fee, not
to exceed $100 per foreign flight school applicant in FY2004, for the cost of

40 “Cargo Pilots Slam Cockpit Guns Change.” Airwise News, November 18, 2002; Air Line
Pilots Association, International. “ALPA President Blasts Industry for Watering Down
Cargo Security.” Air Line Pilots Association, International Press Release Number 02.101,
November 14, 2001.

conducting the background investigation. In FY2005 and thereafter, the DHS may
increase the fee to reflect the actual costs of conducting the background investigation.
In addition to background checks, the Aviation Security Advisory Committee
(ASAC) Working Group on General Aviation Airports Security, a TSA working
group made up of industry stakeholders, recently recommended that flight schools
and fixed-based operators (FBOs) implement identification checks of flight school
applicants and aircraft renters, and establish procedures to restrict access to aircraft
keys.41 Many of these organizations have already implemented such procedures,
although there are no regulatory requirements to do so.
Pilot Background Checks and Certificate Actions. In addition to
specific background checks for foreign flight school applicants, TSA may conduct
threat assessments of U.S. citizens and foreign nationals who hold or apply for FAA
pilot certificates. Citing its authority under ATSA to assess threats to transportation
security and coordinate countermeasures with other federal agencies, the TSA and
the FAA issued final rules in January 2003 that detail the procedures for notification
that a pilot or pilot applicant poses a threat to national security and denying or42
revoking FAA pilot certificates based on such a determination.
Pilot groups including the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) and the Aircraft
Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) initially expressed strong opposition to these
regulations citing concerns that they offer no viable avenue for appeal of certificate
action and allow TSA to deny pilots access to the information used in taking action
against them on grounds that this information could compromise national security.
Some in Congress have also voiced concerns over these regulations. On February 20,
2003, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young of
Alaska wrote to TSA head Admiral James Loy questioning TSA’s authority to
impose these regulations and voicing concern over the lack of a formal appeals
process similar to that established for pilot certificate actions on safety grounds that43
allows pilots to have their cases heard before the NTSB.
In response to these concerns, language was included in Vision 100 (P.L. 108-
176) that entitles any individual adversely affected by a certificate action because
they are believed to pose a threat to aviation security to a hearing before an
administrative law judge. The individual may appeal the ruling of the administrative
law judge to the Transportation Security Oversight Board which, in turn, will
establish a panel to review and either affirm, modify, or reverse the decision. The
law also provides that administrative law judges responsible for such cases will
undergo investigations to obtain clearances so that they may review classified
information relevant to such cases. The law also provides that, upon request, the
individual adversely affected, as well as the reviewing administrative law judge, can

41 Report of the Aviation Security Advisory Committee Working Group on General Aviation
Airports Security. October 1, 2003. Transportation Security Administration.
42 Federal Register, 68(16), January 24, 2003.
43 Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. “Powerful Congressman Blasts ‘Pilot Insecurity’
Rules.” AOPA Online, February 21, 2003.

obtain an unclassified summary of any classified information used in making a
determination regarding certificate action.
The FAA began issuing new pilot certificates in July 2003 that contain several
security features making them more difficult to counterfeit. The credit card style
certificates contains a hologram and graphics, but do not include a photograph of the
certificate holder. Instead, the FAA requires pilots to also carry a government-issued
photo identification such as a driver’s licence when operating an aircraft. The new
certificates are sent to newly certified pilots, pilots that upgrade their qualifications,
and pilots needing replacement certificates. However, the older style paper licences
are still valid and are still being used by a large numbers of pilots. While developing
a photo identification for pilots, mechanics, and other FAA certificate holders is still
under consideration, no formal program to do so has been announced to date.
Airport Watch Program. An ongoing concern has been the relative ease of
access to aircraft at almost 19,000 public use and private general aviation airports
throughout the country. These airports vary greatly in terms of their security risk, and
their proximity to major metropolitan areas that might be targeted in terrorist plots
involving the use of general aviation aircraft. Security measures at these airports also
vary greatly as some do not have perimeter fences, and most are not staffed
continuously. To address these concerns, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
(AOPA) in cooperation with TSA, has launched an “Airport Watch” program for
pilots to report suspicious activities to law enforcement authorities. Similar to a
community neighborhood watch program, the Airport Watch program provides
training materials including a brochure and video and a toll free hotline (1-866-GA-
SECURE) for pilots and airport operators.
One specific group that has been instructed to be particularly watchful for
suspicious activities are operators of agricultural aircraft (e.g., “crop dusters’). There
is particular concern among some law enforcement and terrorism experts that terrorist
groups may seek to use agricultural aircraft to disperse chemical or biological agents.
The National Agricultural Aircraft Association (NAAA) has produced an educational
program addressing security in aerial application operations, and has cooperated in
several industry-wide FBI background investigations since September 11, 2001.44
In addition to the airport watch program, several operators of general aviation
airports have enhanced security over the past two years by taking steps such as
installing perimeter fences and surveillance equipment, hiring security personnel, and
establishing access controls to aircraft parking and operations areas. These efforts
have been carried out primarily without federal oversight or funding.
Security of Charter Operations and Private Aircraft. For non-scheduled
passenger charter operations, the level of security required under TSA regulations is
dependent on two principle factors: 1) aircraft size; and 2) whether the aircraft
enplanes or deplanes into a sterile or secured area of a commercial passenger airport.

44 Report of the Aviation Security Advisory Committee Working Group on General Aviation
Airports Security. October 1, 2003. Transportation Security Administration.

Charter flights, as well as all-cargo operations, using aircraft weighing more
than 12,500 pounds maximum gross weight must adopt a TSA-approved twelve-five
security program. The twelve-five security program, so named because of the
applicable aircraft weight criterion, consists of passenger identification checks,
fingerprint-based criminal history records checks for flight crews, and specific bomb
and hijacking notification and inspection requirements as well as additional details
specified in each operators security program. Each operator must designate a security
coordinator within their organization, provide training and information to employees
performing security-related duties, and have procedures in place to coordinate with
law enforcement agencies to provide officers to handle security situations. Twelve-
five operators must have a TSA-approved contingency plan in place and implement
that plan when directed to do so by the TSA. While flight deck doors are not a
requirement for twelve-five operations, if an aircraft is so equipped with a cockpit
door, procedures must be in place to restrict access to the flight deck.
Passenger charter operations using either an aircraft weighing more than
100,300 pounds maximum gross weight or an aircraft with 61or more passenger seats
must implement additional security measures laid out in the TSA’s private charter
security program. Also, regardless of aircraft weight, if a passenger-carrying charter
flight enplanes from or deplanes into a sterile area (that is, beyond the security
screening checkpoints of a passenger airport), that operation must also adopt the
private charter security program. In addition to the measures required in the twelve-
five security program, the private charter security program requires that operators
screen passengers and their carry-on items and prohibits passengers from carrying
any weapons, explosives, or incendiary devices. Metal detectors and x-ray systems
used in the screening of charter passengers must meet the standards established by
the TSA. Private charter operators must establish procedures to prevent unauthorized
access to the aircraft and other access controlled areas as specified in the operators
security program, and carry out a security inspection before conducting passenger
operations any time access controls are not maintained. In addition to flight crew
members, other employees of private charter operators with unescorted access to
aircraft and secured areas must submit to fingerprint-based criminal history
background checks, and security coordinators and crew members must complete
security training on an annual basis.
While the twelve-five and private charter regulations specify security
requirements for charter and all-cargo operations, several recommendations have
been made to improve the security of general aviation operations. These operations
include corporate aircraft, fractional ownerships, privately owned aircraft and rental
aircraft, as well as certain aviation businesses such as flight schools, banner towing
operations, crop dusting, aerial traffic reporting, and so on. Various government and
industry initiatives are being developed to improve the security of such aircraft and
operations. The TSA’s ASAC Working Group on General Aviation Airports
Security has proposed several recommendations to enhance the security of general
aviation aircraft, including:
!Verifying the identity of all aircraft occupants and verifying that all
baggage and cargo is known to the occupants;
!Briefing first-time rental pilots on airport and facility security
procedures and local operations

!Establishing sign-in and sign-out procedures for all transient aircraft;
!Secure aircraft and hangars with locking mechanisms and anti-theft
devices to prevent unauthorized access to aircraft;
!Establishing reasonable vehicle access controls to airport facilities
!Using lighting to improve the security of aircraft parking areas and
hangars, fuel storage areas, and airport access point
!Developing procedures for security patrols of airport areas, and
coordinating with local law enforcement on airport security
procedures; and
!Establishing a security plan including plans for handling bomb
threats and suspect aircraft, and coordinating the security plan with
local fire and law enforcement.45
Also, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) has teamed
with the Treasury Department to develop guidelines to help aircraft sellers identify
unusual financial transactions and other suspicious customer behavior.46 The ASAC
Working Group on General Aviation Airports Security recommendations as well as
efforts such as the GAMA guidelines for aircraft sales transactions have been viewed
as proactive steps by industry stakeholders to establish what they regard as reasonable
levels of security for general aviation.47 A variety of these measures have been
implemented by general aviation airports and general aviation operators throughout
the United States, however, no uniform guidelines have been established by TSA to
The TSA has, however, implemented a pilot program for implementing security
protocols for business aviation. The program, dubbed TSAAC for TSA Access
Certificate, is currently being implemented at select airports on the east coast.
Corporate aircraft operators that implement TSA-approved security programs under
TSAAC are currently granted unimpeded access to international airspace, whereas
other operators must currently enter and depart U.S. airspace through one of eight
designated “portal” countries.48 The TSAAC program was initially offered as a pilot
program to operators based at Teterboro Airport (TEB) in New Jersey. The program
has been expanded to include operators at Westchester County Airport (HPN) in New
York, and Morristown Airport (MMU) in New Jersey. While the specifics of the
TSAAC program are considered security sensitive information, the program requires
operators to implement security procedures similar to the operational security
measures required under the twelve-five program for charter aircraft. The TSAAC
is regarded by many in the industry as being a means for business aircraft operators
to gain “...equal access to airspace and airports as currently given to scheduled air
carriers.”49 TSAAC, or a program modeled after TSAAC, is likely to form the basis

45 Ibid.
46 Ibid.
47 Robert P. Olislagers. “Advancing GA Security.” Airport Magazine, November/December

2003, pp. 26-31.

48 David Esler. “TSAAC: Business Aviation’s New Ticket to Enter?” Business &
Commercial Aviation, May 2003, pp. 200-210.
49 National Business Aircraft Association. TSA Access Certificate (TSAAC). Updated

for the security program mandated under Vision 100 (P.L. 108-176) that requires the
DHS to develop and implement a security plan that will allow general aviation
aircraft to resume operations at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport which
have been suspended since September 11, 2001. Congress may increase its oversight
of TSA’s initiatives to enhance general aviation security to ensure that security
measures are adequate and do not impose an undue burden on general aviation
Airspace Restrictions. Since September 11, 2001, the FAA, in consultation
with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, has implemented various
temporary flight restrictions to prohibit or limit flights over security sensitive
locations and events. While these restrictions typically apply to all aircraft, they
more specifically target general aviation operators who do not typically adhere to
regular and predictable flight schedules and routes.
The FAA has also implemented specific security procedures for the airspace
around Washington, DC. The Washington, D.C. airspace security measures consist
of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that requires special flight procedures
within this 30 mile radius of the city. Pilots in this area must be on an active flight
plan, use a discrete transponder code, and be in constant 2-way radio
communications with air traffic controllers who monitor flights and report deviations
from assigned flight routes to law enforcement agencies. Within 15-miles of
Washington DC, flight operations are further restricted and only those aircraft with
specific permission may enter this airspace. Currently, general aviation operations
are prohibited at Washington Reagan National Airport, while limited general aviation
operations are permitted at the three small airports located within 15-miles of
Washington, D.C. These airports, dubbed the DC-three, include: College Park
Airport, Potomac Airfield, and Hyde Field. Operations at these airfields are generally
limited to locally based aircraft that primarily consist of small single-engine
airplanes. These aircraft and their crews must undergo security checks and must
adhere to specific operational procedures in order to operate to and from these
facilities. Pilot groups and some Members of Congress have expressed concern that
restrictions on general aviation operations at Reagan National Airport and the DC-
three airports have had a significant economic impact on the operators of these
facilities and have questioned the continuing need for these security measures. The
FAA and the TSA have indicated that these measures have remained in place largely
at the request of the U.S. Secret Service and are necessary to ensure the protection
of the President and national security assets in the Washington, DC area.
Vision 100 (P.L. 108-176) requires the DHS to develop and implement a
program to resume general aviation operations at Reagan National Airport.
However, the legislation does not address the flight restrictions affecting the DC-
three airports. Vision 100 (P.L. 108-176) does, however authorize the appropriation
of $100 million to provide direct reimbursements to general aviation entities
financially impacted by restrictions imposed at Washington Reagan National Airport
and the DC-three airports, as well as other general aviation entities elsewhere directly

49 (...continued)
December 23, 2003. [http://web.nbaa.org/public/ops/security/tsaac/]

impacted by other security-related restrictions after September 11, 2001. While the
Consolidated Appropriations Resolution for FY2004 (P.L. 108-199) did not provide
specific funding for reimbursement of general aviation entities, it did include sense
of Congress language that urges the Department of Transportation to consider
programs to reimburse general aviation entities at Washington Reagan National
Airport and the DC-three airports.
At various times since September 11, 2001 when the national security threat
level has been elevated, various flight restrictions have been imposed to protect
airspace around major U.S. cities and other potential terrorist targets. For example,
during the war with Iraq in March-April, 2003, additional airspace restrictions and
security procedures were put into effect over New York City, Chicago, and Disney
theme parks. While specific security procedures around major cities have since been
rescinded, or reinstated only for brief periods at times when the national security
threat level has been elevated, the flight restrictions around Disney theme parks have
continuously remained in effect. Also, The FY2003 Consolidated Appropriations
Resolution (P.L. 108-7) contained a provision to keep existing restrictions of stadium
overflights during major sports events in full force and in effect for one year. This
provision rescinds existing waivers and exemptions to the stadium overflight rule and
permits waivers only for air traffic operational and safety reasons, direct support of
the event, broadcast coverage, event safety and security, and when necessary to fly
through restricted airspace using standard air traffic procedures to arrive or depart an
airport. The FY2004 Consolidated Appropriations Resolution (P.L. 108-199)
contains language keeping the stadium overflight restrictions in full force.
Some have raised questions about the effectiveness of airspace restrictions and
special operating procedures, noting that enforcing airspace restrictions is difficult
and defending ground based assets from aircraft penetrating restricted airspace is
even a greater challenge. Congress may continue to monitor DHS, FAA, and
Department of Defense policies and procedures regarding airspace restrictions and
enforcement of those restrictions to ascertain whether homeland security
requirements are adequately addressed though these measures, users of the national
airspace system are not unduly burdened, and flight safety is not compromised .