aaron atp
Topic Author
Posts: 517
Joined: Sun Mar 19, 2000 1:17 pm

Security Suggestions

Fri Sep 14, 2001 4:06 pm

Yes, posting here might be in vain, but as with a letter I am composing to send to the FAA regarding the communication and distribution of advisories and notams to the public (a state which was to be corrected after the Gulfstream crash in CO), I will share my thoughts with the members of this forum. Consider this my way of brainstorming for a formal letter.

First, my point-of-view is that the FAA has implemented many "knee-jerk" reactions that do little or nothing concerning a real threat. I use that adjective to describe ineffective orders, however, I feel that 99% of these implemented policies are warranted to increase the public's feeling of safety in the short term. Admittedly a few suggestions may seem repetitive or obvious, but I will state them for the purposes of establishing discussion.

The numbers are for reference, not to establish any supposed chronological order of installation or importance.

1. Federal Air Marshals must be a permanent installation in the aviation industry. After order and decorum is restored, marshals must continue to be on board at least an average of 1 out of every 4 flights for the foreseeable future.

2. Federalize airport security programs. This means security agents will be federal employees. Security will be uniform in application, although tailored to location/facilities.

3. Make all Ramp/Terminal badges uniform between all airports for airport employees. Through this I would expect to see the airport identifier displayed most prominently (more than most are now) with commonality for background colors based on parts of the field (green=complete access, red=inside the terminals only, yellow=ramp areas but not in aircraft or whatever, and so on, so forth). This establishes commonality that would allow FAA inspectors to understand to badging scheme at any airport

4. Pilot/FA/AirCrew badges Company crew badging will be a uniform color as above, aiding recognition from a distance, this means that internal company badging will be different than federal security badging. Of course the federal badge would have the company name on it, but would be only valid when accompanied by the company badge.

5. Modernize Badges Of course the system described in 3 & 4 would be state of the art proximity passes, but also with an RF interrogation (like a transponder) that would allow a person to be tracked as they pass through a security checkpoint or doorway, even where swiping the badge is not required for access or secure doors where "tailgating" might be an issue.

These badges would be subject to termination in the event the employee is fired/suspected of suspicious activities. In the event of badge termination, the card would not allow secured doors to be opened and would sound a warning if the RF interrogator detected unauthorized passage of a badge through a secure door/checkpoint.

The RF interrogation is the key to sounding alarms of caterers being in the cockpit or other unauthorized entries. As with many modern systems already implemented, the authority to open a door is not in the card, but in a computer server that checks that employees company/position and ensures they are authorized to open that door. Add the transponder-like function that works like a department store security device and you have great means of controlling access to secure areas.

Most of you are probably acquainted with the proximity badges that need only be passed within 12 inches of the cardreader instead of being swiped. These are a great time-saver, and just add that little RF transponder chip and you have the perfect badge.

These smart airport badges would be linked to an airport employee database that would allow a security guard to see your picture/info on his screen when you pass through a checkpoint, in addition to the one on your badge. [I do not feel there should be a National Drivers License Photo Registry, by the way. I am a member of the ACLU and I hold our personal freedoms dear]

6. Pilot/Mech FAA Certificates should be photo "smart cards." They should work like a "smart" credit card with a picture printed on them. This in addition to #4 will prevent fraudulent entry to the General Aviation terminals. This is long overdue in my opinion. It will allow security to be implemented at untowered airports that have not received certification for air carrier operations (this is important for GA/corporate jets). We would no longer have to worry about pilots operating with revoked certificates or unlicensed mechanics. These could work with #5 above in addition to ramp badges and internal company badges

***Privacy issues are important. I do NOT feel that these smart cards should require you to "check-in" every time you pass a 121/135 check or log night currency, just suspended/revoked certificates and your picture, along with info currently on your certificate (home address et al). I'm not sure if medical certificates should be incorporated into this, but it might be a good idea (you could get email reminders that your medical should be taken care of soon...)

7. Cameras at the gates. I understand that there are privacy issues at stake, but these would not infringe on privacy since your name is on the ticket anyway, and it should be your real name, so don't worry about it. I don't like the british street cameras, so I bring this up here.

8. Track Passports/Visas electronically This would be a major undertaking on an international scale for obvious reasons, but if you travel internationally you'll have to sacrifice a bit of privacy and be tracked. This would allow passports to be "scanned" before they are stamped, thus allowing instant background checks for non-us citizens. Fake passports would be easily recognized and visitors under investigation could be stopped at the gate if their passport has been tagged by an FBI computer.

(For some privacy, US courts would require a subpeona before checking the travel records of US citizens)

please feel free to criticize or add insights...

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RE: Security Suggestions

Sat Sep 15, 2001 1:40 am

1) overreacting. More armed guards in the terminals maybe, to back up highly increased security checks.

2) good. Have the FBI for example responsible for airport security (or a new agency) and not the airports and airlines

3) colour coding badges is a good idea but pointless without ways to enforce the plan. Having uniform badges is good only if a level of access would be valid on all airports, not just one.

4) see 3

5) see 3

You fail to address the real need for strict security checks on passengers:

a) only passengers past the initial security checkpoint
b) EVERY person past the checkpoint was checked with at least a metal detector and his belongings with an XRay machine (or similar if different but more reliable technologies are created in the future).
c) second security check like the first just before boarding the aircraft. This to ensure no passenger has slipped a sharp implement into his belongings in an airside restaurant
d) no sharp implements of any kind past the initial checkpoint. This includes not only knifes of ANY size, but also pens and pencils, except greasemarkers (can't stab someone with those), pencil sharpeners, screwdrivers, etc.
e) random body searches on at least 10% of passengers at each checkpoint, including contentsearch of their belongings.
f) bulletproof partitions between airside and landside parts of the departure and arrival terminals, patrolled by armed uniformed and plainclothes guards during airport operating hours.
I wish I were flying
aaron atp
Topic Author
Posts: 517
Joined: Sun Mar 19, 2000 1:17 pm

RE: Security Suggestions

Sat Sep 15, 2001 2:00 am

>>>You fail to address the real need for strict security checks on passengers<<<

True, but these things are already being implemented in the short-term. I don't think we could do anything to make it more secure in the short term without dealing a completely devastating blow to the airline industry and aviation in general. I think the measures that have been implemented since tuesday will evolve to a state of higher efficiency over the coming months or years, especially as new equipment replaces the old in our current checkpoints.

Another thing that is already being considered is more secure cockpit doors. What kind of emotional stress will this put pilots under whan they land to find that everyone in the back were executed on at a time to draw them out of the cockpit. We could arm our pilots with non-fatal weapons (my suggestion is air tasers) but how realistic is that...

*I think I cut out the bit about the marshals and focus on federalization of airport security.

>>>colour coding badges is a good idea but pointless without ways to enforce the plan. <<<

If airport security operation were assumed by a federal agency under the auspices of the FAA or FBI, the resulting agency would be the issuing/enforcing body.

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RE: Security Suggestions

Sat Sep 15, 2001 7:15 am

In most locations, (8) is already done. I'm based in the UK, and whenever I enter the US, they run my passport through a scanner and it shows details on when I was last in the US, when I left, etc... This is done only for non-US citizens, as far as I know.

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RE: Security Suggestions

Sat Sep 15, 2001 12:18 pm

Re-inforce the Cabin to cockpit door to avoid it being forced open.
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
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RE: Security Suggestions

Sat Sep 15, 2001 12:29 pm

I think also airports should do things more like what I have seen for example in for example SFO's new Internation Terminal which you can get past the security but the actual gate area which is in a "box" can not be entered unless you are a passenger. This allows for better security plus it will still allow aviation enthusiasts and families able to enter the terminal instead of just dropping people off. I hope things can be worked out and also I wish the absolute best to all victims and relatives.
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RE: Security Suggestions

Sun Sep 16, 2001 12:36 am

These are all good short-term suggestions, but let's face it, it is impossible to devise a protective measure against every known and imagined scenario. Think about the tragedy of Sept. 11 - the terrorists only had knives. So if they knew that knives are not allowed, they would have been trained in hand-to-hand combat and would have had more team members assigned to a flight to assure they could overpower the passengers and crew. The outcome would have been the same, but with the added burden of inspections imposed on every air traveler, on every flight, at every airport, every day of the year.

We must be looking at preventive solutions for the long-term, since that is where real safety will be realized. This may include a much higher level of background checks prior to issuing visas from all countries, including friendly ones; more active infiltration of terrorist cells with appropriate covert actions; requiring other nations to actively feret out terrorists as a condition of allowing their airlines' access to the participating nations airspace; etc.

Let's no get too focused on short-term "fixes" at the expense of permanent solutions.

"In God we trust, everyone else bring data"

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