Washington, April 25, 2002-The Air Transport Association of America (ATA) and the Regional Airline Association (RAA) today applauded yesterday`s announcement by Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta to purchase and deploy a mix of explosive screening technologies. According to both organizations, Mineta`s announcement will enable the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to purchase and deploy both computed tomography (CT) and explosive trace detection (ETD) machines to provide explosive detection system screening of all checked baggage by the December 31, 2002, deadline mandated by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act.
“Secretary Mineta`s announcement represents a wise and fully informed approach to explosive detection screening that is consistent with the provisions of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act,” stated Carol Hallett, ATA President and CEO. “Aviation security must continue to evolve into a sophisticated system allowing the application of diverse technologies for clearing both passengers and baggage. The two technologies now in the TSA`s plan each bring important and unique attributes to the security equation. As technology continues to develop, still more tools will be added to the system. We look forward to working with the TSA on the details of an effective deployment plan in the coming months.”
RAA President Deborah McElroy further noted, “This deployment will allow small and large airports served by regional airlines to have comparable levels of security for passengers and baggage.”
As Congressman James L. Oberstar, Ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, correctly noted in a December 18, 2001, statement, “The Act gives the Department of Transportation, in coordination with the airlines, flexibility to determine which methods, or combinations of methods, should be used to screen checked baggage in any given situation; the authorized methods include explosive detection systems, positive passenger bag match, manual inspections, bomb-sniffing dogs, TRACE detection (which “sniffs” for chemicals) and other effective technologies.”
Hallett also took issue with recent comments by former DOT Inspector General Mary Schiavo and former airline security official Douglas Laird, stating, “It is unfortunate that these self-ordained security experts continue to misrepresent the benefits of certain security screening programs, specifically ETD technology. Because they have been removed from their former positions for several years, they no longer possess current expertise on many of the subjects on which they continue to comment. Their misinformed remarks do a disservice to aviation and the public at large.” Both Schiavo and Laird spoke negatively about ETD technology in published news accounts of the Mineta announcement.
ATA is the nation`s oldest and largest airline trade organization with 22 U.S. and four international members. ATA member airlines transport over 95 percent of all passengers and cargo traffic in the United States. RAA, a non-profit organization, represents U.S. regional airlines and the manufacturers of the products and services that support the industry, before the Congress, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation and other federal agencies. Founded in 1975, RAA also provides a wide array of technical and promotional services to regional airlines. RAA`s member airlines transported 94 percent of total regional airline industry passengers in 2001.