The following statement was issued today by Capt. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) in response to the incident where a stowaway managed to ship himself in a cargo crate last Saturday:
“This is exactly the kind of cargo security breach that we have been warning government and industry about. If a garden-variety fugitive from justice can place himself on a cargo airliner for two days by the mere act of stowing away in a plain wooden crate, how hard would it be for trained, determined terrorists to do the same thing, armed with weapons and explosives?
“Despite the significant strides we have made in security on passenger airliners, security improvements at cargo airlines have been grossly inadequate. This individual used existing protocols to circumvent all current, implemented security regulations—which currently require little or no screening of cargo on cargo aircraft.
“Cargo airline management, through some supporters in Congress, worked overtime to block requirements for reinforced cockpit doors and armed pilots on cargo airliners. They claimed that cargo pilots were not at risk, that terrorists couldn’t find their way onto their aircraft. This incident shows that they are in denial as to the risks.
“Nearly a decade ago, ALPA successfully championed the concept of One Level of Safety for all levels of airline passenger operators. The cargo carrier segment of the industry has resisted attempts to apply this concept to their operations, and has a long history of getting itself exempted from various safety and security requirements imposed on passenger carriers. The failure of cargo carriers to improve their post-9/11 security virtually guarantees that they will continue to be the weakest link in our efforts to keep terrorists away from airliners. A cargo airliner full of boxes makes just as deadly a guided missile as a passenger airliner full of people.
“Members of the ALPA Cargo Committee are meeting with government and industry working groups for improved protocols and regulations regarding shipment of air cargo on cargo and passenger carriers. Nevertheless, this incident underscores the need for enhanced security and screening for all cargo shipments on all cargo aircraft.”
ALPA, the world’s oldest and largest pilot union, represents 66,000 airline pilots at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.