The Allied Pilots Association (APA), collective bargaining agent for the 11,500 pilots of American Airlines (NYSE:AMR), released the following statement today regarding the joint government/industry working group that was convened early this year to address air cargo security:
“The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks drastically changed how the American public, the U.S. Government and every airline crewmember views aviation security. Shortly before Thanksgiving 2001, Congress approved the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA). This legislation provides for screening of all property, including cargo, to be carried aboard passenger aircraft. It also requires that 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 as soon as practicable. Currently, cargo `screening` relies on a single layered security approach commonly referred to as the `Known Shipper Program` and does not include the physical inspection of cargo contents.
“At its January 22, 2003 meeting, the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC), under the auspices of the TSA, agreed to form a joint government/industry working group to address air cargo security. However, we believe that the TSA erred in limiting the scope of some of the sub-working groups to enhancements of the current Known Shipper Program. A complete overhaul of the air cargo security system would have been more appropriate. The General Accounting Office, Department of Transportation, Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal agencies have all articulated air cargo security vulnerabilities in numerous reports to Congress. We believe this is precisely why the framers of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act wanted all articles placed on an aircraft to be inspected. After all, if we cannot verify what is in the box at the outset, how can we reasonably expect to protect and insure its integrity once accepted for shipment by any party en route?
“APA cast a `NO` vote at today`s ASAC meeting to indicate that additional work should be accomplished by the ASAC Cargo Working Group members. One level of cargo security is imperative for both passenger and cargo carriers. It is likewise imperative that we know what is being shipped.
“The only solution to air cargo security is 100 percent inspection of all cargo on all commercial aircraft. Although current technology may temporarily limit attaining the 100 percent goal, the TSA should take immediate steps to begin a physical inspection process. Congress must insure that funding is available to provide the research and development necessary to rapidly meet a 100 percent goal. Solid deadlines, funding mandates and autonomous program oversight must be provided to support the spirit and intent of the Aviation Transportation Security Act.”
That is the complete text of the statement.
Founded in 1963, APA is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. More information about APA can be found at www.alliedpilots.org.