Aviation Security Summit – General Session II Q

Aviation Security Summit – General Session II
Carter Morris; Moderator, Senior VP, Transportation Security Policy, AAAE
Robin Kane, Asst., Admin & Chief of Technology, TSA
John Sammon, Asst., Admin, Transportation Sector Management (TSNM), TSA
Mark Dolan, Acting General Manager for Operational Performance and Screening Operations, TSA

(written in real-time during the session – please forgive grammatical and structure errors – comment are paraphrased, unless enclosed in quotes)

The theme of RBS, risk based security, continued in the second session, with a more detailed discussion of how it will be implemented. The principle of RBS is to know more about the traveling public, determine as best as possible who is and isn’t a threat, and focus on those that the government knows less about, or knows a lot about and believes may be a threat. Technology is an important component, that will be used to help determine who is who.

Opening Comments:

Dolan noted currently, pre-check is working within the existing staffing allocations, but that part of the testing process is to assess whether there needs to be a change in staffing, but where screening personnel are posted within the airport may change. Dolan also (addressing screener staffing): he felt they handled the Thanksgiving travel okay and feel they are best prepared for the Christmas holiday travel season.

Sammon addressed the current reorganization including a focus on security policy and industry engagement, “without industry engagement you don’t come up with policies that work,” Sammon said.

Kane spoke to the ability of technology to be used throughout RBS, including even in baggage screening, but he did predict that continuing to install or replace existing inline systems will be challenging in the future, due to budget and funding issues. Kane: TSA just recently acquired 300 additional AIT (Advanced Imaging Technology) machines, all equipped with ATR (Automatic Threat Recognition).

Carter: while TSA is concerned about passengers understanding the system and following the screening rules, but everyone is focused on wait times and not letting them climb. Dolan believes that they have more experience in seeing when wait times start to go up and surge workforce into specific periods where needed.

Questions from Participants:

Q: Reno: how far away are we from approved exit-lane technology?

A: Kane: there are some exit lane technologies out there at airports…Congress asked us to look into it, so we solicited industry and got a low level of response – they were pretty high cost as well. “So, we aren’t going to do those pilots, we’re going to survey the airport environment and see what solutions are working and move forward.”

Q: LAX: were there any lessons learned in doing Secure Flight that can be applied to Pre-Check.

A: Kane: number of lessons learned, but we didn’t have anything that caused pre-check to not work when we went online. There were some printing issues in printing boarding passes, but we learned and are applying that to airlines coming on board right now.

Q: Sea-Tac: Questioned the divergence of how airports and TSA monitors wait times – what about automated wait time technology?

A: Kane: we intend to test some of that technology in 2012. We think it’s a pretty simple solution and I think we’ll be able to get that operational testing done, and be able to share it with the airport, or even inform passengers so they can self manage their cues.

Q: Portland (OR): what other policy issues do you seen coming forth?

A: Sammon: air cargo is big, this time last year with the incident out of Yemen. So, we have a whole series of initiatives, that we’re working with carriers bringing cargo from outside the U.S. [We] want to focus on risk based, in air cargo. The LASP rule is out of TSA and undergoing governmental review and we’re hoping that gets out of the system and to the public [soon]. Sammon hopes it is received favorably due to industry input that was part of the development, whereas the previous LASP had none.

Also in General Aviation, working on a large number of issues including greater access to DCA.

Q: Participant Question: How does industry get ideas to TSA, outside of the Broad Agency Announcement?

A: Kane: Some through the Broad Agency Announcement, and through the industry associations. We’re open to other ideas from the industry, but it has to be something that moves us forward.

Kane also noted that it’s difficult to turn solutions that are developed by academia, but once it’s proven that the technology that works, TSA still has to go through the federal procurement process, which makes it difficult to get it implemented.

Q: Centennial Airport: With RBS, shouldn’t we look at scrapping LASP (Large Aircraft Security Program) and focus more on charter security?

A: Sammon: cited a reference where an industry rep said he wouldn’t fly without the [GA rules] – “a lot of the things in there are common sense,” What a lot of GA people are worried about is someone doing something with GA aircraft, such as an incident, then Congress coming down with very restrictive regulations. From an RB standpoint, it doesn’t look at every small aircraft that flies around, but aircraft that are large enough to cause damage. The LASP is focused [now] on procedures that the industry is already going – such as locking your plane.

Q on new technologies

A: Kane, shoe scanner is still aways out. Presently, children under 12 are able to keep their shoes on, and there are some other RBS methods that can be used to handle the shoe issue, rather than technology.

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