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Aviation panel calls for new security measures

December 13, 1996
Web posted at: 9:10 a.m. EST

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Under plans to overhaul the airline security system, making a plane reservation would trigger an instant profile of a passenger's background, including past travels and possible criminal history information.

The passenger profile system was one of a score of recommendations made Thursday by a Federal Aviation Administration advisory panel.

The Clinton administration and the FAA have been on a fast track to improve security since last summer's still unexplained explosion of TWA Flight 800 off New York's Long Island.

"We can't feel complacent any longer, feeling that we in the United States are immune from terrorism. We are not," said Dick Lally, chairman of the Aviation Security Advisory Committee, which made the recommendations.

President Clinton welcomed the proposals. "This is a critical part of our long-range plans to make America more secure and to make sure our skies are safer," he said.

The panel urged FAA certification of designated airport security workers and better training for airport and airline personnel. It also stressed the need for an increased use of bomb-sniffing dogs, the speedy installation of explosive-detection devices and greater use of high-tech equipment.

Government should pay

The committee, made up of 23 industry, government and public interest groups, suggested the federal government, not the airline industry, pay for the increased security measures. It estimated the proposals would cost $9.9 billion over the next 10 years.

"It's not an airline or airport problem. It's a national security problem," Lally said. "Airports and airlines are surrogate targets. The real targets are the policies and government of the United States."


The Office of Management and Budget immediately objected to such general funding, saying there is not enough discretionary money.

So far, the airline industry has agreed with most reforms despite worries that increased security will mean flight delays and angry passengers.

"I think once everybody gets used to the security checks and once the system gets automated the delays will disappear," said Bonnie Wilson, a member of the panel representing the Airports Council International-North America. "And the passengers will appreciate feeling safer."

A White House commission to study air travel security established by Clinton after the TWA Flight 800 explosion also is considering computer profiling of airline passengers.


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