“Securing the Skies” Highlights Aviation Security Achievements, Ongoing Challenges

Aviation security stakeholders, Hill staffers, and news media reporters convened today for “Securing the Skies: Aviation Security a Dozen Years after 9/11,” a one-day conference held in Washington, D.C., and jointly sponsored by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) and Airlines for America (A4A). This special event featured keynote presentations and panel discussions examining ongoing threats to air transportation, and what the industry must do to protect itself from terrorist and other criminal threats.

“In our post-9/11 world, we can no longer confine our thinking to stopping criminal acts that take place while an aircraft is on the ground or in flight,” said ALPA president Capt. Lee Moak, in his opening comments. “In this new era, we need our intelligence community to continually devote the resources required to prevent acts of terrorism.” He noted that an effective deterrence approach requires cooperation and that the intelligence community “must collaborate and communicate, not only with others in government, but also with industry stakeholders.”

Moak talked about the success of the Known Crewmember program and the partnership between ALPA, A4A, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which makes it possible. The ALPA president also discussed the continuing need for the federal flight deck officer program as an important layer of defense and called on industry to install cockpit secondary barriers as an added level of security and improve cargo security.

Securing the Skies included a broad spectrum of aviation security leaders sharing their insights about pertinent security issues. TSA Administrator John Pistole explained how TSA works within the Department of Homeland Security and the challenges his organization confronts. Director of Air Domain Intelligence Integration Element Tina Gabbrielli, from the office of the director of National Intelligence, gave the luncheon keynote and discussed the involvement of what she referred to as the global air community and the value of intelligence-information sharing.

In addition, panelists explored aviation security as it relates to flight security improvements and challenges, protecting the National Airspace System from cyber threats, the evolution of risk-based security, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s use of overseas preclearance facilities.

Prior to the start of the meeting, Capt. Moak met with several political and transportation reporters to discuss current events and other topics in advance of the meeting. Common themes throughout the discussion included the Abu Dhabi preclearance facility and properly funding the aviation industry to globally compete.

Morning and lunchtime conference presentations were broadcast live via webcast. In addition, look for more coverage of the Securing the Skies conference in the February 2014 issue of Air Line Pilot magazine.