Airport News July 2005.


FAA supports controversial O'Hare expansion plan. The Federal Aviation Administration said it supports Chicago's $15 billion plan to expand O'Hare International Airport. Chicago officials expect the FAA to grant final approval in September and hope the expansion reduces flight delays. However, the plan faces opposition from some communities. It would require Chicago to raze 500 homes, displacing 2,600 people, and move 200 businesses and a cemetery. Jul 29, 2005

Airport directors say screener cuts would lengthen security lines. Airport directors say plans to cut the number of airport screeners by 13% could lengthen security lines. A Senate spending measure would cut 6,000 of the Transportation Security Administration's 45,000 screeners. The Department of Homeland Security also opposes the plan. The House of Representatives has voted to cut 2,000 screener positions, according to TSA officials. However, the chairman of the House subcommittee overseeing Homeland Security funding said lawmakers voted to cut unnecessary costs, not screener positions. Jul 29, 2005

Two airports ask to switch to private screeners. Just two airports have asked to switch to private security screeners from federal security screeners. Sioux Falls Regional Airport in South Dakota and Elko Regional Airport in Nevada have applied to change screeners. The House Homeland Security subcommittee will hold a hearing Thursday to learn why more airports have not applied to change to private screeners. Jul 28, 2005

TSA installs explosives-detection device at Newark Liberty. A new explosives-detection machine installed in Newark Liberty International Airport may reduce the need for pat-downs. The Transportation Security Administration installed the machine, which blows puffs of air at each person entering it. The air blows particles to the ground, where they are sucked into vents and analyzed. Officials say the machine will help prevent terrorist threats but will not reduce the need for screeners. Jul 27, 2005

Airport improvements may cost billions. Improvements to U.S. airports will cost about $14.3 billion each year from 2005 through 2009. Record demand for air travel will push development costs above $71.5 billion through 2009, according to a study sponsored by the Airports Council International-North America, a group representing the bodies that own and operate U.S. commercial airports. Jul 27, 2005

Security funds should be allocated based on need. The Senate recently voted to give all states a relatively equal share of $2.9 billion in federal security grants. Instead, lawmakers should have distributed funds to cities and counties at the greatest risk of terrorist attacks, according to a San Francisco Chronicle editorial. Jul 26, 2005

TSA database violates Privacy Act, government report says. A Transportation Security Administration database that included biographical information on 43,000 passengers from private companies violated the federal Privacy Act, according to government auditors. Although the database broke the law, it did not cause the release of personal data or wrongly stop a passenger from boarding a commercial plane. The TSA used the database to test the Secure Flight Screening system, which is expected to launch next year. The government will also try to decide whether the TSA can use commercial data to locate terrorist sleeper cells. Jul 24, 2005

The Federal Aviation Administration, air traffic controllers and pilots should work to eliminate near-collisions on airport runways, a New York Times editorial says. Although these incidents are rare, they are avoidable and should not happen, the editorial reads. Jul 24, 2005

Lawmakers propose closing Dallas Love Field to commercial flights. Lawmakers are debating bills that would stop commercial flights from operating at Dallas Love Field, where Southwest Airlines operates a large hub. Southwest is pushing for the repeal of the Wright Amendment, which limits flying from Love Field. Some lawmakers have proposed closing Love Field to commercial flights, a move that could force Southwest to operate from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Jul 22, 2005

Agency should improve cyber security, government official says. The Department of Homeland Security must develop a recovery plan in the event of a widespread attack on the Internet, a government official said. David Powner, director of IT Management for the Government Accountability Office, said the agency must also develop a way to assess threats to national cyber security. Powner made the remarks before a U.S. Senate subcommittee earlier this week. Jul 21, 2005

Airlines, airports update travelers with text messages. Airports and airlines are using text messaging services to update travelers on the status of flights, travel times and bookings. The British Airport Authority has launched "Flying Messenger" for passengers traveling out of London's Heathrow or Gatwick airports. The tool allows travelers to check their flight departure or arrival times. Jul 20, 2005

Private firms can run Registered Traveler Program. Some airports will hire private companies to administer the government's Registered Traveler program, the Transportation Security Administration said. The program allows prescreened travelers to enter a special security line. The travelers go through a metal detector but are exempt from additional screening. Officials said the program will move faster if private companies run it. Jul 20, 2005

Companies, feds work to develop bomb detection technology. Bomb-sniffing dogs remain the most effective way to find explosives on a person boarding a subway or bus. Federal officials say no technology exists to detect someone carrying bombs. Companies and government agencies are working to develop technology for mass transit systems. Even advanced equipment, such as the PROTECT chemical sensor system used in Washington, D.C., is not designed to prevent an attack. Jul 19, 2005

Airports add glitz, amenities to new terminals. Flashy terminals are opening at airports across the U.S. Many airports need the new facilities to accommodate passenger growth. However, some observers say the terminals are opening at a bad time. The airline industry is struggling to recover from a prolonged financial slump and United Airlines and US Airways are operating under bankruptcy protection. Jul 18, 2005

Homeland Security should coordinate intelligence, protection units. The reorganization of the Department of Homeland Security will emphasize the role of intelligence in preventing terrorist attacks, writes Clark Kent Ervin, former inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security in a New York Times editorial. Kent believes the intelligence unit must closely coordinate with the department's infrastructure protection group, which is responsible for preventing and preparing for terrorist attacks. The U.S. is...

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