Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 18, 2006

National Strategy for Aviation Security in the works

Filed under: Aviation Security — by Christian Beckner on December 18, 2006

A few months ago, Heritage Foundation scholar Jim Carafano wrote a memo proposing the need for the government to develop a “national air security strategy,” similar to the National Strategy for Maritime Security. Around that same time, the White House issued a still-classified directive (HSPD-16 / NSPD-47) on aviation security, about which few details are publicly known.

Consistent with this recommendation and directive, the federal government seems to be developing a National Strategy for Aviation Security. A Google search of this phrase reveals a link to the entry page for a TSA webboard where there is a menu option titled “National Strategy for Aviation Security.” The Google search also reveals a couple of other references to the Strategy, i.e. the program for an aviation conference in Oregon, within which one of the speakers’ bios references it.

The development of this Strategy prompts a number of questions. Is it still under development, or has it been finished and quietly disseminated inside the federal government? Are there plans to make it public, or will this be like the frequently-panned National Strategy for Transportation Security, which was a classified document and never published? Which non-governmental stakeholders have been consulted in the development of this Strategy?

Hopefully we’ll see a public version of this National Strategy in the next year, following the model of the National Strategy for Maritime Security, which has served its purpose since publication as a useful reference strategy for all maritime security stakeholders.

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Pingback by Good Sense

December 19, 2006 @ 9:37 pm

[…] Christian Beckner illustrates and informs about a proposed national aviation security strategy in this post to his excellent blog here. […]

Comment by sy levine

February 24, 2007 @ 9:02 pm

At first look it isn’t obvious that the Payne Stewart(golfer)/ Helios(2005 – 100+fatality) decompression crashes and 911 are related but from a aviation safety and security system view they are:

When a plane substantially deviates from its approved flight plan it is presently possible to have a remote pilot located in a secure simulator fly the plane to a safe landing at a remotely populated airfield. Over 70% of all fatal air crashes occurrences are readily preventable if handled correctly.

Unfortunately, the data needed to accomplish this is locked up in the flight recorder and is utilized predominately in an autopsy mode. If the data is so important that it is necessary to discover the cause of a fatal crash it is much more important to prevent a fatal crash. Yet because of the aviation industry’s partnership with the FAA and NTSB none of the flight data coming out of the recorders is available in real-time to proactively prevent fatal crashes. The inability to use the flight data in real time has jeopardized the safety and security of the traveling public and the nation. The astronauts were guided back from the moon because the data was telemetered to the ground in real-time. Once it got to the ground it was analyzed, and then via a concerted effort by experts, using simulations the proper and safe way to handle life threatening situation was accomplished. Yet this proven technique isn’t utilized by the industrial/government partnership to keep our nation and air-passengers safe and secure.

One year prior to 911, I was the guest speaker at the International Aviation Safety Association meeting in NY where I spoke on how terrorists and decompression fatal crashes are preventable via remote control of a deviating aircraft using ciphered technology developed for our ballistic missiles. This technology can prevent most aviation crashes (approximately 70%) even those from mechanical problems and errors of commission and omission. At present a pilot has displayed only a fraction of the information necessary to make the right decision to prevent a crash. The pilot in many instances is seeing a problem for the first time. The aircraft data and air traffic control data isn’t shared extensively so experts on handling the aircraft’s problem aren’t consulted nor can the problem be simulated to aid in crash prevention. This data vacuum is responsible for most fatal crashes. For example, the Swiss Air and Alaskan Air fatal crashes could have been prevented if handled correctly.

In addition it is not only terrorists that sabotage aircraft. Commercial and Military pilots have also done it. When a pilot deviates substantially from the approved flight plan the aircraft should be safely remote piloted to a landing at a sparsely populated airport. Several years ago a rogue military pilot substantially deviated from his approved Continental United States (CONUS) flight plan and flew an A-10 aircraft loaded with bombs clandestinely across multiple states. It took two weeks to find the plane which had crashed into a Colorado mountain. The plane was eventually found but the bombs are still missing. Exhaustive searches were made but no one has a clew as to what happened to the bombs. Must we wait for a bigger disaster than 911 before any action takes place?

Everyone knowledgeable about the holes in our aviation system, brought about by the industrial government partnership, knew that a 911 could occur and the government allowed it to occur. Even though we knew about Payne Stewart nothing was done and so we got Helios’ 100 + deaths. Presently we are just as vulnerable to a 911 disaster, decompression disaster, … etc. as we were in 2001. The public needs to know the system is fixable for the good of our nation. Even though 3000 people died needlessly on 911 the system doesn’t fix the data vacuum mode of operation. It works around the system with attempted patches that are costly and ineffective fixes simply to protect the industry from liability suits. The necessary data is only available in the tombstone/autopsy mode. With all of the deaths that were preventable not a single FAA or NTSB person was even laid-off. Thus, the industry won out and the public and nation suffered. It is quite possible that we went into an unnecessary and horrible war just because we protected the special interest of the aviation industry. The cost of those disasters alone would have been a small fraction of the cost necessary to fix the system and we would now have a safer and securer nation. Instead, things are the same and we are vulnerable.

If you should need more info on this please don’t hesitate to contact me (you can see some of my work by going to Google and doing a search on “aviation security, safety and sy levine” or go to my web site http://www.safelander.com. My work was also featured on the BBC show called “The Black Box”. There is simply no reason, technical, cost or data privacy wise” for not using the Black Box Data in real-time, in addition to its autopsy mode, to make our nation safer and securer. The fear of liability, via law suits, should not stand in the way of the airline passenger safety, the safety of people on the ground, or our national security. It is imperative that the traveling public write to the President, their Congressional Representatives, the DOT, FAA and NTSB and demand that the Black Box data be available and utilized in real-time for the security of our nation and to substantially reduce fatal crashes.

Sy Levine

Comment by sy levine

March 14, 2007 @ 12:59 pm

One further point needs to made. If a remote pilot system was available when Payne Stewart’s plane and the Helios plane deviated from their approved flight plans the passengers and pilots would have probably be alive today. The reason for this is that when it was noted that the planes substantially deviated from their approved flight plan and no contact could be made with them then the remote pilot would take the planes down to an altitude where, after flying for more than 15 minutes most if not all of the passengers and pilots would have recovered. If at that time the pilots were in a condition to resume the pilotage of planes that function would be transferred back to the onboard pilot. The onboard pilots would than safely land the aircraft.

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