Letter to the Honorable Tim Valentine and the Honorable Tom Lewis, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, from Allen Li, RAND Associate Director of Transportation Issues, discussing Aviation Security, September 27, 1994   [open pdf - 976KB]

Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) efforts to comply with the Aviation Security Improvement Act and develop and implement new security technologies. GAO noted that: (1) FAA did not meet Congress' goal to deploy new security technology at airports by November 1993; (2) although several explosive detection devices could improve airport security, technical problems have slowed their development; (3) considerable time will be needed to implement the new technologies at high-threat domestic and international airports; (4) although improving aircraft survivability through blast resistant luggage containers and hardened structures shows promise, it is uncertain when these technologies will be in widespread use; (5) FAA needs to improve its certification process for new explosive detection devices because its current process does not adequately test the new systems to ensure their performance and reliability; (6) FAA does not believe that on-site testing should be part of the certification process, since such testing will likely add time and costs to the process; (7) airport testing may enable FAA to gain the confidence of the airline industry; (8) FAA believes that the airline industry should evaluate the software used in new explosive detection devices, since these systems rely heavily on software to indicate the presence of explosive devices; and (9) the costs to acquire new security technology could range from $250,000 to over $1 million per device.

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