Seventh Public Hearing of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States: Staff Statement No. 3: The Aviation Security System and the 9/11 Attacks, January 27, 2004   [open pdf - 52KB]

Alternate Title: 9/11 Commisssion, Seventh Public Hearing: Staff Statement No. 3:The Aviation Security System and the 9/11 Attacks, January 27, 2004

The seventh public hearing of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States was held January 26-27, 2004 in Washington, DC. The two-day investigative hearing developed facts and circumstances relating to border and aviation security, two central aspects of the Commission's mandate. The focus of this Staff Statement is on "The Aviation Security System and the 9/11 Attacks." The following is an excerpt from the introduction: "Before September 11, 2001, the aviation security system had been enjoying a period of relative peace. No U.S. flagged aircraft had been bombed or hijacked in over a decade. Domestic hijacking in particular seemed like a thing of the past, something that could only happen to foreign airlines that were less well protected. The public's own 'threat assessment' before September 11 was sanguine about commercial aviation safety and security. In a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics survey conducted at the end of the 1990s, 78 percent cited poor maintenance as 'a greater threat to airline safety' than terrorism. Demand for air service was strong and was beginning to exceed the capacity of the system. Heeding constituent calls for improved air service and increased capacity, Congress focused its legislative and oversight attention on measures to address these problems, including a 'passenger bill of rights' to assure a more efficient and convenient passenger experience. The leadership of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also focused on safety, customer service, capacity and economic issues. The agency's security agenda was focused on efforts to implement a three-year-old Congressional mandate to deploy explosives detection equipment at all major airports and complete a nearly five-year-old rulemaking effort to improve checkpoint screening. This staff statement will not address certain security performance issues leading up to 9/11 at the airports from which the hijacked planes departed. Such work is still ongoing. It should be noted that the airports themselves did not have operational or enforcement jurisdiction over checkpoint screening operations. Passenger prescreening and checkpoint screening, based on regulations from the FAA, were the responsibility of the air carriers. Nevertheless, airport authorities do play a key role in the overall civil aviation security system."

Report Number:
Staff Statement No. 3
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States: http://www.9-11commission.gov
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