· Mr. Stephen Alterman, President, Cargo Airline Association; Chairman, Aviation Security Advisory Committee
· Ms. Sharon Pinkerton, Senior Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Policy, Airlines for America
· Ms. Kim Day, Chief Executive Officer, Denver International Airport
· Mr. Mark Laustra, Vice President of Global Business Development and Government Relations, Analogic
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security
The hearing will be held in Senate Russell Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
Chairman Roy Blunt
Opening Statement - Remarks as prepared
Good morning. Thank you to the witnesses for appearing before this Subcommittee today to discuss their perspectives on improving the Transportation Security Administration for the security of traveling public.
Today, we have before us:
- Mr. Stephen Alterman, who is both President of the Cargo Airline Association, and Chairman of the Aviation Security Advisory Committee;
- Ms. Shannon Pinkerton, Senior Vice President for Legislative and Regulatory Policy at Airlines for America;
- Mr. Mark Laustra, Vice President for Global Business Development at Analogic, a company that develops state-of-the-art threat detection systems for airport baggage and checkpoint screening; and
- Ms. Kim Day, CEO of the Denver International Airport.
I’m excited to take the gavel of Senate Commerce’s Subcommittee on Aviation, Safety, and Security. From airports and airlines to manufacturing and tourism – aviation supports tens of millions of jobs, and trillions in economic output. We must ensure Missouri, and our nation, has the underlying infrastructure necessary to complement continued growth in the aviation sector. Continued growth is important, but it’s just as important to ensure the safety of air travel through rigorous oversight of the FAA and TSA.
Missourians expect our nation’s airports to operate efficiently to reduce passenger wait times, but they also demand we protect against terrorists, criminals, and smugglers. The asymmetric threat of terrorism is most evident in aviation security. TSA cannot miss a single threat, but terrorist only need to slip by once to commit a potentially catastrophic attack. TSA faces a formidable challenge: In 2016, it screened more than 738 million passenger (more than 2 million per day), 466 million checked bags, and 24.2 million employees at 450 of our nation’s airports.
We must be cognizant of the security challenges in airport public areas, and the potential threat posed by insiders with unfettered access in secure areas of airports. We must also confront challenges with TSA management and its technology acquisition programs, its communication with industry stakeholders, and its communication with passengers to expand Pre-Check.
Striking the balance between efficiency for passenger convenience and security is – and will remain – an ongoing effort. Recent headlines involving attacks at airports in Ft. Lauderdale, Brussels, Belgium, and Los Angeles make the threat clear. From lone-wolf terrorists – including those who may be inspired by, if not directly affiliated with, terrorist organizations – to the prospect of a mass casualty attack involving aviation, we must remain vigilant against the evolving techniques used by ISIS and other terrorist organizations.
The Senate Commerce Committee made great strides last year in advancing a bipartisan FAA Reauthorization bill. A number of its TSA- and security-related provisions were included in the short-term FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act.
Some of the safety-related accomplishments include:
- Improvements to TSA oversight of missing airport access badges, and the vetting process for badges of airport employees;
- TSA review of airport perimeter security;
- Greater partnership between TSA and the private sector in collaboration on private sector marketing to enroll more Americans in TSA Pre-Check.
- Authorizing a doubling of “Viper” teams at airports from 30 to 60;
- Expanding eligibility for the existing State Homeland Security Grant Program for active shooter training exercises and preparedness; and
- Authorization of multiple provisions to improve security checkpoints for passengers, including a pilot program at 3 of the top 20 largest airports, an assessment of TSA staffing decisions to optimize efficiency, and directing the Aviation Security Advisory Committee to develop further recommendations for future checkpoints that are more efficient and effective for screening passengers.
Collectively, these enacted provisions represent the most comprehensive reforms to TSA in a decade, and illustrate bipartisanship in striking the balance between passenger convenience and ensuring security.
The purpose of this hearing is to examine TSA’s implementation of these provisions, and to examine what additional steps this committee may consider to enhance security for the traveling public.
I look forward to working with our Committee Chairman, John Thune, our Ranking Member, Bill Nelson, and my Subcommittee counterpart, Maria Cantwell, on continued bipartisan success in advancing a comprehensive FAA reauthorization this year that is pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-passenger, and, most importantly, pro-security.
I turn now to Ranking Member Cantwell for any remarks she would like to make.
Witness Panel 1
Mr. Stephen AltermanPresident, Cargo Airline AssociationChairman, Aviation Security Advisory Committee
Ms. Sharon PinkertonSenior Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory PolicyAirlines for America
Ms. Kim DayChief Executive OfficerDenver International Airport
Mr. Mark LaustraVice President of Global Business Development and Government RelationsAnalogic