The Department of Transportation yesterday created two "Rapid Response Teams" to deliver detailed recommendations for improving security on airliners and at the major, airline-served airports. The two teams are scheduled to report back to Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta by October 1.
"These teams appear to be working solely on commercial airline passenger and airport issues," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "AOPA is focusing right now on getting VFR flights back in the air. Our efforts are better spent there than sitting on airline-related committees.
"However, if the response teams' mandate expands beyond airline issues, we've asked Secretary Mineta to add representatives from the general aviation community." (See AOPA's letter to Mineta.)
AOPA also asked DOT to be more specific in its statements to the press. While DOT has said that the national air system had been "successfully restored," AOPA told the secretary, "Until VFR operations are restored, we obviously do not consider the system 'successfully restored.' The unexpected effect of these statements is national news media representation leading some pilots to undertake VFR operations."
(VFR operations are still prohibited. Part 91 IFR operations are permitted with some restrictions.)
The Rapid Response Team on airport security will include Southwest Airlines Chairman Herb Kelleher, former U.S. Customs Commissioner Raymond Kelly, and American Association of Airport Executives President Charles Barclay.
The team focusing on airliner security includes American Airlines Vice Chairman Robert W. Baker, former Boeing official Robert A. Davis, Air Line Pilots Association President Capt. Duane Woerth, and Patricia Friend, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants.