Transportation

  • Airport screener union says TSA is violating contract

    In January, 45,000 airport screeners and their union reached an agreement with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on the first collective bargaining agreement since the agency was created after 9/11. The American Federation of Government Employees union now says TSA management has violated the terms of the January agreement in several areas.

  • Former investigators pushing for new look into TWA flight 800 crash

    Former investigators want to reopen the case of the 1996 TWA Flight 800 crash off the coast of Long Island. They say that new evidence points to a missile strike that may have hit the jet. Theories of an errant missile being fired from a U.S. military vessel – advanced, among others, by Pierre Salinger, who was JFK’s press secretary in the early 1960s — were refuted, but a separate theory of shoulder-fired missile fired by terrorists has lingered.

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  • U.K. nuclear disaster exercise reveals worrisome lapses in emergency response

    Up to six times a year, U.K. nuclear weapons are transported in heavily guarded convoys between production facilities in Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire, where the nuclear bombs are manufactured, and the Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Coulport on Loch Long in Argyll. The trips are required because scientists must regularly examine the 200 Trident missile warheads in order to make sure they are operationally reliable and properly maintained. Every three years, the U.K. Ministry of Defense (MoD) conducts a drill aiming to test how various agencies respond to an accident involving the convoy carrying the nuclear warheads. An internal report on the last drill notes many problems in the response to the simulated accident, including five-hour wait for weapons experts, confusion over radiation monitoring, and ambulance crews refusing to take contamination victims to hospitals.

  • Airport baggage scanning: slow, steady pace yields better results

    Next time you are doing a slow burn in security screening at the airport, calm yourself with the assurance that a more deliberate baggage scanner may do a better job. Researchers find that systematic searching frees up memory to do a better job at scanning.

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  • TSA’s behavior detection program not cost effective: DHS IG

    DHS Inspector General (IG) has released a 41-page report last week stating that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) cannot ensure that its behavior detection program, known as the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) is objective or cost-effective.

  • TSA will continue ban on small knives

    The Transportation Security Administration, responding to pressure from lawmakers, flight attendants, and the public, has decided to abandon its plan to relax the prohibition on passengers carrying small knives on planes.

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  • DHS debars scanner maker from government contracts

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has sent OSI Systems, the manufacturer of airport body scanners, a debarment notice which would prevent the company from receiving government contacts in the future. The notice was sent to the company after TSA determined that the company had failed to address security concerns about its scanners.

  • FAA gave bonuses to employees while flights were delayed or canceled

    Internal FAA documents show that in early February, while passengers got stranded at airports across the country because sequester-mandated cuts in the FAA budget which led the agency to furlough air-traffic controllers, FAA employees received bonuses for their performance on the job.

  • Saudi man arrested at Detroit airport with two pressure cookers in luggage

    Hussain Al Khawahir, a Saudi citizen, was arrested Saturday at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after CBP agents found two pressure cookers in his luggage, and a page missing from his Saudi passport. He said he brought them for his nephew, a university student, because his nephew liked to cook lamb in a pressure cooker and U.S. pressure cookers were just not good enough.

  • FAA may allow use of electronic devices on flights

    The Federal Aviation Administration may announce by the end of the year that it would relax the rules for Kindles, iPads, and other e-readers. Lawmakers say that since the FAA allows iPads as flight manuals in the cockpit, and flight attendants use the devices for information on flight procedures, it makes no sense not to allow passengers to use the devices.

  • Terahertz technology helps to see more with less

    Terahertz technology is an emerging field which promises to improve a host of useful applications, ranging from passenger scanning at airports to huge digital data transfers. Terahertz radiation sits between the frequency bands of microwaves and infrared radiation, and it can easily penetrate many materials, including biological tissue. The energy carried by terahertz radiation is low enough to pose no risk to the subject or object under investigation.

  • FAA oversight of jetliner repair stations is ineffective

    The FAA oversees 4,800 jetliner repair stations worldwide – in countries such as China, New Zealand, Peru, and Singapore – where American commercial airplanes are being repaired. The Federal Aviation Administration’s own watchdog organization reported that the oversight of U.S. jetliner repair stations is ineffective and does not focus on stations which are most likely to present security risks.

  • Canada considered deporting train terror suspect – but he was stateless

    Raed Jaser, who is accused of planning an “al Qaeda supported” bomb attack aiming to derail a Canadian passenger train, was arrested nine years ago in Toronto and was facing deportation because he had a criminal record. Jaser is a Palestinian who grew up in the UAE. The UAE never gave his family a UAE citizenship, and they refused to take him back. The Canadian authorities say his case is not unique.

  • Typo delays signing FAA budget bill into law

    Typically, Congress, the country’s deliberative body, tends to take its time when it comes to legislation. This tendency was not in evidence when it came to rescheduling sequester-mandated cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) budget in order to allow air traffic controllers to work their full schedule without being furloughed. The president was supposed to sign the bill Friday – but in its rush to pass the measure, the version which was delivered to the White House contained a typo (an “s” was missing). The president will sign the bill today.

  • White House to take a second look at FAA furloughs

    The White House hinted Wednesday that it could accept legislation which would end Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) furloughs. Passengers have been in arms over lengthening flight delays and a growing number of flight cancellations, while GOP lawmakers accused the FAA of implementing the sequester-mandated budget cut in such a way so as to cause maximum inconvenience to passengers.