U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta today announced further enhancements to the security and efficiency of the U.S. aviation system including the beginning of a new training program for passenger screeners the deployment of the nation's first fully federalized team of federal screening personnel at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) and the deployment of thousands of explosive detection systems to screen all passenger bags by the end of this year.
"In his State of the Union address President Bush established three goals for America: winning the war against terrorism both at home and abroad; protecting our homeland against future attacks; and reviving the American economy " Secretary Mineta said in remarks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Cargo Summit in Washington. "I am proud to say that the Department of Transportation and our new Transportation Security Administration play important roles in meeting all three of the President's goals."
Secretary Mineta announced that the DOT's Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has awarded a contract of $105 million to Lockheed Martin Services to begin the training of the airport security screening force. Under the contract each screener will receive a minimum of 40 hours of classroom training five times the amount they received under the previous system. Screeners also will receive 60 hours of on-the-job training and will have to pass a tough final examination as a requirement for graduation.
Secretary Mineta announced additional measures to enhance aviation safety including the full federalization of the security screener workforce at BWI. Under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act all airport security screeners must be federal employees by Nov. 19 and BWI will be the first U.S. airport at which this requirement is implemented. In addition the Secretary said that the TSA will deploy up to 1 100 explosive detection systems and up to 4 700 explosive trace detection machines at the nation's 429 airports to screen all bags for explosives by Dec. 31 2002 as mandated by Congress.
In addition the Secretary announced that the remaining restrictions on commercial flights at Reagan National Airport would be lifted on April 27 which will restore pre-Sept. 11 hours of operation allow larger aircraft to resume service and permit planes to fly the "river approach" to reduce noise impacts on surrounding neighborhoods.
The Secretary's speech is available on the Internet at www.dot.gov/affairs/briefing.htm.