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Leslie Bonacum
Neil Allen

CCH Journal Delivers Expert’s View Of Steps Needed To Protect Commercial Aircraft From Terrorist Attack

(RIVERWOODS, ILL., October 9, 2001) – While the initial reaction to the September 11 terrorist attacks is to try to determine precisely who is to blame for failed airport and aircraft security, the fact is the system is full of shortcomings, according to noted aviation analyst John Nance, writing for a special report in Issues in Aviation Law and Policy (IALP), a journal published by CCH INCORPORATED (CCH).

"The principal systemic reason our airline security ‘system’ failed us on September 11 is that we built it to screen out a designer enemy, one willing to conform to our expectations and beliefs as to the nature and level of threat," said Nance.

The IALP report, "Denial of Access: Hardening Our Defenses Against Terrorist Manipulations of Commercial Aircraft," details the procedural, philosophical and legal changes that need to be made in three principal security areas: airport passenger screening, airborne aircraft security and aircrew identification security.

"John’s perspective, based on his experience as both a commercial aircraft pilot and an aviation analyst, provides a realistic, thought-provoking analysis of feasible, system-wide changes that need to be considered," said CCH Aviation Law Group and Issues in Aviation Law and Policy Managing Editor Christine Graf.

Among the steps detailed in the report is federalizing airport screening through congressional funding and creation of a federal security force of trained law enforcement officers who have at least the same stature as that of U.S. Customs Service officers.

"What we have done for thirty years is a terrible failure," Nance explains, adding that it was based on "unacceptably incompetent workers engaged in running a substandard substitute for a professional system, one that fell so far short of its intended function that acceptance of the screening system as a norm became, in effect, an inadvertent fraud on the security of the flying public."

Significantly improving the physical security of commercial aircraft also is essential.

"Indeed to restore public confidence in the safety of our airline system, we must be able to permanently assure that no one can force his way into a cockpit and take over an airliner, regardless of what’s happening in the passenger cabin," according to the report.

Among the steps detailed to fortify aircraft security are: impenetrable cockpit doors, replacement of cockpit keys with electronic coders, cabin emergency alert systems and video surveillance systems that allow pilots to monitor the cabin.

"The ability to see what is happening in the cabin can make all the difference in defending the cockpit and the aircraft, and in giving the pilots enough advance notice to use flight maneuvers, depressurization or other methods to stabilize the situation," Nance explains.

The report also covers the more controversial topics of arming pilots and training flight crews in hand-to-hand combat.

The final focus of the report is on aircrew identification security. Nance recommends a uniform national system replace the current hodge-podge of different security procedures, badges and background checks based on the differing requirements of the various airport, airline and support vendors.

The IALP report explains what would be required in developing unified background security checks and a unified system of identification for all personnel having contact with commercial aircraft.

While the report details many of the steps that need to be considered, Nance also cautions that policymakers must take a balanced approach.

"The framers of these changes must be acutely aware that, while the American public will accept massive inconveniences in the short term, the future of a robust U.S. airline industry’s ability to maintain capacity at, or near, previous levels of demand depends on a difficult balance between passengers feeling safe on one hand, and, on the other, passengers determining that the time, trouble and expense required to use the system is sufficiently user-friendly to justify their patronage," he said.

About Issues in Aviation Law and Policy

Launched in Spring 2001 by the CCH Business and Finance Group, Issues in Aviation Law and Policy provides sophisticated discussion of issues affecting and influencing the future of business, government and social policy in civil aviation worldwide. An annual subscription to the loose-leaf journal with semi-annual updates is $220, plus applicable tax, shipping and handling.

The 25-page special report "Denial of Access: Hardening Our Defenses Against Terrorist Manipulation of Commercial Aircraft" also can be purchased separately for $9.95, plus applicable tax, shipping and handling. For more information, or to order, call 800-449-6435 or visit


CCH INCORPORATED, founded in 1913, has served four generations of business professionals and their clients. The company produces approximately 900 print and electronic products for tax, legal, securities, human resources, health care and small business markets. CCH is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wolters Kluwer North America. The CCH web site can be accessed at The CCH Business and Finance Group web site can be accessed at

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