- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2001

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Airlines should begin installing stronger cockpit doors within 30 days and pilots, flight attendants and other crew members should get new security training within six months, a Transportation Department task force is recommending.
The task force on improving airplane security submitted its report to Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta yesterday. A copy was obtained by the Associated Press.
A separate task force on improving security at airports, which submitted its recommendations to Mr. Mineta on Monday, called for a new federal security agency to handle the job.
The task forces, comprising representatives of aviation unions and the airline industry, were named to make recommendations on improving security in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, where hijackers commandeered four commercial airliners.
To deal with a future attack, the airplane task force recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration, the airline industry and the pilots unions develop procedures within 30 days that could be used to help thwart a hijacking. Such procedures could include depressurizing the cabin or a rapid descent of the airplane.
In addition, the government and industry should take steps to ensure that an airplane will continuously transmit a hijack signal, even if the plane's transponder is turned off, the task force said.
Meanwhile, Congress is near agreement on legislation sought by President Bush to make aircraft and airports safer in the wake of the attacks.
The last big question to be resolved was whether airport screeners should come under federal supervision, as advocated by the White House and House Republicans, or become federal employees, the favored idea in the Senate.
Both chambers were seeking common ground in the hopes of approving aviation-security legislation by the end of the week. The bill would be the third major congressional action in response to the hijackings. Lawmakers also passed a $40 billion emergency-spending bill and a $15 billion airline-relief package.
The final product is likely to fund or incorporate many of the ideas proposed by Mr. Bush last week, including increasing the number of air marshals in planes, fortifying cockpit doors, installing new security equipment in planes, deploying the National Guard at airports and expanding the federal role in screening procedures.
Several agencies are contributing law enforcement personnel to temporarily serve as air marshals, including some Coast Guard Investigative Service special agents.
But House Democrats, and a bipartisan group in the Senate Commerce Committee, have pushed for the federalization of airport screeners. They argue that even with federal supervision, it's not appropriate to have privately contracted screeners who tend to be poorly paid and have high turnover rates. Many Republicans have objected to creating a new federal bureaucracy.
House Republicans are crafting a bill that largely follows the lead of the president, creating a new transportation security agency at the Transportation Department to oversee rail and port as well as airport security. Screeners still would come from the private sector, but an oversight board, headed by a someone from the intelligence community, would be appointed to ensure that security standards were upheld.
There also was movement in both chambers toward imposing a passenger fee to help pay for the new security measures. The original Senate bill called for a $1 per passenger security tax, and negotiators were looking at some combination of passenger fees, federal funding and contributions from the airlines.

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