- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2002

Federal transportation officials are setting up a pilot program for airlines to match bags with passengers on connecting flights.
If the tests show that the bag matching can be done without delaying flights, it could be required for all passengers who change planes.
Under federal law, all checked bags must be either screened for explosives or not loaded on a plane unless the passenger also boards. But if a passenger changes planes, the airline does not have to make sure that the traveler boards the second flight before moving the bags.
"We're looking to improve continually the tools that we have in place," Deputy Transportation Secretary Michael Jackson said.
John Magaw, the new undersecretary for transportation security, told the Senate Commerce Committee that the department was working with the airlines to develop a pilot program for matching bags with passengers on connecting flights.
When the Transportation Department first announced that airlines would meet the Jan. 18 deadline for inspecting checked bags, some lawmakers and airline security specialists criticized the government for not requiring bag matching on connecting flights. Rep. James L. Oberstar of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the House Transportation Committee, called it "an Achilles' heel in the security system."
Transportation Department Inspector General Kenneth Mead also recommended a pilot program for passenger-bag matches on connecting flights.
"The airlines have expressed concerns that positive bag match on connecting flights would cause a logistical nightmare and could cause serious disruption at their hub airports," Mr. Mead said. "We have not seen evidence to support their concern that positive bag match cannot be done, [although] there may be some circumstances where it is not practical to do so."
Under the airline security law, all checked bags are to be screened by explosive detection machines by the end of the year. Mr. Jackson said the Transportation Department was ready to order 200 new machines from L-3 Communications and InVision Technologies, and expected to certify a third manufacturer, Perkin-Elmer Detection Systems, whose equipment is used at British airports.
"We have made a very significant step forward," Mr. Jackson said. "We'll hit the end-of-the-year target."

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