House Approves DHS Authorization Bill

ACI-NA Security Notice July 20, 2017
House Approves DHS Authorization Bill

The House today approved by a vote of 386-41 H.R. 2825, the DHS Authorization Act, a bill to update programs and offices throughout the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its component agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This is the first measure to reauthorize DHS programs since the department was created 15 years ago. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

The bill includes provisions to ensure that TSA continues to staff exits lanes, maintains 30 VIPR teams, reimburses airports for providing local law enforcement officers to support checkpoint screening operations, and continues the Innovation Task Force — all programs that ACI-NA successfully worked to protect after the Trump administration proposed reducing or eliminating them in its Fiscal Year 2018 budget request. ACI-NA also worked closely with the bill’s sponsors to clarify the bill’s requirements and minimize the operational impact of these provisions on airport operators.

As a reminder, a summary of the airport-related provisions in the bill can be found below:

  • TSA Administration and Acquisition
  • Adds the TSA Administrator to the roster of DHS officials and incorporates the position into the executive schedule.
  • Establishes an agency structure at TSA, including Office of the Administrator; Office of the Deputy Administrator; Office of Public Affairs; Office of Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, and Traveler Engagement; Office of Legislative Affairs; Office of Finance and Administration; Office of Chief of Operations; Office of Chief Mission Support; and Office of Chief Counsel.
  • Passenger Security and Screening
  • Establishes a pilot program for the biometric verification of the identity of individuals at PreCheck checkpoints.
  • Directs TSA to deploy at least 300 explosives detection canine teams dedicated to passenger screening in U.S. airports by the end of 2018.
  • Directs TSA to develop a staffing allocation model for passenger screening canines.
  • Requires DHS to establish a more effective process for addressing complaints from travelers who feel they were wrongly targeted for additional screening at airport security checkpoints.
  • Strengthens security standards for foreign airports with direct service to the United States.
  • Streamlines the application and agency review process for airports requesting participation in the Screening Partnership Program.
  • Authorizes $77 million for TSA to continue staffing exit lanes in Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018.
  • Authorizes $45 million for the LEO Reimbursement Program in Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018.
  • Formalizes the Innovation Task Force for TSA to collaborate with air carriers, airport operators, and other aviation security stakeholders to pursue innovations prior to the acquisition process.
  • Requires TSA to notify Congress of any changes to its Five-Year Technology Investment Plan for Aviation Security, and directs TSA to provide Congress annual updates on its plan.
  • Access Controls and Employee Vetting
  • Directs TSA to conduct – in consultation with the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) of which ACI-NA is a member – a cost and feasibility study of airports deploying new employee screening systems at all access points.
  • Directs TSA to work with airports, air carriers, and vendors to assess credentialing standards, policies, and practices to ensure that insider threats to aviation security are adequately addressed.
  • Requires airports to alter their SIDA applications by requesting a social security number and adding a disclaimer that badged employees are subject to screening at all times.
  • Requires that all credentialed aviation workers currently required to submit to fingerprint-based criminal record history check be continuously vetted through the FBI’s Rap Back Service.
  • Directs TSA to provide local airports and air carriers with the results and recommendations concerning covert testing of employee inspection operations conducted by the TSA.
  • Directs TSA to establish a national database of employees who have had either their airport or aircraft operator-issued badge revoked for failure to comply with aviation security requirements.
  • Declares DHS as the lead interagency coordinator pertaining to insider threat investigations and mitigation efforts at airports.
  • Perimeter Security
  • Requires TSA to update its Transportation Sector Security Risk Assessment (TSSRA) for aviation and to follow up with an update to the intelligence information contained in the Comprehensive Risk Assessment of Perimeter and Access Control Security.
  • Requires TSA to update the 2012 National Strategy for Airport Perimeter and Access Control Security.
  • Directs TSA to conduct a system-wide assessment of airport perimeter security and access control points.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Christopher R. Bidwell, Vice President, Security, at (202) 861-8081 or <a href="mailto:scusson, Director, Public Safety and Security, at (202) 293-4532.




“Facial Recognition May Boost Airport Security But Raises Privacy Worries”

Heard on All Things Considered By Asma Khalid National Public Radio (NPR)

Charles Camiel looks into the camera for a facial recognition test before boarding his JetBlue flight to Aruba at Logan International Airport in Boston.

Passengers at Boston’s Logan International Airport were surfing their phones and drinking coffee, waiting to board a flight to Aruba recently when a JetBlue agent came on the loudspeaker, announcing: “Today, we do have a unique way of boarding.”

On flights to the Caribbean island, JetBlue is experimenting with facial recognition software that acts as a boarding pass. The airline says it’s about convenience. For the federal government, it’s also about national security. But for privacy activists, it’s an intrusive form of surveillance.

This is the first trial between an airline and Customs and Border Protection to use facial recognition in place of boarding passes.

“The practical side of that is you will not need to show a boarding pass and you will not need to take your passport out because your face will be essentially your boarding pass,” says Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue’s executive vice president of customer experience.

Michelle Moynihan, who was flying to Aruba for a wedding, says facial recognition would make her life easier.

“Typically when I travel I have my three kids with me and I travel alone with them,” she says. “They’re all under age 10, so flipping through multiple boarding passes on my phone, making sure I have all the kids, all the backpacks, all the suitcases can be cumbersome and frustrating.”

Moynihan gets in line and right before she gets to the jet bridge, there’s a camera that’s about the size of a shoebox. It takes her photo and she gets a checkmark, saying she’s good to go.

The whole process takes about 5 to 6 seconds.

“We’re basically capturing that picture at the boarding gate and then providing it to U.S. Customs and Border protection,” says Sean Farrell, who works for SITA, the company running this technology. SITA provides a lot of the IT infrastructure you see at airports.

“It’s actually the U.S. government that’s implementing the biometric matching system,” he says.

The government uses existing databases to compare a traveler’s face against all the other passengers on the flight manifest.

JetBlue is pitching this idea of facial recognition as convenience for customers. It’s voluntary. But it’s also part of a broader push by Customs and Border Protection to create a biometric exit system to track non-U.S. citizens leaving the country.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, there was a lot of talk about the necessity of a biometric exit system, but the tech and computing power just wasn’t good enough. Now, facial recognition experts say it’s more accurate.

And Farrell sees a future — not too far off — where our faces could be our IDs.

“The end game is that in a few years’ time you’ll be able to go through the airport basically just using your face,” he says. “If you have bags to drop off, you’ll be able to use the self-service system and just have your face captured and matched. You’ll then go to security, the same thing. … And then you go to the boarding gate, and again just use your biometric.”

But that worries people like Adam Schwartz, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights group. He says facial recognition is a uniquely invasive form of surveillance.

“We can change our bank account numbers, we even can change our names, but we cannot change our faces,” Schwartz says. “And once the information is out there, it could be misused.”

Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, says she’s particularly concerned by the JetBlue program because of the government’s role.

“The biometric databases that the government is amassing are simply another tool, and a very powerful tool of government control,” she says.

Customs and Border Protection insists it will discard facial recognition photos taken of U.S. citizens at the airport, and only keep a database of non-U.S. citizens.

Back at Logan Airport, passenger Yeimy Quezada feels totally comfortable sharing her face instead of a barcode.

“Even your cellphone recognizes selfies and recognize faces, so I’m used to that technology already,” she says. “And, I’m not concerned about privacy because I’m a firm believer that if you’re not hiding anything, you shouldn’t be afraid of anything.”

Customs is running similar biometric tests at airports in Atlanta, New York and the Washington, D.C., area. The goal is to deploy facial recognition tech widely by early next year.

“Senate panel to reject Trump’s air traffic control plan in aviation bill”

By Melanie Zanona The Hill

A Senate panel has declined to include President Trump’s controversial proposal to separate air traffic control from the federal government in a must-pass aviation bill, according to the committee’s chairman.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who leads the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said the Senate’s long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will not include the spinoff plan, citing the lack of support for the idea on his panel.

Instead, Thune said the House will have to take the lead on efforts to transfer the country’s air navigation system to a private corporation.

“No, we don’t have the votes to pass that in our committee at the moment,” Thune told reporters on Tuesday. “We’ll see what the House is able to do and we’ll proceed accordingly. But if that issue were to get addressed, it would probably have to be on the floor in conference.”

Thune added that final touches are being added to the bill, with a committee markup likely to happen “next week.”

The FAA’s current legal authority expires at the end of September, and lawmakers in both chambers have been crafting separate long-term proposals to reauthorize the agency.

Earlier this year, Trump endorsed a plan that would put a nonprofit entity in charge of air traffic control operations as a way to speed up long-stalled modernization efforts. The FAA would maintain safety oversight, while the corporation would be in charge of operations and have the power to impose user fees.

But the idea received an icy reception from senators earlier this month, when GOP lawmakers raised concern over whether rural airports and general aviation users would be adequately protected and represented under the new model.

The spinoff proposal is generally more preferred by Republicans in the lower chamber, where the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is preparing to unveil a long-term FAA bill soon that will include spinoff language.

A similar proposal was included in the House’s long-term FAA reauthorization last year, but it stalled amid opposition from GOP tax-writers and appropriators, forcing lawmakers to instead enact a short-term patch.

Senators have warned that the same thing could happen again if they pursue the spinoff plan, especially with a packed calendar and few remaining legislative days before the FAA’s legal authority expires.

“With the administration’s support of this concept, the chances of getting a long-term FAA reauthorization in my view have now been diminished,” Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said earlier this month.

San Antonio Airport extends record streak as travel season approaches

San Antonio International Airport has hit the trifecta. In April, SAT experienced growth in passenger traffic, seat capacity and air cargo activity.
More than 737,000 ticketed travelers flew into or out of the North San Antonio terminals in April. That figure represents a 5.4 percent bump over the same month a year ago.

San Antonio International Airport continues to log a record number of passengers flying into and out of the Alamo City terminals.


San Antonio International Airport continues to log a record number of passengers flying… more

More impressive is the fact the airport has continued to attract larger passenger counts despite some of the disruptions caused by ongoing facility improvements, including work on a roughly $160 million consolidated rental car facility that will connect to both terminals.
San Antonio Aviation Director Russ Handy expects the recent addition of nonstop flights to Toronto via Air Canada, coupled with new service to Mexico City, Guadalajara and Cancun, will continue to drive up activity at SAT.
San Antonio Tourism Council President Marco Barros, who is in a runoff for the District 9 City Council seat, said the added international service is critical.
“It opens up and connects us with the rest of the world,” Barros told me.
SAT’s extra busy April follows a first quarter in which the airport attracted more than 2 million passengers. That was the largest first-quarter traffic count on record for the Alamo City facility.
In fact, SAT has now set new passenger records for 10 consecutive months. That could drive more debate about the city’s future airport needs.
A good deal of credit for the new flights and increased passenger activity goes to Brian Pratte, air services administrator for the city. He’s worked to identify airlines open to expanding service to and from San Antonio.
Previously, San Antonio officials relied on assistance from outside consultants to help navigate the pursuit of airlines and flights.
Barros said San Antonio is directly benefiting from having someone in Pratt’s role who can get Handy the timely intel he needs to “analyze the data” as airport officials continue to fine-tune their game plan.

USDOT announces $528M in airport improvement grants

  • AUTHOR Kim Slowey @kimslowey PUBLISHED June 5, 2017
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation will release $527.8 million in funding for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program.

  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the grants, which will be allocated across 584 airports for infrastructure improvements like runway repairs, lighting, fencing and marking.
  • Also included in the grant is discretionary funding for 38 airports where capital needs have exceeded existing funding amounts, which are determined according to each airport’s passenger traffic.


Dive Insight:

One of the largest discretionary grants, $60 million, will go toward adding a $649 million sixth runway at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Project officials said the new runway will provide the capacity equal to a third airport and create 6,000 jobs along the way. The runway should be ready for use in 2020.
Other major grants include $8 million for taxiway improvements at Columbia Metropolitan Airport in Columbia, SC, and $18 million for a temporary runway, lighting and navigational aids at Asheville Regional Airport in Asheville, NC. Grants will also be used for much smaller items, such as a $350,000 noise monitoring system at Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field in Boise, ID.
This latest FAA funding is sure to be welcome news for airport officials that are struggling to maintain their infrastructure. However, according to a recent Airports Council International—North America report, it would take about $100 billion over five years to make the necessary repairs and upgrades at the country’s airports.
The FAA’s AIP budget is about $3 billion annually, but that doesn’t include the giant terminal replacement and associated commercial expansion projects the industry has seen kick off in the last few years.
For instance, at Tampa International Airport, officials are underway with a $2.3 billion multiphase expansion. The $971 million first phase has started and includes retail, restaurants, a new people mover system and a new rental car facility.
The Hillsborough County (FL) Aviation Authority announced last week that it had approved the second phase of the project, which is projected to cost $543 million and will include 17 acres of commercial development around the airport, part of the authority’s plan to create long-term revenue streams to support airport operations. The third phase is estimated at $798 million and will see the construction of a 16-gate international and domestic terminal.

Recommended Reading:

FAA Awards Flagstaff Airport $7.8 Mil Grant To Restore Runway By Kathy Ritchie

The Federal Aviation Administration awarded Flagstaff airport a $7.8 million grant to restore the small hub’s more than 8,000-foot runway.
Allen Kenitzer is a spokesman with the FAA. He says the annual grants are given out based on need.
“In this case its restoring the structural integrity. Runways are thick, they’re generally made of concrete and they have to be built to a certain standard to handle certain aircraft,” Kenitzer said.
Work is scheduled to being this fall and should be completed in early 2018.

Cardiff Airport full emergency causes temporary airport closure

A flight inbound to Cardiff Airport with a full emergency this afternoon caused the airport to be closed for around an hour and prompted an armed response from Armed Police.
An Air Seychelles Shorts 360 (Image: File/ACP-Commonswiki) An Air Seychelles Shorts 360 (Image: File/ACP-Commonswiki)

The Shorts 360 aircraft, registration N914GD was en-route from Marrakech when the aircraft developed numerous problems including a suspected fluid leak prompting it to declare an emergency and divert to Cardiff Airport touching down just before 6pm.
Upon landing the aircraft held on the runway observed by a fire engine for around 10 minutes before turning onto the Golf taxiway to park and shut down.
Air Traffic Control was then unable to communicate with the aircraft, possibly due to the fact they had shut down the aircraft, which meant armed officers were sent out to surround the aircraft and get the crew to disembark in a safe manner.
This was carried out promptly by armed Police officers who, after an inspection of the aircraft and crew, declared the area safe.
During this time the runway was closed in order to ensure the runway was safe to use as the crew had reported a fluid leak. This meant 2 Flybe and 1 Eastern Airways flights had to hold above the airport for some time. An Iberia A340 was also due to depart taking Real Madrid fans home.
After about an hour the runway had been checked and the airport resumed normal operations.
The Shorts 360 N914GD was believed to be en-route to the USA from Marrakech and wears full Air Seychelles livery.
A spokesperson for Cardiff Airport said “At 1758 a full emergency was declared by a private aircraft and as per protocol, the Airport Fire and Rescue Service and local emergency services responded.
The aircraft landed safely with no further issues reported. The runway reopened at 1853 with minimal disruption to scheduled flights.
The safety and security of the Airport team and passengers remains the number one priority.”

82-year-old arrested at airport says she was wrong but police overreacted

JUNE 02, 2017 2:34 PM

Lila Mae Bryan said she always packs a bottle of foaming hand soap in her carry-on suitcase when she flies because she doesn’t like the bar soap hotels usually provide their guests.
Bryan, 82, and her husband, Silas, 85, have flown around the country, she said, and no one checking luggage at the airports has ever told her that she couldn’t take her roughly 8-ounce bottle on the plane.
So she was surprised this week — and admittedly annoyed, she said — when a Transportation Security Administration officer doing a routine check of her carry-on bag at Eisenhower National Airport in Wichita pulled out her beloved bottle of soap and told her it wasn’t allowed on the flight.
What happened next, Bryan said, she now wishes she could undo: She shouted her frustration at the officer then stormed around into his workspace and, authorities say, struck him on the arm.

Bryan was later booked into the Sedgwick County Jail and given a citation alleging she committed a misdemeanor battery against the 37-year-old officer. As of Friday, Wichita city prosecutors had not decided whether they will pursue the criminal charge.

The scuffle happened at 5:12 a.m. Wednesday. Bryan was jailed three hours after the alleged battery.
“I know I was wrong,” Bryan said, reached by phone at her Mesquite, Texas, home on Friday afternoon.
Exhaustion, she said, and not having taken medication she’s prescribed for bipolar disorder — coupled with what she feels is an inadequate explanation from the officer about why the soap was forbidden — caused her negative reaction.
“I just got so angry that he was treating me this way,” she said.
“If I had to do it over again, I’d just have said, ‘Take it and throw it away.’ … I probably would’ve said something. But it wouldn’t have been nasty.”
Law enforcement and TSA reports say Bryan became upset and verbally abusive after she was told repeatedly she couldn’t take the soap onto the plane in her carry-on bag because it exceeded the 3.4-ounce size limit. Airport police detained her and authorized her arrest.
Bryan hit the officer’s “right arm with a closed fist,” a law enforcement report says. Bryan says she doesn’t remember striking the officer but was told she did so by witnesses.
In a statement e-mailed Friday afternoon, TSA spokeswoman Carrie Harmon said the TSA officers at the scene “were professional and courteous in advising the passenger that the item is not allowed through the security checkpoint. The passenger escalated the situation and went behind the x-ray machine where she assaulted our officer.”
“We make every effort to provide a smooth screening experience and do so daily while screening millions of passengers. TSA officers’ primary goal is to keep travelers safe and secure,” Harmon said in the statement. “Threatening, assaulting, intimidating, or interfering with officers while they are performing screening duties is a violation of TSA security regulations, may constitute criminal conduct, and interferes with their ability to effectively protect the public.”
The TSA officer did not have any visible injuries, according to law enforcement reports.
“I wanted to apologize afterward, but they (airport police) wouldn’t let me” after being detained, Bryan said.

She said the airport police officer told her she would be booked into jail instead. This was her first arrest.
“I think it was probably an overreaction,” she said.
Bryan said she was handcuffed while law enforcement transported her from the airport to the jail. After she arrived, she spent nearly two hours in the jail’s booking area and was photographed and fingerprinted before being freed.
Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said Thursday that after the airline Bryan and her husband were set to fly on contacted his office about her arrest, his staff went to the jail and authorized her immediate release. She did not have to post any bond.
Southwest Airlines arranged for Bryan’s husband to be taken to the Sedgwick County Courthouse, where he was reunited with his wife. The airline then returned the couple to the airport, where they boarded a later flight back home.
Wichita City Attorney and Director of Law Jennifer Magana said Friday that her office is still reviewing the allegations against Bryan and could make a decision about whether to pursue prosecution of the battery charge next week.
Bryan said she and her husband were in Kansas to attend her 65-year high school reunion in Beloit and to check on a new tenant that operates a farm she owns in the area. She said when she flew into Wichita from Dallas she had the bottle of soap that caused the stir in her carry-on bag.
Surveillance video of the incident viewed by The Eagle on Friday morning shows Bryan confronting the TSA officer after he removes the bottle from a suitcase and places it on a table. In the video — which does not include audio — she pounds a fist in her palm and points at the officer before grabbing a purse and what appears to be paperwork and walking around an X-ray screening belt into the officer’s work area.
Bryan, in the video, appears to ignore commands directing her to return to the public area. She approaches the officer and appears to make physical contact with him, before another TSA officer intervenes.
After she is separated from the TSA officer and is no longer involved in a physical altercation, an airport police officer steps up, grabs her arm and yanks her away from the work area, the video shows.
A request for comment from the airport police and fire department about the police officer’s interaction with the woman was referred to the city’s law department. Magana could not be reached for comment on that issue late Friday afternoon.
TSA officials had scheduled a news conference Friday afternoon at the airport to release the video of the incident. They later canceled the event and refused to release the video, saying in an e-mail: “We had planned to respect the passenger’s privacy by not releasing her name and blurring her face. But her name and picture have appeared in the media, and we don’t feel it’s appropriate to release the video now that she’s been identified.”