WASHINGTON – A proposal offered by Senator Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., to improve airport and airplane security through better technological screening of passengers, carry-on luggage and checked bags cleared the Senate late Thursday.
The amendment has three primary goals: to expand the use of current security technologies and procedures; to improve upon and upgrade existing technologies and procedures; and to fund the research and development of better, more cost-effective technologies.
?Ultimately, the long-term recovery of air commerce will require nothing less than developing ironclad confidence in the safety of our airports and air carriers,? Lieberman said. ?My amendment is a first step toward that goal.?
The amendment was adopted by unanimous consent to the Airport Security Act, which cleared the Senate later in the day. The amendment was co-sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin, D-Ill.
Among the amendment provisions:
9To ensure that those working in and around airports pose no security threats, airports and air carriers would be required to conduct intensive background checks on all personnel at commercial airports who have not undergone such checks in the past five years. This includes FBI criminal checks.
9The Federal Aviation Administration would be called on to expand the use of bulk explosive detection technology, so that it is used more effectively and more often.
9Airline carriers would be required to increase the number of checked bags that are positively matched with a boarded passenger until airports are scanning all bags loaded onto a plane for explosives detection.
9Passengers identified by the Computer-Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System, now in widespread use, would have to undergo additional security checks of their persons and carry-on luggage.
9The Department of Transportation would be asked to recommend additional ways to prevent unauthorized access to restricted airport areas, for example, through the use of biometrics systems.
9For research and development into new technologies to improve aviation safety, the amendment sets aside $50 million. An addition $10 million is authorized to implement upgrades that result from the R&D, and another $20 million is earmarked for long-term security improvements.