Aviation Safety Steps

September 6, 1996

Aviation Safety Steps

Yesterday the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security announced its first recommendations on the future of airport safety. Vice President Gore, the commission's chairman, said the administration would make a $300 million request to Congress for bomb detection machinery. He also authorized the National Transportation Safety Board to serve as the main coordinating agency after airline crashes. In taking these steps, the Vice President cited the TWA Flight 800 disaster, plans by the defendants in the World Trade Center bombing to attack aircraft, and ongoing problems with Iraq as evidence of the need for action on this issue.

Gore's announcement marks the first time the federal government has taken primary responsibility for flight safety, rather than relying on airlines. Previous federal efforts to increase the safety of fliers have often run into opposition from an airline industry wary of the cost of such measures.

These announcements are just the beginning of a stream of announcements likely to come from the commission in the coming months. And on Capitol Hill, both the House and Senate are both likely to begin considering airline safety measures this fall.

Other options that the commission is considering include:

  • Preventing the take-off of domestic flights on which passengers have checked bags but have failed to board;
  • increased government scrutiny of airport personnel, including training and evaluation programs and background checks;
  • the creation of comprehensive databases for the tracking and evaluation of passengers as potential threats to safety;
  • increased use of bomb-detection dogs.
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