Young seeks higher security on board airliners

Posted: Sunday, September 16, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- New airline security measures should include air marshals on every flight, surveillance cameras in the cockpit and the passenger cabin, and more secure doors between them, according to U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska.

''We expect before this is over there will be two marshals on every airplane. And the pilot or co-pilot is not to leave the cockpit regardless of what happens,'' said Young, chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

Airline travel, grounded Tuesday after four hijackings and crashes, resumed Thursday with new security procedures. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta ordered new rules that end curbside baggage checks, bar all but ticketed passengers from the gate area and prohibit passengers from boarding with pocketknives or cutting tools of any size.

Speaking to Alaska reporters in Washington, D.C., Young on Friday said Mineta was right to allow the airliners back when he did.

''I believe if we were not to put the planes in the air it would allow the terrorists to win,'' said Young, whose committee oversees the Federal Aviation Administration.

But he said the pocketknife ban is ''sort of ridiculous.'' So many things, including the earpieces of his own metal-frame glasses, can be turned into a sharp and deadly instrument, he said.

Young's recommendations are not new. The National Transportation Safety Board last year called for cameras in the cockpit to record who was at the controls at the time of a crash and to determine whether pilot error was to blame. It would, some have argued, have helped determine whether the pilot of an EgyptAir flight intentionally crashed his airliner into the Atlantic Ocean in 1999 as an act of suicide.

Pilot organizations objected to the camera proposal, saying the tapes would record pilots' final moments, creating a macabre violation of privacy that would haunt their survivors.

Representatives of the Air Line Pilots Association said cameras in the passenger cabins, on the other hand, could be useful in deterring air rage.

Young said cockpit cameras should send images to controllers on the ground so they can watch for problems.

He said he understands the pilots' concerns.

''But this goes far beyond individual privacy on their job,'' he said.

In the past, airline companies have been divided over cockpit cameras, said Diana Cronan, spokeswoman for the Air Transport Association of America.

Her group has endorsed expanding the air marshal program. Air marshals are armed federal agents who board flights pretending to be ordinary passengers. They travel on flights deemed to have a high risk of hijackings.

The FAA, citing security, does not say how many marshals it has.

Young said the government should bear the cost of additional marshals.

''It's going to be paid for by the taxpayers,'' he said. ''This is a security issue. This is a war. Keep that in mind. This is no longer business as usual.''

Armed marshals were placed aboard flights in the 1970s to stop hijackings to Cuba.

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