REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE

TUESDAY, January 21, 2003

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence

has the honour to table its

FIFTH REPORT


Your Committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Wednesday, October 30, 2002, to examine and report on the need for national security policy for Canada, now tables its interim report entitled The Myth of Security at Canada's Airports.

Respectfully submitted,

COLIN KENNY
Chair  


The Myth of Security at Canada’s Airports

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence

Committee Members
Sen. Colin Kenny – Chair
Sen. J. Michael Forrestall – Deputy Chair
Sen. Norman K. AtkinsSen. Tommy Banks
Sen. Jane Cordy
Sen. Joseph A. Day
Sen. Michael A. Meighen
Sen. David P. Smith
Sen. John (Jack) Wiebe

Second Session-Thirty-Seventh Parliament

January 2003


MEMBERSHIP

37th Parliament – 2nd Session 

STANDING COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL SECURITY AND DEFENCE 

The Honourable Colin Kenny, Chair
The Honourable J. Michael Forrestall, Deputy Chair 

And 

The Honourable Senators:

Atkins
Banks
Cordy
Day
Meighen
Smith, P.C.
Wiebe 

*Carstairs, P.C. (or Robichaud, P.C.)
*Lynch-Staunton (or Kinsella)

*Ex Officio Members


TABLE OF CONTENTS

PLASTIC KNIVES DON'T CUT IT

SYMBOLISM AND REALITY

IS YOUR MONEY BEING WISELY INVESTED?

OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND

LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS

CANADIANS SHOULD KNOW WHAT THE BAD GUYS KNOW

I. TRAINING AIR CREW, IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS OFFICIALS, AND MAINTENANCE STAFF TO DEAL WITH POTENTIAL THREATS
    IS WHAT YOU SEE WHAT YOU GET?
    CREWS WANT TRAINING, NOT A WING AND A PRAYER
    TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEMS OUTLINED IN SECTION I, 
    THE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS:

II. IMPROVING IN-FLIGHT SECURITY
    INFORMED FLIGHT CREWS
    THE WHOLE TEAM MUST KNOW
    LET'S ROLL TOGETHER
    SECURING COCKPIT DOORS
    TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEMS OUTLINED IN SECTION II, 
    THE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS:

III. DEALING WITH POTENTIAL THREATS CONCEALED IN CHECKED BAGGAGE, PARCELS AND MAIL
    CHECKED BAGGAGE
    SNIFFING OUT TROUBLE
    CANADA TWO YEARS BEHIND
    MAIL AND PACKAGES
    WHY SHOULD MAIL BE EXEMPT?
    TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEMS OUTLINED IN SECTION III, 
    THE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS:

IV. DEALING WITH THE THREAT OF UNDERCOVER TERRORISTS OPERATING INSIDE A TERMINAL
    GOOD APPLES AND BAD
    FRONT TIGHT, BACK SLACK
    HOW SECURITY CHECKS WORK. SOMETIMES.
    HAIL MARY PASSES
    IS THIS A SECURITY CULTURE?
    "RANDOM" MEANS WILLY-NILLY
    TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEMS OUTLINED IN SECTION IV, 
    THE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS:

V. DEALING WITH THE THREAT OF SUBVERSIVES OPERATING FROM THE OUTSKIRTS OF THE AIRPORT 
    AIRPORT NEIGHBOURS WITH NEIGHBOURLY
    ACCESS TO RAMPS AND RUNWAYS
    PRIVATE AIRCRAFT
    MAIL CARRIERS, FREIGHT FORWARDERS
    TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEMS OUTLINED IN SECTION V, 
    THE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS:

VI. DEALING WITH THE THREAT OF TERRORISTS ATTACKING AIRCRAFT FROM BEYOND
    THE PERIMETER OF AN AIRPORT

VII. IMPROVING AIRPORT POLICING
    THREATS GROW, POLICE SHRINK
    ONE FORCE FOR AIRPORT SECURITY?
    TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEMS OUTLINED IN SECTION VII, 
    THE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS:

VIII. IMPROVING THE GOVERNANCE OF CANADA'S AIRWAYS
    THE SHELL GAME
    THE ROLE OF CATSA
    THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CATSA AND TRANSPORT CANADA
    TURF WARS OVER SECURITY
    TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEMS OUTLINED IN SECTION VIII, 
    THE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS:

IX. ASSURING FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY
    WHAT ARE LOCAL AIRPORT AUTHORITIES SPENDING ON SECURITY?
    TO DEAL WITH THE ISSUES RAISED IN SECTION IX, 
    THE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS:

X. THE NEED FOR A NEW TRANSPARENCY 
    RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT IS PREDICATED ON THE PUBLIC'S RIGHT TO KNOW
    HONEST PEOPLE CAME FORWARD
    TO DEAL WITH THE ISSUES RAISED IN SECTION X, 
    THE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS:

RECOMMENDATIONS
    ORDER OF REFERENCE
    WHO THE COMMITTEE HEARD FROM
    WHO WE SAW AND WHAT WE HEARD
    SECURITY IMPROVEMENTS
    SECURITY RESPONSIBILITIES AT PEARSON AIRPORT
    GREATER TORONTO AIRPORT AUTHORITY
    LEGAL OPINIONS PROVIDED TO THE COMMITTEE
    PEEL REGIONAL POLICE SERVICE
    EXHIBITS
    STATISTICS
    MEDIA ACTIVITIES
    BIOGRAPHIES OF MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE
    BIOGRAPHIES OF COMMITTEE SECRETARIAT


“You take away a hat pin, you take away some nail clippers, and everybody leaves the airport saying “Oh, isn’t that wonderful, they are so zealous . . . we don’t have to worry. And it is all nonsense. Absolute nonsense.”

Aviation Company Owner  

 

“The current status of airport security is not very good. I could take anyone in this room in two minutes and train you on how to put a bomb on an airplane for any city in the world. If you are willing to pay the first-duty shipping fee, we can guarantee what flight you will be on – it is that wide open.” 

Chuck Wilmink
Former Corporate Security Manager, Canadian Airlines

Plastic Knives Don’t Cut It 

Lack of security at American airports clearly abetted the tragic disasters of September 11, 2001.  It was therefore not surprising that those events triggered a new era of avowed vigilance in the North American air travel industry. A crackdown certainly made good sense, given that the threat of more horrific assaults on the United States and its allies is unlikely to disappear anytime soon. While it may be true that would-be terrorists will now divert their attention to alternate North American targets like power supplies, water supplies and the Internet, it would be foolish to gamble that one of our greatest vulnerabilities – our airways – will not be targeted again. 

In the weeks of trauma that followed September 11, responses at Canadian airports and on Canadian flights were predictable. Lineups lengthened at check-in and security counters after airline employees were ordered to be more zealous in scrutinizing both passengers and their belongings. Those three opening questions became more insistent:

“Did you pack your own luggage? 

Do you know what is in it?  

Was it ever out of your sight?” 

Passengers on tour groups whose bags had languished in hotel lobbies for hours blithely fib in replying every day. Who wants to jeopardize their flights? 

Items as innocuous as nail clippers and Remembrance Day poppies were confiscated. Some early Air Canada flights featured metal forks and no knives, soon to be followed by metal forks and plastic knives.

 

Symbolism and Reality 

Some of these gestures were more symbolic than useful. The metal forks clearly had more potential as weapons than the dull metal knives, so it didn’t surprise many people when the Minister of Transport said that metal knives could be returned to service last November.  American authorities abandoned the three famous questions after it became apparent that it was hard to find an ordinary passenger unwilling to fib, although as this report went to print they were still being asked in Canada. 

Tougher scrutiny at check-in counters and security gates was sometimes useful, sometimes frivolous, but always a visible manifestation of the federal government’s determination to make Canada’s airports and aircraft safer places for Canadians. Even the sillier components were a reminder to the flying public that the $24 per round trip they were being charged to fund the government’s $2.1 billion, five-year air security initiative for improvements to security was money well spent.

 

Is Your Money Being Wisely Invested? 

But has it been money well spent? Is this forced investment by Canada’s air travellers creating a significantly safer system of air travel?  There doesn’t seem much doubt that it is creating a system that is at least a bit safer. If an airport security officer spends two minutes checking a passenger’s carry-on baggage rather than 30 seconds, sooner or later that extra scrutiny could pay off. But there are 40 million departures at Canadian airports annually. Air travellers in Canada are charged $12 a takeoff for improved security measures. That’s $480 million – nearly half a billion dollars a year. There are two questions to be asked here: 

Are Canadian air travellers getting good value for their money? 

Should Canadian air travellers feel comfortable that the new security measures that they are paying for are making air travel in Canada significantly more secure than it was before September 11, 2001? 

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence set out to answer those questions in a series of hearings and inspections that began more than a year ago.  Our conclusions, after this year-long investigation, are, to say the least, unsettling. 

We believe that a handful of useful security improvements have already been implemented (see Appendix IV). But these do not come close to the improvements that the Committee believes should be made, at a much faster pace than authorities have demonstrated over the 16 months that have passed since September 11. Essentially, the Committee sees the front door of air security as now being fairly well secured, with the side and back doors wide open. 

We have made a series of recommendations. We believe that these recommendations, if implemented, would speed the process of making Canadian air travel a significantly less risky business.

 

Out of Sight, Out of Mind 

The federal government and Canada’s air industry have focused on introducing measures to toughen security that are highly visible to the travelling public – more vigilant screening of hand luggage, questions as to whether luggage could have been tampered with, requirements that passengers accompany their luggage on flights, and so on.  

These measures have reassured many travellers that security has been tightened at Canadian airports since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The problem is that there has been little or no improvement to huge security gaps that persist behind the scenes in the Canadian travel industry. 

These include: 

 

Loose Lips Sink Ships 

The Committee has been criticized for calling witnesses that have shared knowledge of these breaches with the Canadian public. One invited witness – Mr. Louis Turpen, head of the Toronto Airport Authority – actually refused to appear before the Committee, scolding us that “Loose Lips Sink Ships.” That is a wartime expression that made a reasonable point when Canada was at war: anything a Canadian says that might inform the enemy about Canada’s military weaknesses could compromise our country’s security. 

The Committee wishes to make two points here. The first is that, while much of the information we solicited from witnesses is not nearly well enough known to Canadian travellers, it is no secret to anyone who works in and around airports. And it is certainly no secret to people looking for ways to undermine security at our airports, be they terrorists or the many members of organized crime who take advantage of flaws in air travel systems for their own lucrative advantage. The kind of unsettling testimony we heard is available at coffee shops anywhere near a Canadian airport. Occasionally they show up in newspaper reports that point out the relative ease with which people designated to test security systems are able to circumvent them with fake guns, knives and explosives. 

Our second point is that if “insiders” and the friends of insiders know what the flaws are, so should ordinary Canadians. The North American auto industry did virtually nothing to improve the safety of the family car until Ralph Nader came along. The Canadian emergency blood system was run with demonstrated lack of concern for public safety until the public found out about it, and reforms were introduced.  

The profit motive combined with bureaucratic inertia leaves all kinds of huge problems unsolved until the public gets its back up, and applies enough pressure to politicians and officials to get them solved. 

In short, the Committee refuses to be complicit in a cover-up. Loose lips are unlikely to sink ships when anyone who takes the time to scrutinize security systems at airports – and terrorists do take the time – quickly sees glaring holes. Furthermore, Committee members were not asking witnesses questions like “what is the code to get through a secure door?”  We were asking for assurances that secure doors are locked. 

Our basic premise:  You can be sure that ships really will sink if they have a lot holes in them. And those holes aren’t likely to get patched unless the public applies pressure to get the job done. They certainly aren’t patched yet. 

The Committee recognizes the need to balance the public’s right to know against the interests of national security. But unreasonable secrecy acts against national security. It shields incompetence and inaction, at a time that competence and action are both badly needed. The Parliament of Canada Act designates Parliament as the primary agent in providing Canadians with good, balanced government. The Committee sees itself as helping to perform this role on behalf of all Canadians, and considered the resistance of some people who chose to hide behind a false wall to be most inappropriate. 

 

Canadians Should Know

What the Bad Guys Know

Will the Committee be successful in speeding reform? So far, so good. Early in our hearings, when asked why airside workers were not searched like passengers or flight crews, one witness from Transport Canada told us that having a relationship of “trust” with these workers was much more important than determining whether any of them might have weapons in their tool kits or lunch buckets.  

That tone changed as the weeks went on. Toward the end of our hearings, after coverage of some of the Committee’s exchanges in the media, the Minister of Transport announced that the new Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) would take on responsibility for randomly searching airline workers and improving the lax system of security checks that now prevails in their workplace.  

Random checks are not enough (a point that we will discuss later in this report). However, Committee members were pleased to see at least some vestige of progress after so much painful inertia. 

Our hearings have encouraged admissions that the system as it stands is not adequate, and they have encouraged promises of corrections to several key areas. The problem is that, to date, these promises fall short of addressing the dangers at hand.  

Furthermore, implementation remains painstakingly slow. We would like less window-dressing, more attention to real weaknesses, and a much more lively set of responses to a potentially deadly set of problems.


I.  Training Air Crew, Immigration and Customs Officials, and Maintenance Staff to Deal with Potential Threats  

It must be emphasized that while several of the recommendations of this report are designed to guard against threats from corrupted “workers” – either real or fake employees – who might abuse their position of trust in and around airports to sabotage aircraft, in reality the tens of thousands of legitimate workers are far more likely to be part of the solution to airport security problems than a threat.  

Electronic and biometric safeguards only constitute a small part of any strong security system. In fact, there is an argument to be made that over-dependence on technology can instill a false sense of confidence in any security system, because smart people will eventually figure out how to circumvent even the most sophisticated technology, which is why it keeps having to be upgraded. 

Security is much more than technology. It is an attitude, a culture. People – passengers and air industry workers – are at the heart of Canadian air security. The overwhelming majority of people who work at Canada’s airports are honest, caring and vigilant people. Screeners at security counters, in recent years contracted by airlines, have been notoriously undertrained, underpaid, and have worked unreasonably long shifts at scanning monitors, making them too bleary-eyed to be effective.

The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority wisely made new training for these employees its first priority. That training got underway in 2002 and continues. CATSA took over responsibility for screening employees at the end of 2002, and has promised that wages will increase from around the minimum wage level to an average of around $11 an hour (depending on location) very quickly.

  

Is What You See What You Get? 

Retraining of passenger screeners is one of many areas in which the focus has been on dealing with visible flaws to the system, while neglecting security behind the scenes. Why upgrade training for hand baggage screeners, but not for maintenance workers? Maintenance workers are asked to be vigilant around aircraft that they are fuelling, fixing and grooming, but have received not the slightest bit of training to help them recognize potentially dangerous materials. Transport Canada says that this is the responsibility of the air carriers.  

While tight security is obviously crucial when flights are embarking, it is also of consequence when flights are arriving. But do our customs and immigration officers have the tools and the training to pick out persons arriving from abroad who may constitute a threat to Canadians?   

On November 18, 2002, Sheila Fraser, Auditor General of Canada, told the Committee that “We found that customs officers did not have adequate information to assess the risk that travellers pose to Canada, and that many long-serving officers had not received necessary refresher training  . . . we found that these officers had little information and support to ensure that applicants were unlikely to engage in criminal activities or endanger the safety of Canadians . . . most of the recommendations that we made in our audits are being dealt with satisfactorily – an exception, with relation to air travel security, is training . . . neither Canada Customs and Revenue Agency nor Citizenship and Immigration Canada has reported much progress.” 

More than a full year after the September 11 attacks the Committee heard that Air Canada’s flight crew security training has not changed in ten years, for instance. There has been no new training in the wake of the September 11 incidents, which should have significantly altered airlines’ protocols for maintaining cabin security. 

Flight crews have received no training in what role they should try to play if an armed Aircraft Protection Officer (APO) is on board. These APOs – RCMP officers – are placed on flights to Washington’s Reagan Airport (at the insistence of U.S. authorities), but we were also told that they work some domestic flights. They operate covertly, and are not supposed to intervene except in dire circumstances. They pay particular attention to assuring cockpits remain secure. 

In the United States, armed “sky marshals” brief crews on everyone’s responsibility if an incident occurs. Not in Canada. Not all members of flight crews must even be advised as to when an APO is on board. What does an uninformed flight attendant do if she or he sees an unknown person rise with a gun in his hand? Get out of the way? Or hit him with a wine bottle? Nobody knows. 

 

Crews Want Training, Not a Wing and a Prayer 

According to testimony, flight crews at Air Canada and other airlines are still waiting on Transport Canada to come in with new training requirements. The airlines, we were told, are unwilling to go ahead with new training on their own lest their new training not measure up to any new Transport Canada requirements in the works. Transport Canada predicts that it will not have new training procedures in place until the summer of 2003.  

This is unacceptable. Why is it taking two full years to react to the dramatic new scenarios created by the obvious willingness of terrorists to die while using aircraft as weapons to wreak as much destruction as possible?  

Here are examples of the some of the other testimony that the Committee heard on this issue: 

Art Laflamme, Senior Representative, Air Line Pilots Association International, Aug. 14, 2002:  “ALPA is particularly concerned with . . . protocols, procedures, and training for pilots and flight attendants with respect to events that could jeopardize the safety and security of an aircraft, from a verbally abusive passenger to a terrorist trying to break down the cockpit door. The United States has developed a comprehensive program or strategy dealing in this regard. We do not see that [such a strategy] has yet been developed in Canada... Right now the air marshal will identify himself or herself to the captain before the flight, but we feel the protocols, procedures and training associated with such a major issue on board an aircraft have not been formulated. It could be as simple as the flight attendant knowing whether to duck, or assist in some way.” 

 

Senator Cordy, Nov. 4, 2002: “What type of training do pilots receive in dealing with terrorists or even hijacking, and how do you work with an RCMP officer who may be on board the plane, the marshal?


Don Johnson, President, Air Canada Pilots Association: “The short answer is no, nothing. We used to get training on how to deal with hijackers before we knew that they were trying to get control of the aircraft and crash it . . . we have been calling from day one for procedures on how to deal with that very issue. What do we need to know? How do we have to coordinate our crew that we have onboard and everything else? We have received nothing.”

 

 

First Officer Ross Cooper, Security Committee, Air Canada Pilots Association Nov. 4, 2002: “One of the very early recommendations that we came up with . . . was one of changing the attitude toward highjacking. Prior to 9/11 . . . the established policy was to be compliant, slow the situation down, get the aircraft on the ground, and we will sort it out there with the forces available. We recommended that this policy of compliance be changed to a policy of non-compliance in recognition of the new threat, of the new environment we found ourselves in . . . that recommendation was forwarded through the Transport Canada working group sessions . . . to date, I do not think we have anything back on it.”  

Richard Balnis, Senior Research Officer, CUPE, the union representing flight attendants, Nov. 18, 2002: “Not all flight attendants on any particular flight are guaranteed of knowing whether an armed RCMP officer is onboard their aircraft. In our view, such lack of knowledge could lead to confusion and unwitting interference with the sky marshals in the performance of their duties in the event of a terrorist attack.“ 

“Flight attendant training procedures on how to deal with the new breed of suicide terrorists are outdated. Our procedure and training are still based on the hijacking scenarios of the 1970s: try to negotiate, offer liquids to drink . . .  Sadly, the development of these new training standards has been delayed because of an internal turf war between Transport Canada, Civil Aviation, and Transport Canada, Security.” 

(On Dec. 2, 2002, William Elliott, Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Transport Canada, said he did not agree that a “turf war” existed within his department.) 

France Pelletier, Flight Attendant, Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, Airline Division, CUPE, Nov. 18, 2002. “Our flight attendant manual contains basically all of our standard operating procedures. It was after my insistence that we were able to get some sort of procedure written in as to what to do if we see some unknown substance on board an aircraft. However we have absolutely no training and there have been no developments in that area whatsoever Transport Canada either. 

… Flight attendants are being asked to do checks for bombs and other things when we are not trained. We do not even know what they look like. 

… [We need something like what] one of the carriers… is looking at. . . a law enforcement training package on how to deal with somebody who is very aggressive . . . verbal judo, self defence, how to put on handcuffs… We have restraint ties onboard aircraft and we are not even trained in how to use them.”

Sen. Banks: “Ms. Pelletier, would you recognize, for example, a plastic explosive if you saw it?”

Ms. Pelletier: “No, sir.” 

Sen. Banks:  “Ms. Pelletier, you said, in your worst-case example, you are walking past with a cart, facing the people in an airplane as you would normally do, and someone stands up suddenly and is in the process of drawing a gun, and if you have a wine bottle in your hand, you are going to bash him or her.“ 

 

Ms. Pelletier: “That is correct.” 

Sen. Banks: “Is that part of your training?” 

Ms. Pelletier: “We do not have any training . . . we do not know what the rules of engagement are.  We do not know what we are supposed to do.”

 

 

Dave McLeod, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Lead Station Attendant (overseeing baggage and ramp operations), Aug 15, 2002: “Do I look for suspicious baggage and things? Yes I do. It is general knowledge that you are supposed to report anything suspicious. Have I been trained in what a suspicious bag is? No.” 

William Elliott, Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Transport Canada, Dec. 2, 2002: “We recognize the need to change and improve training for flight crews. We are in the process of developing enhanced training with that in mind.” 

After listening to a great deal of testimony on this issue, the Committee has come to the conclusion that it is intolerable that training of Canadian air crews, customs and immigration officers, and maintenance workers – the very people we are counting on to alert us to dangers and help deal with dangers that technology cannot curb on its own – have not received significant upgrades in anti-terrorism training nearly a year and a half after September 11.

 

To deal with the problems outlined in Section I, THE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS: 

 

I.1 Transport Canada should, by March 31, 2003, finalize and issue training standards programs to equip cabin crews to deal with terrorists and/or terrorist materials. All flight crews should have completed training by September 30, 2003. 

I.2 The Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and Immigration Canada should, by June 30, 2003, offer substantive evidence to the Committee that they have addressed the Auditor General’s recommendations to improve training that will help airport personnel identify persons “likely to engage in criminal activities or endanger the safety of Canadians.” They should also demonstrate that they have made arrangements to gain access to police databanks that would assist in such identification, and have provided their employees with the training and technology required to take advantage of these databanks. 

I.3 Transport Canada should, by September 30, 2003, ensure that all Canadian passenger airlines are providing training courses to maintenance personnel and other personnel working in proximity to aircraft to help them identify potentially dangerous situations and materials. 

The Committee believes that these deadlines are both urgent and reasonable, and will therefore monitor responses of the players involved. If any of the designated parties believe that they have valid reasons why the deadlines cannot be met, the Committee requests written explanations and alternate proposals.


II.  Improving In-Flight Security 

No question: flight crews, maintenance personnel and customs and immigration officers need upgraded training to help thwart terrorist activities, and they need it quickly.  

Beyond improved training for flight crews, the Committee wishes to present observations in this section specific to the working world they inhabit – the airline cabin.

 

Informed Flight Crews 

Our first observation is that, beyond training for situations in which armed Aircraft Protection Officers (APOs) may be on board, all members of a flight crew should be informed when such persons are on board.  Currently, the Committee was told, only the cockpit crew and the chief flight attendant are so informed. It is then left to them as to whether they inform the rest of the crew. 

This “optional” approach would seem to run counter to the wishes of both the RCMP – who believe the fewer people who know the APO is on board, the better, and members of the airline unions, most of whom believe that all attendants should know so they will be able to either help or get out of the way when an APO goes into action. 

The argument against informing all crew members is that a subordinate crew member might inadvertently turn to an APO for assistance if a passenger were being disruptive, thus permitting a team of terrorists to flush out an APO through the disruptive activities of one member of the team. Other members of the terrorist team, it is argued, might then take out the APO and get on with the business of assaulting the cockpit. 

 

The Whole Team Must Know 

On Dec. 2, 2002, RCMP Deputy Commissioner Garry Loeppky told the Committee that the APO’s primary responsibility is to “prevent an unauthorized person from gaining access to the cockpit,” while in the United States “sky marshals” “are also mandated to respond to unruly passengers.” While the Committee initially had some concern that an APO might not choose to get involved even when a flight attendant or passenger faced a life-and-death situation with a violent passenger, Deputy Commissioner Loeppky assured us that the APOs are trained to “react to any security threat on board an aircraft that may jeopardize the integrity of, or unlawful interference with, civil aviation, and respond to threats of death or grievous bodily harm.” 

The difference between an American sky marshal and a Canadian APO, he said, was that a Canadian APO “will not intervene in incidents” on board that are normally the air carrier’s responsibility.  That difference, he argued, was sufficient to justify the American approach of informing all air crew when a sky marshal is on board, as opposed to the Canadian practice of only advising the pilot and chief flight attendant.  

The Committee heard testimony that, while the captain and chief flight attendant were informed of the presence of one or possibly more APOs, they were not informed as to who among the passengers was an APO. That, it was argued, was because, in the event of a possible takeover of the plane, the RCMP does not want anyone inadvertently seeking assistance from the APO when terrorists might be employing disruption to divert him or flush him out before making their major assault on the cockpit. 

The Committee found the argument for not identifying an APO specifically more convincing that the argument that there is no need to advise all flight crew when an APO is on board. Some of our witnesses, however, felt that Canada should adopt the U.S. system of both identifying officers to all crew and having the crew briefed by the officers: 

Richard Balnis, Senior Research Officer, CUPE, November 18, 2002. “The only response I’ve heard from the RCMP is that their sky marshals are on an undercover operation and, therefore, the identity of those officers needs to be protected… That may be useful in an undercover operation in a bar or in a drug situation, but on an aircraft, it is different. We have to work as a team . . . .  Our fear . . . is that if someone pops up, begins to draw a gun, you do not know them and you are walking by, you may just slug them.  That is the unwitting interference.” 

 

Let’s Roll Together 

At this point the Committee is prepared to accept the RCMP argument that particular APOs not be identified to crew. However, given the need for teamwork in an aircraft cabin – particularly in situations in which several powerful and irrational people may be trying to either destroy or take over an aircraft – the Committee can see no reason that entire crews would not be advised of the presence of APOs on any flight, to prepare themselves mentally for situations in which a person brandishing a gun might be someone to try to assist, either actively or passively, rather than to hinder.

 

Securing Cockpit Doors 

There is very little disagreement among security experts that the one measure most likely to prevent recurrences of September 11-type tragedies is the installation of double cockpit doors. CATSA has budgeted $35 million to assist Canadian carriers to fortify cockpit doors. But while Transport Canada is requiring that Canadian cockpit doors be reinforced, there is not yet any requirement that they be doubled. 

William Elliott, Assistant Deputy Minister, Safety and Security Group, Transport Canada, November 27, 2002: “Canadian regulations are now in place that require modifications to be completed by April 9, 2003. These modifications include the retrofit of flight deck doors with fortified lockable doors that can be locked or unlocked by the pilots without having to leave their seats.” 

We were informed that Air Canada is testing various manifestations of double cockpit doors, which assure that when a member of the cockpit crew emerges to use the washroom, or meals are delivered to them, one door to the cockpit always remains secured. We received one estimate that cockpit doors are typically opened eight times on an average flight.  

The overwhelming testimony of both experts and flight crews was that, while reinforced doors are a great improvement, double doors should be installed on any planes that can accommodate them. Cockpit crew also told us that video cameras allowing them to see what activities might be taking place in the passenger cabin would be useful. 

Some examples of testimony the Committee heard on cockpit safety: 

 

Don Johnson, President, Air Canada Pilots Association, Nov. 4, 2002:  “We polled our pilots

. . . what they said was if we can have a totally secure cockpit environment . . .”

 

Sen. Meighen: “Double-doored?”

 

Mr. Johnson:  “Double doors, then we do not need to be armed . . . ”

 

Sen. Smith:  “Are you getting double doors?”

 

Mr. Johnson:  “Understand that most cockpit doors are at the end of some kind of small hallway, whether it is made up of the galley and the washroom, or whatever. There is a system where they can put a metal curtain across that hallway. It is just temporary, when somebody is coming or going from the cockpit. You may even be able to see through it. It may just be a series of steel bars, much like you see across the front of a shop when it is closed up.”

Senator Kenny: “You are satisfied from your side of the cockpit that the doors are safe now?”

 

Mr. Johnson: “I would not characterize it as safe as we want. They are safer than they used to be. We still believe that we need that double door to make it as safe as we want it to be.”

 

 

France Pelletier, Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, Airline Division, CUPE, Nov. 18, 2002: “I agree with [the double door].”

 

Sen. Atkins: “How do you implement it on some aircraft?”

 

Mme Pelletier: “ I have seen one demonstration. You would have a pass code to get through the first door. Then the first door would shut and you would be stuck between the two doors and have to enter another code before getting through the second door. It is an additional barrier. I have seen them and I think it is a good idea.”

 

Art Laflamme, Senior Representative, Air Line Pilots Association International, Aug 14, 2002: “If you are familiar with El Al aircraft, Israel has a two-door system, creating what is called a ‘man trap.’ That situation is currently being studied, and we are in favour of that being looked at very closely.”

 

Aviation Company Owner, in camera, June 24, 2002: “ . . . of all the problems we have, that is the easiest to solve. Indeed, for the most part, it is being solved. Kevlar doors on the cockpit and absolutely rigid, rigid procedures, that if something is going on in the back, you stay up there and you fly the airplane. It is a very simple fix. It is the only area in this total security issue at the airport . . . that is susceptible to an easy fix.”

-Text Box: Sen. Norman Atkins: “What is CUPE’s view on pilots having weapons?”

Flight Attendant France Pelletier: “We were against it. Terrorists, armed marshals and now armed pilots? It would be a battlefield.”

Aviation Company Owner, in camera, June 24, 2002: “Everybody talks about crews having guns, and few think to ask: ‘What if you fire the gun at 35,000 feet?’ Has anybody heard of explosive decompression? I went to school on explosive decompression. For the most part, nobody lives.”

 

To deal with the problems outlined in Section II,  

THE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS:

II.1 All flight crew should be informed when an Aircraft Protective Officer (APO) is on board. 

II.2 Transport Canada should, by June 30, 2003, require design completion of a double door system or systems to protect cockpits, and order air carriers to complete the installation of such systems by December 31, 2004. 

II.3 APOs should be instructed by the RCMP to be prepared to intervene in violent disruptions in passenger cabins, and certainly be prepared to intervene if crew or passengers’ lives are threatened, and not necessarily to restrain themselves until the very moment that any assault is launched on the cockpit. 

II.4 Pilots should not be armed.


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