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September 19, 2001 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-09-19

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Attacks leave airlines
in need of assistance


The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 19, 2001- 9

FAA soliciting plans
for 'secure cockpits'

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON - After a meeting
with nine airline chief executives and
members of the White House's economic
and budget advisers, Transportation Sec-
retary Norman Mineta said yesterday he
hoped to have a bailout package for the
nation's airlines ready for Congress by
early next week.
But Mineta said it was too premature to
say what assistance that package would
include, how much or how the funds will
be disbursed. "So now our big task is tak-
ing the data that we have received from
the airline industry and to then sculpt it
out into a legislative package," Mineta
Airline executives said as a result of
last week's terrorist attacks and unprece-
dented three-day grounding of all flights,
several carriers could be forced to seek
bankruptcy protection in a matter of days
without financial assistance from the gov-
The executives are seeking around $24
billion in aid, loan guarantees and tax
"In the last three of the four days of last
week, we had almost no revenue, and we
would anticipate that in the next few days
revenue would probably be operating at

no more than 40 to 50 percent of normal,"
said Leo Mullin, Delta chief executive.
"And with the heavy fixed costs in this
industry, there is no way in the long term
that our industry could survive with those
Armed with a six-page outline, the air-
line executives met for two hours this
morning at the Transportation Department
before heading over to the White House.
Mineta said he was later scheduled to
meet with members of the House and Sen-
ate appropriation and authorizing commit-
tees. A breakdown of what the executives
were asking for included:
Grants, jet fuel rebates and loan guaran-
tees: $11.2 billion.
Retain all ticket and cargo waybill taxes
from Sept. 1, 2001 through Aug. 31,
2002: $7 billion.
Provide an immediate cash infusion to
compensate the industry for revenue loss-
es and security cost increases: $5 billion.
Repeal the 4.4-cent gallon federal jet
fuel tax for Sept. 1, 20001 through Aug.
31, 2002: $800 million.
Mullin said the $24 billion is an esti-
mate that could change. "We are working
on plans with the administration that
could in fact yield that much, but perhaps
less, and we all hope it will be less," he

Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta,
with Delta Air Lines Chairman Leo Mullin,
discusses a package of relief for the nation's
major airlines after last week's terrorism.
Mineta declined to say if one of the
provisions of the package would be a
relief from any liability actions United
and American Airlines would incur
because it was their planes that were
hijacked and crashed into the World Trade
Center, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.
Without relief, United and American
would be responsible for the victims and
the property at the sites. Wall Street ana-
lysts have said if United and American
were held liable, it would immediately
force them into Chapter 11 bankruptcy

The Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - Replacing today's flim-
sy airline cockpit doors with sturdier models
capable of thwarting hijackers has emerged as
a top priority of an emergency advisory panel
to Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta,
according to government and industry offi-
The Federal Aviation Administration has
begun soliciting plans for a "secure cockpit"
from engineering design companies. Boeing, the
world's largest airplane manufacturer, has
assigned its engineers to study the issue.
But unless the FAA is ready to mandate stiffer
doors, door frames, hinges and locks, the indus-
try may balk at the cost, which one executive
estimated at $50,000 per aircraft.
Hardened cockpit doors are just about the only
physical change to jetliners now under discussion
that might deter the sorts of hijackings that cul-
minated in last Tuesday's attacks on the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon. Otherwise, atten-
tion is focused on procedural changes such as
passenger screening and baggage checks.
In the past, security improvements have lan-
guished after the initial shock of an attack faded
away. After the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing, for
example, the FAA approved bomb-resistant
cargo containers. But since the agency did not
require the use of the super-strong containers,

only a few international carriers obtained them,
among them Israel's El Al.
"The underbelly of the airplane was never
fully fixed," said William M. Baker, former assis-
tant FBI director in charge of criminal investiga-
tions at the time of the Pan Am 103 disaster over
Lockerbie, Scotland.
This time, however, Mineta and his aides have
all but promised action. And the powerful Air
Line Pilots Association last week dropped its
opposition to stronger door locks.
"Unauthorized cockpit access is our primary
concern," ALPA spokesman John Mazor said
yesterday. "Our first priority is getting stronger,
more secure designs approved and in place."
In the past, ALPA had argued that strong locks
could hamper pilots' quick escape in a crash and
turn the cockpit into a coffin.
Until the FAA approves a completely
redesigned door, Mazor said the union was
endorsing the temporary use of deadbolt
locks that cannot be opened from the outside.
It is unclear whether the airlines will install
such locks, since Mineta has promised a
decision on permanent changes in a matter of
Along with new doors would come more
restrictive procedures for the crew. Access to the
cockpit by flight attendants would be limited and
pilots would not be able to walk into the passen-
ger cabin at will.

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