Office of Science and Technology Policy National Aeronautics and Space Administration Federal Aviation Administration Department of Transportation Department of Homeland Security Department of Defense Department of Commerce

January 2005


Securing Our Nation: Technology Front and Center in Airports

Passengers today run a security gamut at airports. An identity check, a baggage and carry-on screen, and a barefooted walk though the magnetometer begin many air transportation journeys nowadays. While most air travelers want and value the added security in our post 9/11 world, others feel that the current system could be less intrusive. And additional security means extra airport time for every trip - sometimes two hours or more in line.

Work is underway, however, to improve air transportation security so it is more efficient and transparent to the traveler.

Last fall, the Transportation Security Administration deployed new "sniffer" technology at three major airports. The technology analyzes samples collected by swiping the surface of a document, such as a boarding pass or driver's license, over a collection disc and alerting the screener if explosives residue is detected.

According to TSA, this pilot is one in a series of next-generation tools being tested, including explosives trace detection portals, which are being tested in four airports with nearly a dozen more to come online in the next year. Also, the Registered Traveler Pilot Program, in place at five airports, is another innovative instrument to improve security through identity verification. And in the air cargo arena, six airports are trying out bulk Explosives Detection Systems (EDS) to screen elevated risk cargo.

Technology is a huge part of the security equation, but not all of it. TSA continues to refine its screening process. In December, it issued new rules regarding "pat downs" after passengers complained about overly intrusive screening procedures.

The long-term view on security is one of the "transformation strategies" of the Next Generation Air Transportation System. According to the Integrated National Plan, released last month by Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, "the future air transportation system will be designed with security measures embedded and interwoven throughout the system. Security systems will operate seamlessly across all aspects of air transportation. Airport security screening will be non-intrusive and integrated with other airport-based processes such as check-in, customs, immigration, agriculture screening, manifest processing and load planning."

Network enabled operations, or NEO, will be a major component of security in the future. NEO systems will link communications across the federal agencies that handle aviation to provide a "big picture" on air transportation information.

According the Federal Aviation Administrator Marion C. Blakey, "In terms of security, [NEO systems will give] a shared situational awareness that we don't have, but one that's needed." She noted that the FAA, NASA, DOD and the Department of Homeland Security are putting together a demonstration project using NEO concepts to enhance air travel security. "The goal is to freely share information for decision-making. By networking communications systems together, we can make a difference right away." And making a big difference both now and in the future is what the JPDO is all about.

Ready for the Next Giant Leap: FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference Set

What's next in commercial space in the wake of the X Prize? How will air traffic management handle future commercial space endeavors? And what will be the "right stuff" for tomorrow's engineers? Find out at "Ready for the Next Giant Leap," the 8th Annual Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Space Transportation Conference, scheduled for February 10-11 in Washington, D.C. For conference information or to register, visit or call 1-877-443-2670.

It's Not Just Another Plan, FAA Head Blakey Tells Airport Executives

When you hear Federal Aviation Administrator Marion C. Blakey talk about the Next Generation Air Transportation System, you realize that this is not just another government plan. It's a vision backed with existing technology and creative approaches that will change the way we fly today and in 2025.

And as she told the American Association of Airport Executives at its annual conference in Kona, Hawaii earlier this month, everything is on the table: after all, it's about transformation.

She referred to the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) as a "test bed for new ideas", while making a difference operationally. One example is an upcoming demonstration project using network enabled operations, or NEO, to provide a shared picture of the air transportation system to all parties, including FAA, DOD and Homeland Security.

Future initiatives could be cost-effective concepts that translate into comprehensive air traffic services at small airports. Those without radar could use inexpensive surveillance at the airport and network that information to an air traffic controller located miles away.

JPDO is paying close attention to airports. Its airport integrated product team portfolio includes determining which airports will need additional capacity in the future, and where demand for air cargo activity will occur. Another topic is how airports can handle unmanned aerial vehicles or fractional ownership of very light jets.

Administrator Blakey closed by saying that the Next Generation Air Transportation System Integrated National Plan is an investment "we can't afford not to make."

Coordination the Key to Creating the Next Generation Air Transportation System, Says DoT Under Sec'y Shane

Jeffery N. Shane, Under Secretary for Policy for the Department of Transportation, told the Washington Chapter of the Transportation Research Forum that the Next Generation Air Transportation System is about cooperation.

The major interagency, multi-year effort to transform the air transportation system requires unprecedented cooperation among the participating agencies, he said.

The Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO), which is jointly managed by the FAA and NASA and supported by staff from all the agencies involved, now serves as a focal point for coordinating the research related to air transportation for all of the participating agencies.

"A successful transformation will also require a close partnership with the research community, industry and other stakeholders, and the JPDO is working to establish a formal structure within which to manage those relationships to ensure a full public-private partnership as we move forward," Under Secretary Shane commented.

He added that while some have suggested that creating a Next Generation system might be "a budget-buster and therefore a non-starter in these challenging fiscal times," nothing could be farther from the truth. "On the contrary, we are using the JPDO process as a way to ensure full coordination of research across agency lines, and between the government and private sector, in ways that simply have not been done in the past. A lot of money is already being spent each year on air transportation-related research. By better coordinating our actions and tying them to a long-term integrated, national plan, we can maximize the benefits of those public and private investments, get a much bigger bang for our buck, and actually save money," he said.

To read the entire speech, go to:

© Private jet rental JPDO 1500 K Street, NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005, USA