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May 30, 2015

Posts in "Security"

February 25, 2015

Decline In Military Shipments Endangers Merchant Fleet

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R- Calif. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R- Calif. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The struggle to preserve the U.S. merchant shipping fleet played out on three fronts Wednesday at a hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

First: while the drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan may be welcome news for stressed-out military families, it’s not good news for the merchant fleet.

Paul Jaenichen, the head of the Maritime Administration, told the subcommittee that the declining volume of Defense Department cargo due to the withdrawal of most U.S. forces from Afghanistan and Iraq “coupled with a more than 80 percent reduction in personnel and military bases overseas since 1990” is hurting the U.S. merchant fleet.

Full story

February 9, 2015

Markey Wants A Driver Opt-Out Right On Data Use

Sen. Edward J. Markey, D- Mass. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Edward J. Markey, D- Mass. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Edward J. Markey, D- Mass. issued a report Monday that warned that drivers’ privacy is at risk from vehicles being able to transmit location and performance data.

Markey asked that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issue new standards, including giving drivers the right to “opt out of data collection and transfer of driver information to off-board storage.”

The Massachusetts Democrat argued that voluntary privacy principles adopted by the two major coalitions of automobile manufacturers don’t go far enough.

Full story

February 4, 2015

New Yorker Sees Risk Of Terrorists Using Oil Trains

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D- N.Y.  (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D- N.Y. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Could terrorists use one of the trains transporting flammable crude oil throughout the country as a weapon of mass destruction?

That disquieting scenario was sketched out Tuesday by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D- N.Y.

At a hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Maloney said he represented an area of the Hudson Valley that “sees an enormous amount of oil being moved both by rail and by barge down the Hudson River.”

Full story

January 27, 2015

White House Landing Highlights Calls For Drone Rule

A member of the Secret Service's Uniformed Division sits in his car on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House on Monday (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

A member of the Secret Service’s Uniformed Division sits in his car on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House on Monday (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

The lobbying and advocacy effort to get the Federal Aviation Administration to issue its long-awaited proposed rule on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) got a bit of a dramatic fillip early Monday when a small quad copter landed on the White House grounds.

The Washington Post reported that the Secret Service said a person whom it didn’t identify, called at 9:30 a.m. Monday to “self-report that they had been in control of the quad copter device that crashed on the White House grounds early this morning. The individual has been interviewed by Secret Service agents and been fully cooperative. Initial indications are that this incident occurred as a result of recreational use of the device.”

But Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D- N.Y., said, “With the discovery of an unauthorized drone on the White House lawn, the eagle has crash-landed in Washington; there is no stronger sign that clear FAA guidelines for drones are needed.”

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January 23, 2015

NTSB Wants Devices To Prevent Flight Disappearances

Origami cranes hang on a board offering prayers and condolences to the Malaysia Airlines MH370 and MH17 victims and their families at a bereavement centre in Kuala Lumpur last September (Photo: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images)

Origami cranes hang on a board offering prayers and condolences to the Malaysia Airlines MH370 and MH17 victims and their families at a bereavement centre in Kuala Lumpur last September (Photo: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images)

The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending to the Federal Aviation Administration that it require aircraft on trans-oceanic routes be equipped with devices that will allow searchers to find them if they crash.

The recommendations come more than 10 months after the still-unexplained disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with 239 passengers and crew on board while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The NTSB noted in letter to FAA administrator Michael Huerta that the searchers for the plane “have analyzed and mapped more than 41,000 square kilometers of ocean floor” without finding the aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder, flight data recorder, or wreckage.

The NTSB is also responding to the nearly two-year search for the recorders from an Air France flight which crashed en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in 2009, killing all 228 people on board. The NTSB said it cost about $40 million to find the flight recorders in that case.

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January 20, 2015

Drone Industry Leaders Urge Regulatory Speed-Up

An attendee handles an RC EYE Navigator 250 drone from RC Logger at the 2015 International CES consumer technology trade show on Jan. 8, 2015 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

An attendee handles an RC EYE Navigator 250 drone from RC Logger at the 2015 International CES consumer technology trade show on Jan. 8, 2015 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Leaders of the unmanned aerial vehicle industry are out in force in Washington this week, hoping to convince members of Congress to take a hand in speeding up a regulatory process that’s holding back U.S.-based commercial drone makers and software providers.

At the National Press Club Tuesday, companies did indoor test flights of their drones and industry activists listened to pre-lobbying coaching from their leaders and allies.

Michael Drobac, executive director of the Small UAV Coalition and a policy adviser at Washington’s Akin Gump law firm, told his members that they face big regulatory hurdles and that “it’s incumbent upon us to go to those regulatory officials and to lawmakers to present the pathway to safe and responsible integration of UAVs into the airspace.”

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January 15, 2015

Putin Is Aviation Week’s Pick As Person Of The Year

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual press conference in Moscow on Dec. 18, 2014. (Photo: Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual press conference in Moscow on Dec. 18, 2014. (Photo: Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

The venerable aviation industry trade publication Aviation Week & Space Technology has chosen Russian President Vladimir Putin as its 2014 Person of the Year.

The magazine said in its issue dated Jan. 15 that the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, killing all 298 people on board last July, “changed civil aviation in a way that could hardly have been imagined one year earlier.”

It didn’t much matter “whether the attack on Flight 17 was a cruel mishap from a missile actually intended to hit Ukrainian military aircraft. Civil aviation has been, if not a target, then certainly a victim of a war fueled and directly supported by Putin’s Russia,” the magazine said.

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January 7, 2015

DHS Chief Johnson To Examine Atlanta Security Breach

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.  (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will go to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Thursday to meet with Transportation Security Administration and airport officials to confer on what his spokeswoman called “potential vulnerabilities” in airport security.

Johnson’s trip had been announced Tuesday.

On Wednesday New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer demanded that the TSA order airports to screen all airport and airline employees through a metal detector each time they enter airport premises.

The New York Democrat called for action after Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson and federal agencies uncovered a gun smuggling conspiracy which brought 153 firearms from the Atlanta airport to New York airports from May to December of last year. Five men, including a former Delta Airlines ramp worker, have been charged in the scheme.

Full story

December 31, 2014

Transportation Hurdles Ahead In 2015 For Congress

Christmas travelers walk past a man focused on his smartphone on Dec. 23, 2014  at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. during the hectic Christmas travel week.    (Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Christmas travelers walk past a man focused on his smartphone on Dec. 23, 2014 at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. during the hectic Christmas travel week. (Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

In the New Year, Congress faces far-reaching policy and spending choices that will put members under both time and political pressure. Will there be enough time to accomplish all that needs to be done, or will decisions be postponed in favor of short-term expedients?

Here are some of the issues that are likely to be contentious in 2015

  • Unmanned aerial systems: Members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee let Federal Aviation Administration officials know at a Dec. 10 hearing that they’re fed up with the agency’s slowness in devising a rule to integrate unmanned aerial vehicles into the nation’s airspace.

Congress may take some of these decisions into its own hands if the FAA doesn’t act quickly enough. Some members see the UAV industry’s vast potential being stymied by the FAA’s inaction. Full story

December 24, 2014

A Look Back At Our Favorite Stories Of The Year

Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, left, in July called a temporary FAA ban on flights to the Tel Aviv airport an economic boycott of Israal. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, left, in July called a temporary FAA ban on flights to the Tel Aviv airport an economic boycott of Israal. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Since we launched The Container in June, transportation news has been dominated by one big trend, the decline in oil and gasoline prices, by an Ebola outbreak that caused jitters in the aviation industry, and by a range of tough policy choices that Congress has faced.

Here’s a glance back at the some of our favorite stories since we launched…

  • Unless you’re the Nigerian or Russian energy minister, you’re probably happy about declining oil and gasoline prices. We took note when the price at the pump fell below in $3 a gallon.
  • The price of oil has been driven down in part by the boom in production in North Dakota’s Bakken shale. In July we got some perspective on shipment of Bakken crude from a major player in the industry, Global Partners CEO Eric Slifka, who made the case why rail shipment is better than pipelines.
  • On Capitol Hill, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. won a victory in his battle for less costly shipping of food aid to countries in need….
  • …while some House members still waxed nostalgic for the now-banned earmarks that they say would make it easier to enact a major transportation spending bill.
  • In the crowded skies, drones swooping over your neighborhood to survey real estate (but only if the Federal Aviation Administration gives its OK) was a provocative scenario we heard about
  •  Also aloft, one airline industry analyst complained that “we as customers still feel entitled to have access to that [luggage] bin space with our ticket. Why is that?”
  • Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has a knack for making news with pungent statements and in July, to our benefit, he weighed in on the FAA temporarily banning U.S. flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, calling it an economic boycott of Israel. The FAA acted after a rocket landed about a mile from the airport as fighting raged between Israel and Hamas.
  • The alarm about the Ebola virus peaked in October and we pondered how Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sounded as much like an economist as an epidemiologist. We also got the views of an airport administrator who is on the Ebola front lines: “to chase anonymous vomit. That’s what my job has become.”

Note: The Container will resume regular publication on Jan. 5.

December 8, 2014

Drones, Planes, Oil By Trains, Spending Bill Remains

The safety of drones flying in airspace they share with planes, the safety of shipping oil by trains and little transportation nuggets tucked into the year-end spending bill are all on the agenda this week as lawmakers try to finish business for the 113th Congress.

Tuesday

With many legislatures beginning their sessions in January, state lawmakers will be in Washington to swap ideas and lobby members of Congress as the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) holds its 2014 Forum this week.

A pressing issue facing state governments is the safety of rail shipment of crude oil and the congestion caused by North Dakota’s oil boom.

Full story

November 24, 2014

FAA Review Of Chicago Fire Focuses On Insider Threat

Passengers wait to reschedule flights at O'Hare International Airport on Sept. 26 after arson destroyed equipment at an air traffic control facility.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Passengers wait to reschedule flights at O’Hare International Airport on Sept. 26 after arson destroyed equipment at an air traffic control facility. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Pay more attention on the threats from within.

That’s one lesson of a 30-day internal Federal Aviation Administration review of the Sept. 26 fire set at the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center.

Brian Howard, a contractor who worked at the center, was charged in a criminal complaint in the incident which disrupted travel and forced the FAA to move air traffic control to its centers in Minneapolis, Kansas City, Cleveland and Indianapolis.

The internal review, which the FAA released Monday, found that dealing with external threats has until now been “the primary focus of the FAA security regime.”

Full story

November 3, 2014

The Week Ahead: Elections, Airport Executives’ Summit

TSA Administrator John Pistole will be addressing the 14th annual American Association of Airport Executives Aviation Security Summit Tuesday. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly)

TSA Administrator John Pistole will be addressing the 14th annual American Association of Airport Executives Aviation Security Summit Tuesday. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly)

The mid-term elections on Tuesday will give voters the chance to shape national and local transportation policy through ballot measures and indirectly through choosing which party controls the Senate.

We will report on the election outcomes, from Seattle’s monorail ballot proposal to the contest for the Senate majority.

Tuesday

In addition to it being Election Day, Tuesday is the start of the two-day aviation security summit sponsored by the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration in Arlington, Va.

Full story

October 31, 2014

A Look Back: Threats to Aviation, Violent Passengers & the Gasoline Tax

Wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Rassipnoe in eastern Ukraine. The flight was shot down on July 17, 2014. (Photo: Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images)

Wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Rassipnoe in eastern Ukraine. The flight was shot down on July 17, 2014. (Photo: Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) aviation security conference in Washington this week offered insights on the “insider” threat to aviation from people who work for airlines, airports, contractors, and vendors.

James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, launched the conference by sounding the alarm about the insider threat and aviation security experts then filled in the details of past and present insider risks.

Full story

October 30, 2014

‘Unruly’ Too Mild a Word For Some Airline Miscreants

Among the other inconveniences of air travel is the risk that a fellow passenger may become abusive or violent. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Among the other inconveniences of air travel is the risk that a fellow passenger may become abusive or violent. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Between 2007 and last year, there were over 28,000 unruly passenger incidents on board aircrafts in flight, according to the International Air Transport Association.

The number of unruly passenger incidents reported to IATA increased from 6,004 in 2011 to 8,217 last year, and that number likely understates the extent of the problem because many regional or smaller carriers are not IATA members.

The fact that behavior by passengers will now routinely be recorded on cell phone cameras by their fellow passengers seems to have no inhibiting effect on the unruly who threaten, curse, sexually abuse, spit at, hit, or kick those on board a plane with them.

Full story

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