Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 30, 2014

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October 30, 2014

‘Unruly’ Too Mild a Word For Some Airline Miscreants

455741254 1 445x296 ‘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)

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.

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October 29, 2014

Insider Threat To Aviation: More Than Terrorism

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Security experts warn about the threat posed to aviation from airport and airline employees, contractors, and vendors (Photo: Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images)

“You ask an airport security manager, ‘what is your nightmare scenario, what keeps you awake at night?’ and many of them say it’s the insider threat.”

So said Philip Baum, managing director of the consulting firm Green Light LTD and editor of the trade publication Aviation Security International at an insider threat panel at this week’s aviation security conference in Washington sponsored by the International Air Transport Association.

He added, “We talk about the insider threat as if it is something new and original.” But there have been incidents in aviation security history where the insider threat became real.

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Boeing Delivery Reminder Of Export-Import Bank Fracas

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A Boeing 777-300 ER, owned by Emirates, takes off from Dubai airport. (Photo: Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images)

Boeing’s announcement Wednesday that it had delivered its 100th 777-300ER (Extended Range) airplane to Emirates Airlines is a reminder of one unresolved policy question the new Congress will face in 2015: whether to kill, or curtail, the Export-Import Bank.

The bank provides loans, loan guarantees, and credit insurance to foreign companies to subsidize purchases of U.S. goods.

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October 28, 2014

Q & A: Former Federal Pipeline Regulator Brigham McCown, Part Two

139286532 445x300 Q & A: Former Federal Pipeline Regulator Brigham McCown, Part Two

It isn’t just oil that is transported by rail: here’s a chlorine tanker car in Virginia (Photo: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

Here is part two of our interview with Brigham McCown, the former acting head of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. (Click here for part one)

From the data, is it clear that one mode of shipping oil is safer? Is it clear that pipelines are safer than rail?

Government data suggests that pipelines do have a slight advantage, but the caveat there is all modes are extremely safe and PHMSA obviously regulates vessels, rail, trucks, aircraft, as well as pipelines, the whole transportation spectrum.

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NTSB Cites Sleep Apnea in Fatal Train Accident

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Four passengers were killed when a Metro-North train commuter derailed in The Bronx on Dec. 1, 2013. (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)

The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday the probable cause of a commuter rail accident that killed four people in New York City last year was the engineer having fallen asleep “due to undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea.”

The engineer’s sleep apnea was made worse by a recent schedule change, which had him starting work at 4 or 5 a.m.

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‘Emerging Threats’ to Aviation or Perhaps More of the Familiar Ones?

452481434 445x308 ‘Emerging Threats’ to Aviation or Perhaps More of the Familiar Ones?

The 2011 Libyan revolution opened the regime’s arsenals: The remains of an explosive device on the tarmac of the Tripoli airport (Photo: Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images)

One message of a panel discussion on emerging threats to aviation at the International Air Transport Association’s security conference Tuesday: don’t take your eye off the familiar potential threat of an explosive being carried aboard an airplane.

That threat is combined with a fresh supply of jihadists or aspiring jihadists determined to pull off a spectacular attack.

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Airlines Push Back Against ‘Data For Data’s Sake’

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Passengers wait to go through security screening at O’Hare International Airport. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

You can tell how fraught with tension the relationship between the airline industry and governments is when Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), says that after all the money that airlines spend to collect passengers’ passport and identification data, “what infuriates me” is some governments “don’t do anything with it when they’ve got it.”

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October 27, 2014

Airlines Voice Frustration On Intelligence Sharing

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Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine on July 17. (Photo: Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images)

Spokesmen for the world’s airlines voiced frustration Monday that, three months after a surface-to-air missile destroyed a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine, there still isn’t a procedure for intelligence agencies to provide timely information to them of threats to civilian aircraft.

“Let me be clear very clear about what is required: airlines need clear and accurate information on which to base operations’ decisions on where and when it is safe to fly,” said Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade association for the world’s airlines, which represents more than 80 percent of global airlines.

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Clapper Identifies Airport Insiders and Ebola As Key Aviation Threats

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Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (Photo by Bill Clark/Roll Call)

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told an aviation security conference Monday that “I’ve spent more time and energy on Ebola than most people would think a DNI would. It’s not the sort of thing we spy on, but nevertheless there are intelligence implications of Ebola as well.”

Clapper told the 23rd annual “Av Sec World” aviation security conference sponsored by the International Air Transport Association that “we’re very open to working with you to find solutions to prevent a West African epidemic from a turning into a global pandemic.”

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The Week Ahead: Aviation Security Meeting, Ebola Quarantine Debate

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Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will address a major aviation security conference in Washington this week. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A big aviation security conference takes place in Washington this week, sponsored by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Meanwhile, the debate on air travel and the Ebola outbreak will likely intensify as four states have split with the Obama administration by imposing their own quarantines on doctors, nurses and anyone else in direct contact with those who may be infected with Ebola.

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October 24, 2014

A Look Back: Congestion Pricing, Fuel-Efficient Planes & Sand For Fracking

452912796 445x317 A Look Back: Congestion Pricing, Fuel Efficient Planes & Sand For Fracking

Falling prices for jet fuel won’t hurt demand for Boeing’s new fuel-efficient 787 airplanes, CEO Jim McNerney said this week. (Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images)

This week we took a look at congestion pricing, tolls that vary with the amount of traffic on a particular stretch of highway.

Can that market-based strategy reduce gridlock in some cities where it is most needed?

The problem: older highways such as the Schuylkill Expressway in Philadelphia, one of America’s most congested roads, have no adjacent space to add a new toll lane.

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‘Catastrophic’ Distracted Driving, And Not By a Teenager

169601728 445x295 ‘Catastrophic’ Distracted Driving, And Not By a Teenager

Smoke from a May 28, 2013 truck-train collision in Rosedale, Md. caused by a truck driver’s distracted driving. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

We’re just concluding Operation Safe Driver Week, a joint effort of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

FMCSA notes that nearly 4,000 people are killed annually in large truck and bus crashes.

This week also happens to be National Teen Driver Safety Week, with the familiar warnings to teenage drivers to not text when driving.

Full story

October 23, 2014

United Airlines Sees No Ebola Effect

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United Airlines jets sit at gates at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

United Airlines bookings haven’t been affected by the Ebola outbreak, United’s chief revenue officer Jim Compton said Thursday.

He told investment analysts that the airline’s transatlantic business has “experienced several recent pressures, including Middle East unrest, the Ukrainian conflict, and more recently, concerns about Ebola” but “we have not seen any meaningful impact on bookings to date.”

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Energy Boom – And Sand – Benefit Union Pacific

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A Union Pacific train in Illinois (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Now is a great time to own a piece of a railroad, judging by the profits announced Thursday by the nation’s largest, Union Pacific.

The railroad, which serves West Coast and Gulf Coast ports and is a major shipper of grain, as well as of coal from Wyoming to power plants, set an all-time record for quarterly profits and for freight revenue, up 11 percent from the third quarter last year.

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Can Congestion Pricing Work Where It’s Needed Most?

452281681 1 445x296 Can Congestion Pricing Work Where It’s Needed Most?

Can congestion pricing ease traffic on roads like this one in Chicago? (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Congestion pricing of highways, or “priced managed lanes,” is now used from Houston to San Jose.

The toll goes up when a highway is more congested. Only people who most want to use that highway will pay the toll. Others will defer trips to off-peak times or try to find another route.

But can congestion pricing work where it’s most needed?

Full story

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