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Top ten stories for AAAE Security SmartBrief, Monday, December 12, 2011

April 11, 2012
1. Pistole defends staffing levels at TSA
Transportation Security Administration Administrator John Pistole this week defended staffing levels at the agency. “Those who say that we’re inefficient or bloated — I’d be glad to sit down and go through the books and say, ‘OK, how would you staff this differently?'” Pistole said. He has requested 3,570 more positions for this fiscal year. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., who criticized the TSA as bloated, said he would be happy to sit down with Pistole to discuss staffing.Bloomberg Businessweek (12/08)
2. Officials find five inert grenades in checked bag
Explosives experts at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport on Saturday found five grenades in a checked bag that belonged to a passenger bound for Belgium. The grenades were inert, and the incident did not disrupt operations. The passenger was allowed to continue on her trip after the Transportation Security Administration determined the grenades never posed a threat. The TSA confiscated the grenades. WCBS-TV (New York) (12/05) Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.), The (12/05)
3. Plane searched after landing at Missouri airport
A flight that landed Friday at Kansas City International Airport in Missouri was taken to a “safe spot” and searched. Passengers were removed from the plane, and their bags were searched. It was not clear why the plane was searched, but authorities told passengers that an unauthorized Internet transmission was made from the plane. Kansas City Star (Mo.), The(12/02)
4. Arrest prompts FAA’s Babbitt to take leave
Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt was put on leave from his post following his arrest for drunk driving on Saturday. The FAA said Babbitt requested the leave after the incident. “That request has been granted and Deputy Administrator Michael Huerta will serve as acting administrator. DOT officials are in discussions with legal counsel about Administrator Babbitt’s employment status,” the FAA said in a statement. CNBC (12/05)
5. TSA improperly denied grant to American, court finds
The Transportation Security Administration improperly rejected American Airlines’ request for reimbursement for a baggage security system at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, according to a federal appeals court. The panel of judges found the TSA acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” when it rejected American’s application for a $30 million grant, and it urged the TSA to reconsider its decision. Bloomberg (12/06)
6. United Continental to be part of TSA’s PreCheck program
Next year, elite travelers with United Continental will have the opportunity to move more quickly through airport security, Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole said. Delta Air Lines and American Airlines already participate in the program, which allows participants who have provided personal information and flight history to often keep their shoes and coats on at screening stations. Bloomberg Businessweek (12/08)
7. Randy Babbitt resigns after arrest
Randy Babbitt, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration, resigned on Tuesday after being arrested on charges he drove while intoxicated three days earlier. Babbitt, a former airline pilot, had headed the agency since 2009. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said Babbitt’s resignation “creates a serious setback, leaving FAA in limbo at a critical time.” Washington Post, The (12/07) Reuters (12/07) Wall Street Journal, The (12/07)
8. American Airlines may need to change 5-hub strategy, analysts say
American Airlines may have to cut service for its parent company, AMR Corp., to emerge successfully from bankruptcy, experts say. However, the carrier’s CEO says the airline is committed to keeping five hubs. “Transformational change is needed here and the indications we’ve seen imply to me that the board of directors may not have the appetite for that,” said Hunter Keay, an airline analyst at Wolfe Trahan & Co. (12/05) Wall Street Journal, The (12/06)
9. Lawmakers still disagree on FAA reauthorization bill
Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., surprised other lawmakers this week when he said he wanted to lump together four issues in the reauthorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration. “I’m not trying to be difficult, but I want to provide as much incentive to get this job done as soon as possible,” he said. The short-term extension to fund the FAA expires Jan. 31. Politico Pro (subscription required) (12/02)
10. Poll: Will you travel for business during the busy December travel season?
Check AAAE Security Smartbrief Thursday for poll results.
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