10 March 2006

A writes:

This is from the dcpilots list on Yahoo Groups.

The links below work, they just tell you the information has been removed.

From: Date: Wed Feb 1, 2006 3:27 pm  Subject: January 12 transcripts posted

I just checked the FAA docket and found the 1/12 transcripts.

I expect that the 1/18 transcripts (the meetings I attended) will be added soon.

Afternoon session: <http://dmses.dot.gov/docimages/pdf95/383929_web.pdf>

Evening session: <http://dmses.dot.gov/docimages/pdf95/383930_web.pdf>


For those of you who attended the ADIZ public hearings in January, you'll recall that the FAA panel moderator started each session by explaining to us that the verbatim transcript of all testimony would be posted on the DMS website, as well as be available for hardcopy purchase.  For a short period, the verbatim testimony transcript was in fact available online.

It is now missing from the website in its entirety, nor is it available for hardcopy purchase.

I have been advised by FAA reps that the complete removal of this documentation was done at the initiative of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).  The alleged purpose of this action is to review the material for Security Sensitive Information (SSI).  I have been unable to locate a government rep who can say when, or IF, this public documentation will return to the public domain.

Keep in mind that every word of every sentence of every presentation was spoken in the presence of multiple TSA representatives who were either on the hearing panel or in the room.  Soon after, the transcripts were posted on the DMS website addressing NPRM 17005.  A few weeks later, TSA decided to retract all the information from public access.

The fact that TSA is an out of control dysfunctional agency is a given, so it may be just another example of their on-going bufoonery.  On the other hand, this could be an attempt to rewrite history to minimize the public record sentiment regarding the ADIZ.  In any event, since its inception, TSA has consistently demonstrated their inability to do the right thing, and this latest example should not go unchallenged.

If you're as outraged over this institutional arrogance as I am, I invite you to express your views to Mr. Tony Fazio, FAA Office of Rulemaking, at: 202-267-9677.  You might even try to locate the appropriate troid within the TSA who is aware of this issue....(Good luck.... Been there-done that.)


Below are comments on an FAA proposed rule for Washington DC aircraft flight restrictions. Transcripts of a public hearing on January 18, 2006, where similar comments were made, have been removed due to alleged security concerns by NORAD (thanks to A):


Declan McCullagh writes:

The public hearing was held Jan. 18 at the Airport Marriott in Dulles, Va., and was discussed in local news reports. Its purpose was to ask for public opinions about recent airspace security restrictions near the nation's capital, which have cost local businesses some $45 million a year in lost revenue and have even prompted some general aviation pilots to move elsewhere.

One of the pilots who testified was Lt. Cmdr. Tom Bush, a U.S. Navy F-18 Hornet pilot who also flies a small civilian plane and said he was speaking as a private individual. "Freedom and security are polar opposites, and I am not willing to give up my freedom for the sake of terrorists," Bush said during the hearing, according to a report at AviationNow.com.

The report also said Bush suggested the airspace restrictions were irrational because a terrorist could pretend to fly through the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) to nearby Dulles airport, make a right-hand turn at the last minute, and be over downtown Washington, D.C., in four minutes. The ADIZ is a ring stretching almost 40 miles around Washington, D.C.

"There may be some operational security concerns with the time line he laid out," Michael Kucharek, the chief of media relations for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Kucharek said that "there were some operational security concerns revealed by this person who had knowledge but appeared as a public citizen, which we think was out of line. The disclosure of that information could go directly to national security concerns."

The proposed rule and 21,476 comments:


Source: http://dmses.dot.gov/docimages/pdf92/342277_web.pdf


August 15, 2005

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." --- Benjamin Franklin, 1759.

While I am sure that the FAA and DHS believe that the proposed rulemaking for a permanent SFRA around the nation's capital provides a certain degree of protection from an unknown threat, the rational proposed for the SFRA is flawed on several fronts. The 'threats' that created the existing ADIZ in 2002 could not be justified then, and continue to be unsubstantiated in the rationale provided in the "Background", "Request To Permanently Codify Temporary Flight Restrictions Over The Washington, DC Metropolitan Area", and "General Discussion of the Proposal" sections of the NPRM.

It would be easy to debate the conflicting, and often unsubstantiated comments in these sections, but that would not get to the point of the matter. The ADIZ exists because security personnel believe that additional attacks will come from the sky. This is an emotional reaction of the Sept 11, 2001 attack. Security personnel are trying to make a case that future terrorists will use General Aviation aircraft to cause this renewed terror. This fear (emotion) is not based on a logical view of the world, of physics, or of aviation; otherwise security personnel would view the existing ADIZ as ineffective. Putting an ADIZ or a SFRA around Washington, DC makes sense only if one views the protection problem from an emotional perspective. It makes security personnel, who appear to know very little about aviation and physics, comfortable in that something has been done. In short, the ADIZ (or proposed SFRA) does nothing to prevent the threats that security personnel believe that it (the ADIZ) protects us from. It does, however, allow them to say "We did something, and I believe it is working."

If one closely looks at the type of aircraft used in the 9/11 attacks, one can clearly see that all were commercial airlines, weighing 255,000 lbs, flying on IFR flight plans, with an encoding transponder and a valid squawk code, communicating with ATC (until not), fully loaded for a cross-country flight with up to 11,450 gallons of fuel, traveling at or above 470 knots (540 MPH). The damage potential of a large, fast, fuel-laden aircraft is quite good, as witnessed by the attack on the World Trade Center. While the damage of the impact was great, it was the un-extinguished fires from the heavily-laden jet that collapsed the towers. It is important to note that the 4 aircraft involved technically met the criteria for entry into the ADIZ, with the exception that ATC could not raise them on the radio.

A typical General Aviation aircraft, on the other hand, weighs about 2000 lbs, can carry about 500 lbs of weight (including the pilot), travels at about 120 knots (140 MPH), with up to 90 gallons of fuel. The damage potential of using this type of aircraft is relatively poor. An example of the potential of using a small General Aviation aircraft as a weapon can be seen by viewing the NTSB report #ATL02FA032, where a Cessna 172R crashed into the 28th floor of the Bank of America building in Tampa, Florida on January 5, 2002. The pilot was killed. Windows in the office building were broken. A couple of offices in the building had to be repaired. Very little damage occurred. Another incident, where a small Cessna was used to crash into the White House (September 12, 1994), resulted in the death of the pilot but caused very little damage. Again, not an effective weapon. Yet there seems to be a persistent "belief" that great danger will, and can happen, with the use of a small aircraft. A car, or a truck bomb will produce greater damage than what can be carried on a small aircraft. Security personnel very likely do not understand that while a car can be "packed" with explosives, a plane cannot. It can only lift off the ground what the wings will permit. Again, 500 lbs MINUS the weight of the pilot. Expecting the same type of 'threat' damage from a small, General Aviation aircraft that was experienced from that of a commercial airliner, makes no logical sense.

When the Cessna 150 violated the airspace on May 11, 2005 it took intercepting aircraft over 30 minutes to reach the airplane whose best airspeed, on a good day, will be a sustained 90 knots (103 MPH). The radius of the ADIZ from the prohibited airspace surrounding the White House is about 30 miles. The violating aircraft covered the 30 mile radius in about 30 minutes, which is about a 60 MPH closing velocity. Cars travel faster on the DC Beltway than this aircraft achieved on closing the distance to the prohibited airspace from when it first entering the ADIZ. If this were a Boeing 757 violating the rules (shown above to be a more effective weapon), the distance from ADIZ entry to the prohibited airspace around the Capital would be about 3 to 4 minutes. Using this single piece of analysis, one has to conclude that the ADIZ doesn't exist to prevent commercial aircraft from being used again as a weapon, as the intercepting aircraft could never be expected to reach the aircraft in time to prevent a tragedy. One has to further conclude that the "threat" has to be something other than to use a General Aviation aircraft as a cruise missile.

The NRPM mentions using an aircraft for dispensing chemical or biological weapons. Although not specifically presented, this is very likely the threat that the ADIZ is trying to prevent. It would make sense to use a slow-moving airborne vehicle to dispense a chemical or biological agent from the air, as it would allow for the most area coverage in the shortest time. However, for most of these agents to be effective, they have to come in contact with skin. I suspect that the chemical and biological threat is the likely scenario that worries the DHS, otherwise there would be restrictions on rental trucks and cars allowed into the city (suspicions of being packed with explosives). Unfortunately, I cannot conclude this, as the reactions of the security personnel on the day of the May 11, 2005 ADIZ incursion was to get everyone from the buildings into the street, where they were more likely to be exposed to a chemical or biological threat than if they remained in the protection of the building. Logically, I still have to question the purpose of the ADIZ since it doesn't address the real threats to which we could be exposed. The NPRM appears is preparing to make permanent a system of rules and procedures that do not thwart a real threat, but one that is designed to thwart an imaginary threat. Otherwise, a 'protection' system that is being implemented by people who do not understand physics, aviation, or NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical).

However, something has to be done to address the emotional need. What makes sense?

If I were a terrorist, bent on inflicting harm over the nation's capital, I could still use a General Aviation aircraft to drop a chemical / biological agent within the ADIZ and SFRA rules. I could plan a flight and file a flight plan through the ADIZ, following all of the rules, and then suddenly turn into the FRZ to disperse my agent(s) or crash into a building before an aircraft could be launched. Transiting the 15-mile FRZ radius will take about 8 minutes before the aircraft is over the capital. A 30-minute ADIZ intercept time won't work. A 15 minute ADIZ intercept time will not work. If the intent is to deliver a bomb or a chemical or a biological agent, the same math / process applies. Nothing can be done to prevent this, unless all aircraft, including commercial aircraft, are permanently grounded (probably the desired DHS draconian solution). If a terrorist is bent on killing themselves, there is nothing anyone can do on the ground or in the air to prevent the tragedy, unless sufficient intelligence is obtained prior to the event. All a terrorist needs is the material and the opportunity to inflict the terror before security personnel can react. They will take the path of least resistance, that is likely to obtain the best result. Since the ADIZ (SFRA) does very little to nothing to prevent the 2 most obvious threats, why should we make it permanent?

I forgot. The DHS needs to do something.

High-level officials in the Federal Government acknowledge that the threat form General Aviation aircraft is low to non-existent. Why therefore, is there a continuing process to put something in place that has no value (other than the very large direct and indirect implementation and operational cost outlined in the NPRM analysis)? Why are General Aviation aircraft being singled out as the weapon of choice when excellent examples of car and truck bombs and backpack bombs are on the news every night?

I forgot. The DHS needs to do something.

I recommend that something of value be done to address real threats. The majority of pilots using the National Airspace are good people and are very concerned about the nation's security. We want to help. We also want to make sure that the right solution is established to address the right problem. The ADIZ (SFRA) doesn't do this. We will be just as safe in preventing an airborne attack without the ADIZ as we were before it was invoked.

Although I don't think it is effective, I could accept Alternative 4 as a compromise. I recommend that the millions of dollars that will be spent to implement something that will not work (SFRA) be spent on intelligence gathering and analysis, along with sensor systems to aid in the detection of explosives and chemical and biological agents. Focusing on only one option of delivery will do little to prevent a determined terrorist. Focusing on catching terrorists in the acquisition or fabrication of a terrorist device will be money well spent.

The SFRA is a bad idea. Is doesn't address the threat. It doesn't provide protection. It lulls us into a false sense of accomplishment and satisfaction; "that we are safe". I recommend that we (the FAA and DHS as well) do the right thing, and do what makes sense. The SFRA isn't the answer. It only permits the DHS to say that "something" was done, and "that we are safe".

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." --- Benjamin Franklin, 1759.