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Pilot Team Meets to Evaluate Missile Threat and Solutions

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 Washington - Apr 07, 2004
A special task force of the Air Line Pilots Association, the union that represents most of the nation's airline pilots, met today to continue its evaluation of the risks and potential defensive measures against terrorist missile attacks by MANPADS (man-portable air defense systems) on commercial airliners.

"The goal of this special team is to assess the MANPADS threat and manage the available resources needed to effectively deal with it. We are attempting to determine the actual risk levels associated with an attack and what would be the appropriate countermeasures to deploy commensurate with that risk," said Capt. Dennis Dolan, ALPA's first vice president and chairman of its MANPADS Project Team.

"The threat is not new, but it is real, especially in the current environment. We do not want to leap to conclusions based on perceptions. We are going to work toward a realistic assessment using a factual, data-driven process, much like the data-driven techniques now being used to analyze airline accidents and then develop effective preventive measures for accidents.

"We also need to develop procedures and advisories for pilots. Last but not least, we have to calculate the costs associated with any countermeasure system and determine who is going to pay for it," Dolan said.

The ALPA team, composed of pilots and staff from both the engineering and security disciplines, held its first meeting in February and will meet again in May.

"Our intent is not to replace or preempt the MANPADS analysis being undertaken by the Department of Homeland Security. We view our analysis as a parallel effort that focuses on these issues from the perspective of the pilots who fly the airliners. Prudence dictates that we must be prepared for the eventuality of another terrorist attack," Dolan said.

ALPA represents 64,000 airline pilots at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.

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