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TSA Fails to Provide Aviation Security Training Guidelines

Date: June 22, 2004

Agency Ignores Mandate, Friend Tells Senate Panel

WASHINGTON -Maintaining that the needs of flight attendants to adequately perform aviation security functions have been "delayed, denied and ignored," Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Pat Friend today urged U.S. senators to force the government to issue standards for flight attendant security training.

"The job of a flight attendant is first to protect the flying public," Friend told the Senate Commerce Committee during a hearing on aviation security. "Unbelievably, almost three years after the horrific events of September 11th, 2001, we still have not been trained to appropriately handle a security crisis or terrorist attack onboard our airplanes."

The 9-11 Commission has observed that hijackers on that tragic day "beat the last line of defense on the four flights because the professionals had been trained to cooperate with hijackers, not fight them." Ironically, the terrorists' mission aboard the plane believed destined for either the Capitol or the White House was thwarted when flight attendants and passengers departed from that erroneous guideline.

Friend noted that despite four reminders from Congress-most recently in report language of the Homeland Security Appropriations bill passed by the House last week-the Transportation Security Administration has yet to fulfill its congressional mandate to issue training guidelines for airline-provided comprehensive anti-terrorism training for flight attendants. Such trainings as exist are wildly inconsistent, some limited to a 20-minute video, yet all have received the government's blessing.

"It is clear that the airlines will continue to provide inadequate and weak training programs until the TSA does its job and issues regulations that require a standardized, industry-wide, meaningful security training program," Friend said.

More than 46,000 flight attendants join together to form AFA, the world's largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000 member strong Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afanet.org.

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