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DHS Achieves Major Aviation Security Milestone One Month Ahead of Schedule

Release Date: 
November 30, 2010

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

DHS now vetting 100 percent of passengers on flights within or bound for U.S. against watchlists

Washington, D.C. - Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced that 100 percent of passengers on flights within or bound for the United States are now being checked against government watchlists - fulfilling a key 9/11 Commission recommendation a month ahead of schedule. The TSA reached 100 percent watch list matching for all domestic airlines on June 22.

Under Secure Flight, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) prescreens passenger name, date of birth and gender against terrorist watchlists before passengers receive their boarding passes. In addition to facilitating secure travel for all passengers, the program helps prevent the misidentification of passengers who have names similar to individuals on government watchlists. Prior to Secure Flight, airlines held responsibility for checking passengers against watchlists.

“Each and every one of the security measures we implement serves an important goal: providing safe and efficient air travel for the millions of people who rely on our aviation system every day,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Secure Flight makes air travel safer for everyone by screening every passenger against the latest intelligence before a boarding pass is issued.”

“The threats we face in the aviation sector are real and evolving, and we must confront them with strong and dynamic security measures,” said TSA Administrator John S. Pistole. “Secure Flight bolsters our efforts to be more intelligence-driven and risk-based in our approach to aviation security. Our industry partners’ strong commitment to security was critical to reaching the full implementation of this vital counterterrorism program ahead of schedule.”

“We are pleased that DHS and TSA, with the cooperation of ATA and its member airlines, were able to reach this important security milestone ahead of schedule,” said Air Transport Association President and CEO James C. May. “We look forward to working with them and their security counterparts around the world to continue to improve security while streamlining passenger processing – a win-win for everyone.”

Passengers are required to provide their full name as it appears on the government ID they plan to use when traveling, date of birth, gender and, if applicable, Redress Number when booking their airline reservations. TSA adheres to strict protocols to protect individual privacy when conducting security checks.

Under Secure Flight, 99 percent of passengers are cleared to print boarding passes at home or at a self-serve kiosk. Individuals found to match watchlist parameters will be subject to secondary screening, a law enforcement interview or prohibition from boarding an aircraft, depending on the specific case.

TSA deploys a risk-based, layered security approach that utilizes a range of measures, both seen and unseen, including advanced technology, law enforcement, intelligence, terrorist watchlist checks and international collaboration.

Since the attempted terrorist attack on December 25, 2009, Secretary Napolitano, in conjunction with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), has been leading a global initiative to strengthen the international aviation system against the evolving threats posed by terrorists, working in multilateral and bilateral contexts with governments as well as industry.

Over the past year, Secretary Napolitano has participated in regional aviation security summits around the world, forging historic consensus with her international colleagues to strengthen the civil aviation system through enhanced information analysis and sharing, cooperation on technological development and modernized aviation security standards.

These meetings culminated in the ICAO Triennial Assembly at the beginning of October where the Assembly adopted a historic Declaration on Aviation Security, which forges a historic new foundation for aviation security that will better protect the entire global aviation system from evolving terrorist threats.

For more information about TSA’s Secure Flight program, visit www.tsa.gov

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