Don't Panic

Oct. 8, 2001


Destroy the industry and security is no longer an issue

By Paul Bowers, Publisher

October 2001

Driving for 25 hours versus flying for three was just one poignant reminder as to how we have taken air travel for granted as a part of our lives. Overnight delivery service and watching aircraft flying over my backyard are others. I will never take any of this for granted again.
Like the assassination of JFK, we will forever remember where we were when terrorists attacked Washington and New York, using the single most important tool of our trade as a weapon.
We were at the ACI-NA show in Montreal. With us were the leaders of most major airports, FAA, and well-placed airport suppliers and consultants. It was a real education watching and listening to how our airport leaders respond to a crisis. It was also beneficial to have this captive audience work with one another to discuss safety, security, crisis management, etc.
So what will happen next? Airports will lose customers ... and money. Airlines will lose lots of customers ... and money. Consumers will lose faith — a faith that our system works for and protects us.
It doesn’t have to be so. Overall our system has worked well. We can never ensure that our airports and aircraft are 100 percent safe. A balance between safety and profitability must be reached. We have been tilted too far toward the efficiency side.
Conversely, endless lines at airports’ check-in and security areas, the grounding of much of the general aviation fleet, and the closure of DCA are probably skewed too far on the side of security.
The only sure thing to result from this intrusive clampdown is that aviation will wither and die in the post-attack lockdown state. The remaining business coupled with the increased costs of operations will make aviation an economic wasteland.
We entertain risks in everything we do. Medicine, diet, and politics all have decisions that involve probabilities. Aviation is no different, nor has it ever been.
We can make aviation much safer than it currently is. But the real challenge is to make security harmonize with the growth of our aviation industry and our overall national economy, not to choke it to death.