Introduction (Background of Actors):
There are quite a few actors in respect to interest groups and domestic airline safety. The interest groups come from varying backgrounds of business, labor, government and public interest. The actors that we are focused on are the domestic airline companies, the aerospace industry, private security firms, various labor groups, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Transportation (DOT), Congress, The World Conference on Transportation Research Society (WCTRS) and the American people.
The business sector plays a major role in our domestic airline safety policies. This particular sector covers the commercial airline industry itself, the manufacturing industry and the private security firms that run security operations in our national and international airports. The major commercial airlines (i.e. Alaska, American, Delta, TWA, United, America West, Northwest, Southwest and US Airways) are instrumental in our decision. The airlines are looking to maximize profit in our capitalist economy and do not wish to bear a major burden financially in our policy. The airlines wish to increase security at the airports and on the airplanes, but are asking for government help financially. With the $15 billion bailout that was recently given the airlines have been able to function without a significant loss. However the problem with this is that the airlines are looking at each fiscal quarter as the progress within their company and are not looking years in advance as to what the impacts of their decisions are.
The manufacturers (i.e. Lockheed-Martin and Boeing) are too looking to make a profit in the economy. The manufacturers concluded that with the attacks there would be a decrease in commercial air travel and thus a decrease in demands for new airplanes by the commercial airlines. With this conclusion the major manufacturers have laid off thousands of employees that would be working in our economy. Again, the problem is that the manufacturers are looking to make a profit now and not looking at the long term goals for their company and society. The manufacturers simply want the airlines to keep purchasing commercial aircraft so they can continue to make a profit from it.
Lastly, in the business sector, we see the private security firms. These firms operate security within the airport and have no federal oversight. These firms are free to train their own people, pay their own wages, without the airlines, the airport, state or federal intervention. These firms know that their security at the checkpoints has been questioned and lax, but do wish to continue operating security at our national and international airports, knowing that some reforms at the federal level must be made. They want to continue to be the main security for the airports.
All in all, the business sector is very powerful in this particular policy making decision. The two main industries dealing with the airplanes themselves are the most powerful. The airline industry, commercial airlines and manufacturers, employ hundreds of thousands of workers each. These firms will be accommodated by us in our decision making progress.
The Labor Organizations are very powerful in numbers. The organizations enjoy participation from many thousands of airline employees. The main labor organizations are The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). The first three of these groups are all in a common field. The groups are looking to maintain steady work, which they know they will since Americans need to fly, and to provide for a greater security. ALPA, just last week, was in front of Congress trying to pass legislation that would allow pilots to carry loaded handguns into the cockpit. ALPA and APFA know that their members are directly in the line of danger when it comes to hijacked airliners. These two groups want to do what it takes to increase security before, during and after flight. NATCA is simply looking into ways of being able to detect that a plane is hijacked or run off course. There are some devices in place now, but none that are foolproof. Members of IAM are looking to make sure that the manufacturing plants and in turn the commercial airlines stay in full business so that they will remain working. At any cost IAM wants to make sure that the attacks will not indirectly cost them their jobs.
Overall, while the labor organizations are powerful, they must first go through their own industries before we can or they can satisfy our nations needs right now.
There are two main actors in the government sector of our domestic airline safety policy. There are the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), who reports to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the United States Congress, to whom we will propose our policy.
The FAA, is the division of the DOT that is responsible for all United States airspace and enforces all regulations upon the airlines, the airplanes and the airports. The FAA is basically under our chain of command and truly will enforce policy once it is approved. The FAA is looking to heighten security measures at the airport and in the air. The FAA wants more federalized security at airports and an increase in the Federal Air Marshal Program. These increases will require an increase in the budget of the DOT and the FAA.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is the United States government authority responsible for maintaining the standards of the United States aviation industry. The NTSB will play a core role in our policy, because they will be the authority over all the new safety regulations put in place through our policy. The NTSB is going to ask for an increase in budget to make sure that they have the man and financial power capable of coordinating the vast new safety regulations we propose.
The United States Congress is at the end of the line once our policy is formulated. At this current time, our administration has full support of both chambers of Congress, politically and financially. In the House of Representatives we must propose our policy to the Aviation subcommittee within the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. We most likely will also have to brief the National Security Committee and the Committee on Intelligence, due to our proposals within the FAA. In the Senate, our main priority is to gather full support from the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Again we most likely will brief the Intelligence Committee.
The public interest is skyrocketing with the notion of domestic airline safety. There are a few interest groups that deal with the public’s view of safety on airplanes. One of which is the WCTRS, or World Conference on Transportation Research Society. Within the WCTRS, there are two subdivisions, which would deal with the notion of airline safety. Subdivision number three which is Safety Analysis and Policy and subdivision number eight which is Air Transport Research Group. What this particular group tries to do is “good research on the globalization of airline industry requir(ing) expertise in various disciplines (economics, engineering, law, management, operations, planning and others) as well as good knowledge of the international, regional, and national institutions and regulations related to air transportation.” (www.ish-lyon.cnrs.fr/let/wctrs/wctr.htm) This group will be seeking to do what their intended goals are, to research and give recommendations to the various administrations as to airline safety.
Throughout history, when tragedies strike close one’s heart, advocacy increases. We too have seen this occurrence with plane disasters. Bob Monetti, president of the group called Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, is one. This group has already voiced their opinion that Libya should be placed on the rogue nations list of state sponsored terrorism. This group is using this tragedy in the United States to voice their longing concerns over losing their loved ones over 12 years ago in Lockerbie, Scotland. Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, represent 160 of the 189 American passengers on board that flight. This group was instrumental in pushing for a trial in the International Court of Justice of the two detained Libyans.
However, these groups pale in comparison to the largest public interest group to emerge from this tragedy. The American people and all those in this society are voicing their dissatisfaction with the current plight of security in our nation’s airports. The people are not sure exactly what they want done, but they are sure that this administration needs to do something. The people want stricter security regulations, they want peace of mind in an airplane, however, do not want their civil liberties disturbed.
All in all, the public’s interest in this policy in unclear. The American people are the interest that is looking for service, but they are not sure what they want. Doing anything to change airport security, minimally or maximally, will appease most.
Mr. President, Chief of Staff and Senior Advisors, while all these various groups have significant claim to a portion of the domestic airline safety policy we look to propose, only a few will be satisfied. The business sector of the airline industry, the major commercials and the manufacturers will be helped. The American public interest will be served, whether to simply appease them back into flying or to actually truly make a difference in the safety of our airplanes. The government sector of this interest will be served. The FAA, NTSB, DOT and Congress will all see some sort of action from or because of this policy decision. The group that will be left out is the labor organizations. The capitalist, big business administration will look to better protect the pilots and flight attendants of our airplanes, but not because they ask for it, because the American people are asking for it. All in all, as with most policy making, big business will win out and as a result of the government’s intervention in this matter, the government too will win financially and politically.