...As House Pressures FAA...

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In the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee, introduced a bill last month that would require the FAA to expedite the airworthiness certification of missile-defense systems for commercial aircraft. "The proliferation of shoulder-fired missiles is so widespread, so deep and so urgent that we have to go on defense and offence at the same time to protect ourselves," said Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), a co-sponsor of the bill. "That means accelerating our efforts to equip our planes with anti-missile countermeasures, while aggressively pursuing and implementing an international SAM-Ban treaty to control the proliferation of shoulder-fired missiles." Mica said, "MANPADS and explosives carried on board aircraft are two of the greatest threats to commercial aviation. This bill will address the threat posed by MANPADS and we are continuing to work closely with TSA to address the threat of explosives. This legislation ... is intended to make clear that while the Department of Homeland Security is conducting research and development of missile defense equipment for commercial aircraft, interim solutions to the threat posed by MANPADS should be taken." The bill includes a provision requiring the FAA to, when appropriate, expedite their airworthiness certification of missile-defense systems for commercial aircraft and to avoid duplicating the efforts taken by the DHS during the missile-defense system R & D program, and a provision requiring the DHS to report to Congress, within one year, on the vulnerability assessment reports they are conducting at U.S. airports and any ground-based defense policies or procedures recommended through that process.