49 U.S.C. § 44903 - Air transportation security

Cite as49 U.S.C. § 44903

(a) DEFINITIONS.-In this section:

(1) ADMINISTRATOR.-The term "Administrator" means the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration.

(2) LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL.-The term "law enforcement personnel" means individuals-

(A) authorized to carry and use firearms;

(B) vested with the degree of the police power of arrest the Administrator considers necessary to carry out this section; and

(C) identifiable by appropriate indicia of authority.

(b) PROTECTION AGAINST VIOLENCE AND PIRACY.-The Administrator shall prescribe regulations to protect passengers and property on an aircraft operating in air transportation or intrastate air transportation against an act of criminal violence or aircraft piracy. When prescribing a regulation under this subsection, the Administrator shall-

(1) consult with the Secretary of Transportation, the Attorney General, the heads of other departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States Government, and State and local authorities;

(2) consider whether a proposed regulation is consistent with-

(A) protecting passengers; and

(B) the public interest in promoting air transportation and intrastate air transportation;

(3) to the maximum extent practicable, require a uniform procedure for searching and detaining passengers and property to ensure-

(A) their safety; and

(B) courteous and efficient treatment by an air carrier, an agent or employee of an air carrier, and Government, State, and local law enforcement personnel carrying out this section; and

(4) consider the extent to which a proposed regulation will carry out this section.


(1) The Administrator shall prescribe regulations under subsection (b) of this section that require each operator of an airport regularly serving an air carrier holding a certificate issued by the Secretary of Transportation to establish an air transportation security program that provides a law enforcement presence and capability at each of those airports that is adequate to ensure the safety of passengers. The regulations shall authorize the operator to use the services of qualified State, local, and private law enforcement personnel. When the Administrator decides, after being notified by an operator in the form the Administrator prescribes, that not enough qualified State, local, and private law enforcement personnel are available to carry out subsection (b), the Administrator may authorize the operator to use, on a reimbursable basis, personnel employed by the Administrator, or by another department, agency, or instrumentality of the Government with the consent of the head of the department, agency, or instrumentality, to supplement State, local, and private law enforcement personnel. When deciding whether additional personnel are needed, the Administrator shall consider the number of passengers boarded at the airport, the extent of anticipated risk of criminal violence or aircraft piracy at the airport or to the air carrier aircraft operations at the airport, and the availability of qualified State or local law enforcement personnel at the airport.


(A) The Administrator may approve a security program of an airport operator, or an amendment in an existing program, that incorporates a security program of an airport tenant (except an air carrier separately complying with part 108 or 129 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations) having access to a secured area of the airport, if the program or amendment incorporates-

(i) the measures the tenant will use, within the tenant's leased areas or areas designated for the tenant's exclusive use under an agreement with the airport operator, to carry out the security requirements imposed by the Administrator on the airport operator under the access control system requirements of section 107.14 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, or under other requirements of part 107 of title 14; and

(ii) the methods the airport operator will use to monitor and audit the tenant's compliance with the security requirements and provides that the tenant will be required to pay monetary penalties to the airport operator if the tenant fails to carry out a security requirement under a contractual provision or requirement imposed by the airport operator.

(B) If the Administrator approves a program or amendment described in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, the airport operator may not be found to be in violation of a requirement of this subsection or subsection (b) of this section when the airport operator demonstrates that the tenant or an employee, permittee, or invitee of the tenant is responsible for the violation and that the airport operator has complied with all measures in its security program for securing compliance with its security program by the tenant.

(C) MAXIMUM USE OF CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WEAPON DETECTION EQUIPMENT.-The Secretary of Transportation may require airports to maximize the use of technology and equipment that is designed to detect or neutralize potential chemical or biological weapons.

(3) PILOT PROGRAMS.-The Administrator shall establish pilot programs in no fewer than 20 airports to test and evaluate new and emerging technology for providing access control and other security protections for closed or secure areas of the airports. Such technology may include biometric or other technology that ensures only authorized access to secure areas.

(d) AUTHORIZING INDIVIDUALS TO CARRY FIREARMS AND MAKE ARRESTS.-With the approval of the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, the Administrator may authorize an individual who carries out air transportation security duties-

(1) to carry firearms; and

(2) to make arrests without warrant for an offense against the United States committed in the presence of the individual or for a felony under the laws of the United States, if the individual reasonably believes the individual to be arrested has committed or is committing a felony.

(e) EXCLUSIVE RESPONSIBILITY OVER PASSENGER SAFETY.-The Administrator has the exclusive responsibility to direct law enforcement activity related to the safety of passengers on an aircraft involved in an offense under section 46502 of this title from the moment all external doors of the aircraft are closed following boarding until those doors are opened to allow passengers to leave the aircraft. When requested by the Administrator, other departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the Government shall provide assistance necessary to carry out this subsection.

(f) GOVERNMENT AND INDUSTRY CONSORTIA.-The Administrator may establish at airports such consortia of government and aviation industry representatives as the Administrator may designate to provide advice on matters related to aviation security and safety. Such consortia shall not be considered Federal advisory committees for purposes of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.).



(A) ADMINISTRATOR TO PUBLISH SANCTIONS.-The Administrator shall publish in the Federal Register a list of sanctions for use as guidelines in the discipline of employees for infractions of airport access control requirements. The guidelines shall incorporate a progressive disciplinary approach that relates proposed sanctions to the severity or recurring nature of the infraction and shall include measures such as remedial training, suspension from security-related duties, suspension from all duties without pay, and termination of employment.

(B) USE OF SANCTIONS.-Each airport operator, air carrier, and security screening company shall include the list of sanctions published by the Administrator in its security program. The security program shall include a process for taking prompt disciplinary action against an employee who commits an infraction of airport access control requirements.

(2) IMPROVEMENTS.-The Administrator shall-

(A) work with airport operators and air carriers to implement and strengthen existing controls to eliminate airport access control weaknesses;

(B) require airport operators and air carriers to develop and implement comprehensive and recurring training programs that teach employees their roles in airport security, the importance of their participation, how their performance will be evaluated, and what action will be taken if they fail to perform;

(C) require airport operators and air carriers to develop and implement programs that foster and reward compliance with airport access control requirements and discourage and penalize noncompliance in accordance with guidelines issued by the Administrator to measure employee compliance;

(D) on an ongoing basis, assess and test for compliance with access control requirements, report annually findings of the assessments, and assess the effectiveness of penalties in ensuring compliance with security procedures and take any other appropriate enforcement actions when noncompliance is found;

(E) improve and better administer the Administrator's security database to ensure its efficiency, reliability, and usefulness for identification of systemic problems and allocation of resources;

(F) improve the execution of the Administrator's quality control program; and

(G) work with airport operators to strengthen access control points in secured areas (including air traffic control operations areas, maintenance areas, crew lounges, baggage handling areas, concessions, and catering delivery areas) to ensure the security of passengers and aircraft and consider the deployment of biometric or similar technologies that identify individuals based on unique personal characteristics.


(1) IN GENERAL.-The Administrator, in consultation with the airport operator and law enforcement authorities, may order the deployment of such personnel at any secure area of the airport as necessary to counter the risk of criminal violence, the risk of aircraft piracy at the airport, the risk to air carrier aircraft operations at the airport, or to meet national security concerns.

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