TSA Bans Fuel

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Virginia, March 11, 2007 -- The Transportation Security Administration announced today that, effective immediately, all potentially explosive liquids are banned from all areas of commercial airliners. TSA assistant secretary Kip Hawley said the measure, an expansion of the various bans on liquids in the cargo and passenger holds issued last fall, was necessary to "enhance our safety and protect the public against terrorist attacks in order to preserve our uniquely American freedoms".

Under the new ruling, commercial airlines will be permitted to proceed with their regularly scheduled flights without interruption or government interference, but will not be permitted to fuel the aircraft.

"We see this much-needed security legislation as an excellent compromise between the desire to ensure passenger safety under the threat of the escalating war on terror, and the desire by the TSA not to impede the essential freedoms of Americans to use the facilities offered by our world-class air transportation system," Mr. Hawley said.

"Despite the fact that we are, as President Bush says, more safer from terrorism, the other fact that terrorism is rising astronomically forces us to take certain steps. This is one of them."

Under the new rules, TSA Directive 666-Yawl (March 2007), "explosive items, gadgets, doodads, diarrhea, limbs or liquids are not allowed in any portion of any aircraft slated to travel in an airborne fashion over the United States or its territories or protectorates."

Most common commercial jet airliners such as the Boeing 737, the Airbus A340 and the Tupolev Corvair require a volatile kerosene/paraffin oil-based fuel to operate their engines, which in turn are required to lift the aircraft from the ground up to an area above the ground and back again at the conclusion of the journey.

According to aviation specialist Allen Hagaman of the weekly periodical Flyer's Digest, requiring the airliners to operate without fuel may impede their ability to fly as effectively.

Delta Airlines spokesman Gustave Whitehead conceded that "the new regulations may have a minor effect on certain aspects of our regularly scheduled airborne operations, but we will do everything we can to minimize the impact on our customers. Most flyers will notice little or no difference between the new procedures and the traveling experience to which they are accustomed."

Mr. Whitehead said boarding and disembarkation procedures will remain virtually identical to their current state. The only point at which travelers may be affected by the volatile liquid ban will be during the so-called "middle part" of the journey.

"The ban does not apply to ground control and maintenance vehicles," Mr. Whitehead said. "That means we can still push the planes around on the tarmac with those little Lego-like vehicles. Passengers will board the plane normally, be strapped into their seats with the seat back in the upright position to ensure they stay fully tensed and awake throughout the taxiing process, then sit on the runway in that position for a period roughly equal to that of the anticipated airborne time of their scheduled flight."

"When that time has elapsed," Mr. Whitehead continued, "they will be returned to the departure gate for disembarkation, subjected to a new security check including cavity searches at the discretion of the TSA, then invited to enjoy an adventurous search for the taxi stands. The only difference is, they'll arrive back at the same place they left, which is a positive thing as it kind of skips the middleman."

"Luggage," Mr. Whitehead said, "will not be loaded onto the planes, but we hope to continue to lose it with a high degree of accuracy."

By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor

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