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US Unveils New Steps to Protect Airliners

By Reuters / April 6, 1989



WASHINGTON

SAMUEL SKINNER, United States transportation secretary, has announced new steps the US will take to combat airline terrorism following the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland last December. The incident claimed 270 lives. He told a news conference this week that six recently developed explosives detectors would be installed at high-security airports in the US and overseas this year and early next year. At least another 100 of these devices, which can detect the type of explosive that destroyed the New York-bound flight, would be installed as soon as they can be built, he said.

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Mr. Skinner said the airlines would buy the devices, which cost up to $1 million each, adding ``we're going to allow the industry to do whatever's reasonable in the imposition of tariffs to create the necessary funding.'' He said the price of a ticket could be pushed up by between 20 cents and $1. His announcement follows new baggage-searching measures ordered last December.

Skinner said US airlines would be required to comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) security warnings. But he stopped short of implementing demands by families of the victims in the Pan Am bombing that threats be made public.

The FAA and British authorities had received threats that a Pan Am flight between West Germany and the US would be bombed sometime during a several-week period in late December, but it did not make it public.

Skinner also said he would seek closer cooperation between the US and foreign governments on sharing security information.