U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
U.S. Rep. Don Young, Chairman

Contact:  Steve Hansen (Director of Communications)  (202) 225-7749
    Email: [email protected]
         Justin Harclerode (Deputy Director of Communications)  (202) 226-8767
        Email: [email protected]

June 15, 2005 

Bill Requiring Missile Defense Protections For Airbus A380 Aircraft Introduced In Congress

“Aircraft With Capacity To Carry 800 Passengers Is An Irresistible Target” - Chairman Mica

        Washington, D.C. - Legislation that requires the installation of anti-terrorist missile defense systems on Airbus A380 aircraft - the largest commercial passenger plane - was introduced today by U.S. Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Aviation.

        Mica’s legislation (H.R. 2905) directs the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to require the counter-MANPADS (Manned Portable Air Defense Systems) equipment on Airbus A380 aircraft within two years of the equipment being certified by the FAA.

        Mica was one of the primary authors of the aviation security legislation approved after the September 11th terrorist attacks and has sponsored several other aviation anti-terrorism bills.

        "Shoulder-launched missiles or MANPADS continue to be one of the greatest threats to commercial aviation,” Mica said.  “While it may be difficult to attack domestic aviation in light of the security measures we have put into place, the availability of MANPADS is a cause for concern.

        “This legislation is the next logical step to protect commercial aviation from the threat posed by shoulder-fired missiles.  The U.S. Government has spent $161 million for the research and development of counter-MANPADS systems to protect commercial aircraft.

        “This bill sets a reasonable timeline.  The installation and operation of counter-MANPADS systems would not be required until two years after the systems are certified airworthy and safe by the FAA.

        “When you launch a new aircraft that can carry the population of a small village it must require - at a minimum - a missile defense system as standard operating equipment.

        “It is just plain common sense that an aircraft such as the Airbus A380, which has the capacity to carry as many as 800 people, nearly double the number of passengers that aircraft to date have been able to accommodate, is a potentially irresistible terrorist target.

        “We know that terrorists, particularly al-Qaeda, are looking for the means to cause the greatest destruction, largest number of casualties, and to bring the world economy to a standstill.

        “Moreover, we know that terrorists continue to consider commercial aviation an attractive target because of the public spectacle such attacks generate and because the world economy is increasingly dependent upon aviation.

        “MANPADS attacks are nothing new.  In fact, in the last three years, terrorists have used MANPADS against passenger aircraft in Africa and the Middle East.  Additionally, MANPADS are available on the gray and black market and at least 27 non-governmental entities, including al-Qaeda, have these weapon systems.

        “We must make every effort to protect commercial aviation from the threat posed by MANPADS.  It is logical to take a phased approach to such a challenging endeavor.  Therefore, starting with extremely large passenger aircraft capable of carrying such a large number of people - more people than live in some of the cities and towns in my District - makes good common sense.  These aircraft must be protected because they are especially attractive targets.”

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