Cablegate: Civair Safety/Security Update

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Civair Safety/Security Update

Ref: (A) Ankara 979 (B) Ankara 262

1. (U) This is an action cable. Please see para 10.


2. (SBU) In March 5 discussions on air safety and
security issues, GOT officials told us that transport
and security officials had not yet taken a policy
decision on Department of Homeland Security's (DHS')
emergency amendments on posting armed law enforcement
officers (LEOs) on planes. A Turkish National Police
official told us that, notwithstanding the lack of a
specialized training program and other preparations, the
GOT would post an armed LEO if the alternative was
flight cancellation. GOT officials also explained that
physical renovations at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport
were the reason for a delay in returning to border and
customs checks at the first airport of entry in Turkey.
There appears to be no change in the status of air
safety-related legislation. End Summary.

2. (U) Econoff and Econ Specialist discussed air safety
and security issues on March 5 with: Haydar Yalcin,
Department Head in the Directorate General of Civil
Aviation (DGCA), Turgay Sahan, Airport Division Head at
the Security General Directorate of the Turkish National
Police (TNP), Erdal Kaynak, TNP Protection Department,
Ayten Eler, of the MFA Aviation Department, and Osman
Tural and Ali Ariduru, advisors to the Minister of
Transport and Communications.

DHS Aviation Emergency Amendments

3. (SBU) Sahan recently told us that the National Civil
Aviation Security Council discussed the Department of
Homeland Security's (DHS') amendments on posting armed
law enforcement officers (LEOs) on planes. NCASC
directed GOT agencies and the airlines to commence
studies and make other preparations (ref A). In our
March 4 discussion, he elaborated and qualified this
readout, noting that, while studies were ongoing, a
policy decision on whether to post LEOs in fact had not
been taken. The GOT is waiting for the results of a May
meeting of the European Civil Aviation Comission (ECAC)
at which this issue will be discussed. In response to
Econoff's question as to what the GOT would do if TSA
offered the choice of canceling a flight or posting a
Turkish LEO, Sahan said the GOT would not cancel the

4. (SBU) In a conversation with Transport Ministry
advisors later that day, Econoff relayed Sahan's
comments on this issue. Osman Tural opined that, if
such a situation arose, the GOT would cancel the flight.

5. (SBU) Comment: In an earlier meeting (ref B), TNP
had also said that GOT agencies were studying the issue,
but that, in an emergency, an LEO with aviation
experience could be called on to perform this duty.
However, this officer would not have received
specialized air marshal training. End Comment.

Plans to Fix Gap in Immigration/Customs Control
--------------------------------------------- --

6. (SBU) As reported ref A, the GOT decided at the
February meeting to take steps to return to a system
requiring passengers to clear customs and border control
at the initial point of entry to Turkey, but the change
will not be implemented for several months. TNP told us
that the reason for the delay is that Istanbul Ataturk
Airport must be renovated in order to enable passengers
to claim and recheck their luggage. Embassy will press
the GOT to accelerate implementation.

Air Safety

7. (U) Econoff outlined FAA concerns about deficiencies
in air safety oversight and DGCA difficulties in
retaining experienced staff, and asked GOT interlocutors
about the status of draft legislation intended to
address these concerns. We also noted that FAA was
prepared to participate in operations and airworthiness
training in June and July.
8. (SBU) Yalcin responded that he was looking forward to
the FAA training, but that problems retaining
experienced staff were ongoing and had compelled DGCA to
postpone the training until this summer. Yalcin, who is
responsible for flight standards, said he could not
comment on the draft legislation because he had not seen
it. The Transport Minister's advisors appeared to be
unfamiliar with these issues and said they would look
into them. However, they registered some unease on the
issue of DGCA autonomy, claiming that air safety
oversight organizations in a number of European
countries were not autonomous. Econoff responded that
FAA sought to ensure Turkish compliance with ICAO
standards in this area.

9. (SBU) TNP officials told us privately that DGCA staff
were not focused on security issues, and had left much
of the work in this area to TNP. The same officials,
alluding to the difficulty of working with DGCA in this
area, told us that they had formally suggested that
airport security responsibilities be transferred from
TNP at the February National Civil Aviation Security
Council (NCASC) meeting. The suggestion was not

10. (SBU) Action Request for DHS/TSA Paris: Embassy
requests a response to ref B relaying TNP's request for
background information on the organization and financing
of the U.S. sky marshal program, and encouraging DHS/TSA
to consider training possibilities for the GOT in this
area. Given that the GOT is apparently inclined to put
LEOs who have not been trained as air marshals on
flights, we request that TSA consider this request on a
priority basis and consider whether, in the absence of
this training, it should offer the Turks the option of
putting an armed LEO on flights destined for the United

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