Der Intercept-Mangel vor 9/11

Das System der Flugüberwachung in den USA war 9/11 nach dem Prinzip der Aufgabenteilung zwischen FAA, NORAD und USAF organisiert. Die FAA überwachte per eigenem Radar und ATC das Fluggeschehen über CONUS. NORAD überwachte über das Radar der USAF die ADIZ um den nordamerikanischen Kontinent (Details). Die FAA setzte NORAD im Fall auffälliger Flugbewegungen über CONUS in Kenntnis – im Fall einer Flugzeugentführung geschah dies über den Umweg des NMCC (Details, Punkt 1). NORAD zeichnete sich für das Abfangen [Intercept] der auffälligen Flugzeuge verantwortlich. Hierfür konnte NORAD auf sieben Air Force Bases des USAF an der Küste Nordamerikas zurückgreifen, die auf eine schnelle Reaktion ausgerichtet waren (Details). In den zehn Jahren vor 9/11 war es ein einziges Mal nötig, dass die FAA das NORAD für das Abfangen eines Zivilflugzeugs über CONUS kontaktieren musste (Details). Es handelte sich um einen Notfall aufgrund von Druckabfall. Flugzeugentführungen dagegen hatte es seit Jahrzehnten nicht mehr gegeben und der Posten des Entführungskoordinators, der auf Seiten der FAA im Entführungsfall das Militär einschaltet, wurde entsprechend stiefmütterlich behandelt (Details).

In der Draufsicht zeigen diese Fakten eine Diskrepanz zwischen Theorie bzw. Protokoll und Praxis bzw. Erfahrung: Während das arbeitsteilige Prinzip in der Theorie durchaus Schnittstellen in der Arbeit von FAA und NORAD im Fall eines Anfangvorgangs vorsah, gab es kaum praktische Intercept-Erfahrungen.
Ein weiterer Befund vom 11. September 2001 selbst illustriert den Auseinanderfall von Theorie und Praxis: Die Kommunikation zwischen ziviler und militärischer Luftraumüberwachung wurde 9/11 überhaupt erst durch eine Protokollverletzung in Gang gesetzt (Details, Punkt 2).

Die Aussagen von Mitarbeitern aus den 9/11 beteiligten Flugüberwachungszentren ZBW, ZNY, ZID und ZOB der FAA vor dem Staff der 9/11 Kommission bestätigen das Ergebnis der mangelnden Intercept-Erfahrung. Viele Mitarbeiter haben keine, einige wenige haben weit zurückliegende Erinnerungen, zeitnahe Erinnerungen betreffen wenn, dann Übungen, nicht tatsächliche Ereignisse (meine Herv.):

ZBW (Center Boston):

Terry Biggio, Operations Manager:

Pre-9/11 protocol for communicating a hijack threat to the military had been practiced but as far as Biggio knew they had never practiced intercept procedures. In such exercises all communication was handled through the ROC. […] Biggio noted that there is tension with the  military at times over the use of airspace, specifically regarding use of the Whiskey 105 and 106 military controlled airspace off the coast, but that this tension is normally negligible.

Daniel Bueno, Traffic Management Supervisor:

The procedure for active fighter scrambles was coordinated in the “Otis Cape TRACON Letter Agreement”, and Bueno had experience in the early 1980s with a scramble to escort an airplane out of Kennedy Airport. Bueno has not participated in any tabletop scramble exercises.

Joseph Cooper, Traffic Management Unit Coordinator:

Cooper identified TMU positions as departure spacing, en route spacing, arrival flow, military coordinator, and severe weather management. The en route spacing coordinator is responsible for the “metering” of air craft – at about 38 crossing into a new air space per hour. The military coordinator is responsible for clearing airspace for military training purposes. Al Trav is the term used when the military makes an “altitude reservation” – they receive these reservations when they plan on using an air “track” for mid-flight refueling.

William Dean, Traffic Management Unit Specialist:

Dean stated that the information conduit to the military was “muddled”, and that he would have expected a better procedure for the FAA to receive quick military assistance. He had never been involved in a situation in his experience in which the FAA called for military fighters, but had been involved in situations in which the military requests FAA ATCs to assist in locating targets.

John Hartling, Air Traffic Controller:

Regarding the military, Hartling has had contact with military flights on a regular basis at the pilot to controller level, but has no knowledge of the relationship at the managerial level. Before 9/11 Hartling did not have much knowledge though on the warning areas and hot areas monitored by the military, and learned much later from 9/11 that Otis could deploy defensive strike fighters. Prior to 9/11 Hartling has no “intercept” training with the military, and was aware that NORAD controls much of the highest altitude airspace.

Shirley Kula, Operations Supervisor:

Kula was unaware that military radar could find altitude, and she was not involved with the fighter scramble from Otis Air Force Base. Kula did vaguely recall a scramble in the “early 80s” off the eastern coast, but “certainly nothing since 1985.”

Steven Roebuck, Air Traffic Control Specialist:

Since 9/11 Roebuck noted that the military relationship with the FAA has changed. Roebuck views the ATC responsibility for conducting intercepts to be a much greater priority. This leaves a gray area in the knowledge base of an FAA certified controller. Most FAA controllers are not experienced with the factors governing a fighter in supersonic flight, and this knowledge gap could compromise a controller’s ability to successfully vector an intercept fighter to its target. Roebuck believes supersonic flight changes the vertical separation requirement. He is aware that the FAA forbids supersonic over the continental USA, but he is also aware that there are military priorities. Roebuck also informed Commission staff that military flights have their own broadcast mode, and that only the lead fighter will broadcast on the transponder mode C that FAA ATCs monitor. Roebuck noted that the training for an FAA ATC is to keep aircraft separated, whereas the mentality to conduct a successful intercept requires a controller to vector aircraft together. Roebuck sees deliberately bringing airplanes together as a different skill set. And he does not believe FAA Ares are adequately trained for this. Roebuck recommends FAA ATCs be trained to conduct intercepts. He noted that control over an intercept depending on time of day and density of air traffic is circumstantial. But if the situation permitted, he stated it would be better for the military to control its own flights. He also stated that FAA personnel should become acquainted with the military lexicon.

Jon Schippani, Operational Supervisor in Charge:

To get the closest military asset, Schippani noted he would contact Giant Killer out of the Virginia Capes. Giant Killer monitors low to mid altitudes along the east coast. He had an understanding of how to contact them by phone. [Staff Note: Giant Killer performs the Air Traffic Controller function in designated military warning areas over the ocean. It is a Navy organization with its control center at Oceana, Virgina.] Schippani noted that from his experience Otis Air Force Base was an unknown factor, and he would not know how to contact NEADS (North Atlantic Air Defense). Prior to 9/11 Schippani noted that Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) had no input in the coordination over airspace with the military, unless there was an “aircraft transfer”.

ZNY (New York):

Charles Alfaro, Operations Supervisor:

Alfaro commented that his hijack procedure prior to the events of 9/11 was to verify the hijack with the pilot via the hijack code, “7500″, and to notify his supervisor that a hijack was in progress. The standard procedure was not to make inquiries with the pilot in the cockpit to avoid escalating events. Any request for military assistance would be handled at the OMIC level.

Lorraine Barrett, Air Traffic Controller:

She has participated as a controller with military aircraft out of McGuire Air Force Base and Warren Grove (military airspace just above Atlantic City). She wouldn’t have known how to contact NEADS then, but they now have a direct line to Huntress Controll (NEADS). Pre 9-11 she had never heard of anything like what happened that day. Planes out of communication, NORDO, happened all the time and still happens but a little less. In the past two years the pilots have gotten better.

David Bottiglia, Air Traffic Controller:

Bottliglia was not aware of procedures to notify the military, or of procedures to ask for military assistance in the case of a hijack. His only training was to tell his supervisor in the case of a possible hijack. Bottiglia understood that the Traffic Management Unit (TMU) had responsibility to make decisions regarding procedure and contacts in the case of a hijack. At the working position his job was to relay information through command. […] Bottiglia noted to Commission staff that he has never been involved in a real life military intercept on a hijack and has never participated in a simulation that would vector a military aircraft towards a target. He noted to Commission staff that he understands usually HUNTRESS and/or GIANT KILLER are contacted by the FAA to coordinate air traffic controls for the warning areas. He knew of the Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), but did not know that the call sign HUNTRESS was for NEADS. He was not familiar with a number to call other than NEADS. He was not aware of how to contact NORAD.

Evanna Dowis, Air Traffic Controller:

Dowis’ experience with the FAA, military and DoD all included some form of yearly hijack response training. Training would include computer based instruction and a review of procedures and rules. All the training scenarios Dowis had experienced involved the hijack of only one airplane. Dowis described the procedure for FAA notification of a hijack to the  military as follows. The ATC should notify the CIC or area supervisor regarding a hijack. The CIC or area supervisor is responsible for notifying the OMIC. The OMIC, in turn, notifies the military.
Dowis noted that there have already been changes at ZNY since 9/11. There are now military blocks/caps over airspace. She also believes the OMIC has a direct line to the military. Memorandums issued on a regular basis instruct controllers to be constantly aware of current procedures. With regard to the relationship between the FAA and the military over the division of airspace, Dowis stated that the military for the most part gets what it needs from the FAA. She acknowledged that the military can make an ATC’s job harder, but the military’s requests are accommodated quickly in today’s world.

Robert Felser, Military Operations Specialist:

Felser noted the first real world aircraft scramble he was involved with occurred on 9/11. Otherwise, most of his experience with fighter scrambles was to facilitate the passage of the fighters through airspace (typically six to thirty-two thousand feet) for fighters to run training exercises. Felser noted that NEADS ran exercises that practiced for an unidentified aircraft entering a warning area.

Martin Fournier, Operations Supervisor:

Fournier noted that he had received briefings and refresher training – requirements and procedures with handling hijack and what to do if they need to be intercepted. He stated that he did an intercept “out west years ago” for a hijack.

James Kurz, TMU Coordinator:

Kurz explained the FAA procedures in place prior to 9/11 for securing military assistance during a hijack. Kurz understood that someone from ZNY would call NEADS and ask for help. Neads in turn would scramble military aircraft to track the hijacked aircraft until it landed safely. When Kurz worked the MOS position, he recalled he was involved with military “practice scrambles” on a few occasions. Prior to 9-11, Kurz had limited knowledge regarding the function of Otis AFB. He was not aware of the locations of Air Force bases where alert aircraft were housed on 9-11.

David LaCates, Deputy Operations Manager:

LaCates was not aware of any further steps to be taken by the center beyong contacting the military that the FAA is responsible for regarding a fighter scramble. LaCates further commented that at his level of authority he has no ability to contact specific military air defense assets. He believes that the OMIC (Operations Manager in Charge) has the responsibility and operational knowledge to contact the military.
LaCates commented that ATCs from McGuire AFB were at ZNY during the time period in which ZNY assumed their airspace. He noted that McGuire AFB’s air traffic capability is primarily approach control. It was not until after 9/11 that LaCates became aware that NEADS and Customs could ascertain altitude on a primary only aircraft.

Peter McCloskey, Traffic Management Coordinator:

He was not aware of the procedures to obtain military assistance for a hijack. Air traffic procedures would be to render any assistance asked for by the pilot and notify supervisor. He had no knowledge of what supervisors do in hijack situations. His knowledge is based specifically on the role of the controller. There is no separate training to man a position at the Traffic Management Unit (TMU). Everyone in TMU is a controller. […] McCloskey was not really familiar with the Northeast Air Defense Sector and what role it played. Prior to 9/11 he had never participated in any joint FAA/military exercise. Not post either. No idea of military ROE on hijacks. Unaware of escort and engage order officially, but assumes they have that authority now. FAA could have a role in vectoring military aircraft to target.

Mike McCormick, Air Traffic Manager:

Prior 9/11 had direct line capability to NEADS. When spoke of military priority to Paul and Ivonna, thought OMIC would make call on how to contact NEADS, direct or commercial line. Was not aware that Boston had already called. AMIS – unknown. Military radar has alt on primary? Knows they can do that, does not know where they can do that. At one point during event Filsner said it was tough to get the number. Procedures are much more defined now to contact military.
Thumser and scramble McGuire comment – took it as an emotional reaction to events. Said to no one in particular. Knew there were no fighters or tactical capabilities. Were not on hot pads or anything like that.
Was aware that on 9/11 ac did not have air defense capability for at least a year or two. Bradley in ct capability for air defense? No. Knew they needed tactical air defense fighters out of new England.
[…]
Pre 9/11 role of roc? They would then phone out information to the appropriate parties. Assume WOC, appropriate air traffic division, flight standards, security things like that. Official protocol to request military assistance? Center, roc, WOC, same time notifying various eastern region elements, WOC would have own guide, hijack coordinator, then at that level would start coordination with military: Then someone through Herndon would call ZNY and the military cell in Herndon would coordinate.

Mark Merced, Air Traffic Controller (ATC):

Merced noted that an FAA ATC has no authority to notify the military or Herndon. He notes that that is the responsibility of the supervisor for the area. Prior to 9/11 Merced had no experience with a military scramble exercise, but had worked on military exercises in the past through a small piece of airspace at 14,000 feet and below. Merced experienced no difficulty coordinating the use of this airspace for military purposes, besides a few instances in which the military aircraft “spill out” of the airspace assigned to them. He had no practice with the military on hijacking procedures, but felt prepared to vector a military aircraft to a target.

Anthony Palmieri, Air Traffic Controller:

Palieri commented that the military needs to provide an escort for a hijacked aircraft. He believes prior to 9/11 the military would scramble fighters to monitor a hijacked aircraft; but would not have orders in place to shoot it down.

Martin Rosenberg, TMU Supervisor:

Rosenberg noted to Commission staff that even prior to 9/11, the FAA had telephone lines to Northeast Air Defense Sector (aka HUNTRESS), and Giant Killer [Commission staff believes Giant Killer is a Navy operation that controls the east coast low altitude airspace]. Rosenberg does not know who answered those lines prior to 9/11, nor does he know if those entities could authorize a fighter scramble. Rosenberg continued by commenting that prior to 9/11 the FAA centers had very little awareness on how to’ communicate with the military. His only approach would have been to call the command center at Herndon, Virginia. He also noted that his knowledge of the location of air defense capabilities was limited to Otis AFB, Langley AFB and Atlantic City [Commission staff is aware that Atlantic City was not an active air defense base on 9/11]. Rosenberg further commented regarding military notification that he is not sure who had the direct responsibility for seeking military assistance, but he does not believe it is the responsibility of the center’s military operations specialist (MOS).

Paul Thumser, TMU Supervisor:

Prior to and on 9-11, concerning NORAD and NEADS, Thumser had reasonable awareness and thought it would take 5 or 6 phone calls to get there and they probably would have called an air force base. He was not familiar with Dynamic Simulation training concerning hijackings and had no computer or other training for hijacking. Operations supervisors do not go through the same training as controllers. Controller were only to a) get information and pass it and b) do what the pilots ask to do.
There were very few hijacks pre-9-11 for a controller to respond to in the real world. He recalled no exercises or drills-there was very little emphasis and drills. He had no knowledge of any exercises or drills sponsored by the FAA or the military and certainly none with multiple hijacking events.

ZID (Indianapolis):

Randy Kath, Quality Assurance:

Kath had dealt with two hijacked planes, one in either 1984 or 1985, and the other in the late 1980′s. For both of these instances, the pilot squawked the hijack code and Kath followed protocol. To his knowledge, NORAD was not contacted in either situation.

Linda Povinelli, Air Traffic Control Supervisor:

Povinelli had never before been involved in a hijack situation. She has participated in refresher training in the DYSIM, dynamic simulator about every six months. Povinelli had never been presented with a suicide hijack situation in this training.

Sally Weed, Support Manager for Operations:

Weed worked as a liaison for the FAA to NORAD from November 2001 to February 2002 in the Cheyenne Mountain Command Center. This position, created after 9/11, was volunteer and on a temporary basis. The purpose of this position was to bridge the gap in understanding between FAA air traffic controllers and military air traffic controllers. There were no operational duties associated with this position. 21 FAA people nationwide were involved with NORAD in a liaison position.
Weed noticed a vast difference in reaction to a NORDO situation. If the military were to loose radio contact with an aircraft, they would be on high alert and get ready to scramble. However, if the FAA were faced with a NORDO situation, which happens regularly, they would not panic, and try to regain contact with the aircraft. From Weed’s experience, she believes the military did not expect a threat from within the country since none of their large scale training drills took this scenario into account.
Since her experience in Cheyenne Mt, Weed now thinks that the sense of urgency has changed for both the military and the FAA. There is now a relationship between NORAD and the FAA. Before 9/11, Weed would not have thought to call NORAD in the event of a hijack; she would have notified her supervisor, John Thomas, who would have made further notifications.

ZOB (Cleveland):

Greg Dukeman, Military Operations Spezialist:

He does not remember what is in the Military Operations Manual or in any of the other materials provided to him about hijacking, and who to call in the event of one. To his knowledge, there was nothing he was supposed to do in the role of Military Operations Specialist in the TMU in the event of a hijacking. He does not know if he was supposed to call the military. He wouldn’t know who to call. There were certain military facilities he came into contact with through his job as coordinator, but he received no training on who to contact in the event of a crisis.

Mark Evans, Supervisor of the Traffic Management Coordinators:

Prior to 9-11, as a supervisor in a hijack situation he would have 1) isolated the aircraft on a separate frequency, 2) divert the plane away from the other aircraft, 3) the controller would try to get the pilot to squawk the appropriate code, and 4) notification the manager on duty. He did not think anyone at the Center was responsible for notifying the military. “Nothing in the requirements that he knows of to put military on alert right away,” he said. Commission staff asked if guidance would be given to the person in mil operations position to call the military in the event of hijacking? Evans said that “Analytical thinking is not what controllers are supposed to do. Even today, they wouldn’t make that decision.”
Today, a controller’s responsibilities are primarily the same. There are more explicit directions about notification to Washington Command Center. “Today, there is the live NORAD phone. First thing they would do is call it. Everyone knows immediately and the decision to scramble does not, and has never sat with us.”
Even if he wanted to notify the military on that day, he would not have known who to call. He reiterated that he would notify the Command Center, and focus on isolating the plane.

Linda Justice, Air Traffic Controller:

She experienced this situation (NORDO and no transponder) one time before in Chicago. It was a military plane. The controller handing off to her lost the primary target and delayed in telling her about it, and he was very close to a lot of planes. This was 20 years ago. Guy before me lost him. By the time they found him, he had flown through two other air spaces. They called everybody asking someone found him. He had gone through two others air spaces. It was a very uncomfortable situation at 17,000 feet during the eastbound push out of O’Hare. She reiterated, “Whether or not NORAD would be involved, my only responsibility was to tell the supervisor.”

Tom Kerinko, Military Operations Spezialist:

It was his understanding that in the event of a hijacking, NORAD would request vectors to the aircraft and they would put a fighter in position behind the airplane to follow it in. He never experienced this situation. Kerinko did not remember any changes to hijacking policy with regard to the FAA or the military during his time at Cleveland Center. Kerinko was involved with the development of Standard Operating Procedures for the persons handling selected positions including weather and military operations. They would refer to procedures he helped create if they had questions. He would go down to the control room to help work out problems with procedures in SOPs.
If fighters were going to go out and train in a certain air space, he wouldn’t be involved. Kerinko told the Commission staff that NORAD assigned an Air Defense Liaison Officer to FAA regional facilities to help work out problems. Cleveland Center is a part of the Great Lakes Region. There is an officer from each of the armed services. The position existed before 9-11 and nothing has changed.
[…]
Prior to 9-11, fighter scrambles went directly into special use airspace and had no bearing on regular air traffic. Scramble aircraft were always given priority treatment. Before 9-11, scrambles never used to scramble anywhere but north. Now, they can go anywhere. Clearing traffic – standard ATC separation for all aircrafts required for fighters too.

Richard Kettel, Air Traffic Manager:

In terms of procedures, what was normal to do in hijack situation? Since the 1970s when hijacking was “en vogue,” the point was to notify the authorities, isolate the airplane, and to provide what services the controller could, without jeopardizing the safety of the crew and passengers. He doesn’t know if that has changed as a result of 9-11. Operations managers have a checklist of who to contact in the event of a hijacking. First on the list is law enforcement. At an airport, the LEOs would be local, for instance. If the event takes place in the air, the RCC (regional communications center) would be contacted. He said that it is the responsibility of the RCC to contact the military. It would be their responsibility to contact the military if a plane went missing, as well. Kettel said, “Leave that all up to the RCC.” RCC is the military counterpart to the FAA. He thinks it is set up regionally, and that it is a part of the Air Force. It helps with “unusual stuff,” such as search and rescue missions.
NORAD was not on the list for the operations management position. He hasn’t worked that position since the 1970s. Operations manager always talks to the military directly in emergencies, etc. Kettel recommended that we look at his checklist. Bob Herak would have records of changes to the checklist. There is not much that law enforcement officials can do when situation is in the air. Relationship between FAA and NORAD before 9-11? Did they have a role in the hijacking response?
Relationship between FAA and NORAD was “less direct” than it is today. What we need is to be able to make one call in the event of a hijack. Don’t have the time to make multiple calls, especially when the plane is traversing airspaces. Kettel said he used to deal with NORAD when planning missions; in terms of blocking air space for them and preplanning their route. Kettel thinks Cleveland Center was unable to contact NORAD directly on 9-11, but he thinks they were on the phone bridge.

Kim Wernica, Operations Manager:

On September 10, 2001, Wernica thought that in the event of a hijacking the controller handling the plane was to tell the supervisor of the area who in tum told the manager. Then the manager would call the regional operations center. She does not know what NORAD is; so she probably would have called the Command Center, too. The management manual, known as 7210.3, would have provided her with directions. She knew of a military manual but she was not familiar with it before 9-11. “Now the military is part of our world,” she said.
[…]
She did not know what sort of communication existed between FAA and NORAD prior to 9-11. She had never heard of NEADS. An example she offered of normal communications with NORAD was: “when a communist aircraft flies through the airspace, the Center has to call Huntress to give the coordinates.”
Wernica said, “You’re a controller one day, a supervisor, an operations manager the next. Training for these different positions is nonexistent.” As Operations Manager, she received no additional training specific to a crisis situation.

John Werth, Air Traffic Controller:

When asked about NORAD, he said he was aware of it. He knew it was at Cheyenne Mountain and said that he thought is was the “the central command to safeguard all military planes.” His experience before 9-11 led him to believe that the military, in the event of a hijack, would “put a tail on the hijack to intercept them.” He also thought that the watch commander at the Center would have had direct access to NORAD.
When asked, “Did anyone notify the mil?” He said that he was told by Mark Bamik not to worry, that “it is taken care of.” According to Werth, he found out later that they had trouble getting through to the military during the crisis.

Leo Wolbers, Operations Manager:

Before 9-11, a controller encountering a flight believed to be hijacked, he would first tell the Command Center, then he would try to confirm it was a hijack. On September 10, 2001, he would not have thought NORAD would have been involved in resolving the hijack. He never thought about resolving the situation through a shootdown, the resolution involved getting the plane to land after negotiations.
He recalled that at one time, fighters were scrambled in response to a hijack in the Detroit area. This was a long time ago; he could not remember when. Other than that, he was involved in 2-3 hijackings in the 1970s.

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