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In response to some hijacking incidents abroad, an FAA advisory committee looks at the FAA’s longstanding “preemptive surrender” approach regarding the response to attempted hijackings. (Bovard 12/7/2005) This policy, called the Common Strategy, teaches “flight crews that the best way to deal with hijackers [is] to accommodate their demands, get the plane to land safely, and then let law enforcement or the military handle the situation,” according to the 9/11 Commission. (9/11 Commission 7/24/2004, pp. 85) Less than three months before 9/11, the FAA advisory committee decides to upgrade the training manuals and official guidance for responding to hijacking attempts. The updated materials are to be available some time in the fall of this year. FAA official Mike Morse says the new scenario prepared for in training “will be one involving a team of hijackers with a higher degree of sophistication and training.” In addition, the scenario will “replicate what we’ve faced in some of the international hijackings abroad in recent years.” (Bovard 12/7/2005) An exercise to study the new policy will take place during the summer (see Summer 2001).
FAA personnel are too busy after 9/11 to complete an after-action report on the agency’s response to the terrorist attacks. Mike Morse, an FAA national security coordination staffer, will later tell the 9/11 Commission: “No comprehensive after-action report was ever completed by the FAA. Everyone was working day and night on emergency measures. The potential for other attacks was real.” The official initially tasked with writing the report is Larry Bruno, the FAA’s security regulatory manager. But, according to Morse, Bruno finds it “impossible because people could not make time to cooperate.” Willie Gripper, the deputy director of civil aviation security operations at FAA headquarters, then tasks Morse with the assignment, but Morse says that accomplishing the task will require that higher level officials make it a priority. An attempt is made to complete a report around March or April 2002, but the creation of the Transportation Security Administration is underway at the time, and so it is “increasingly difficult to get all of the [FAA] principals in one place to discuss what happened and generate ‘lessons learned,’” according to Morse. (9/11 Commission 9/15/2003, pp. 10 ; 9/11 Commission 5/5/2004, pp. 5-6 )
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