TSA Security Directive SD-1544-09-06 : The Fallout From NW253

27/12/2009 – TSA Security Directive SD-1544-09-06 : The Fallout From NW253

Following the failed Christmas Day terrorist attack on Delta Air Lines Flight 253, operated by Northwest Airlines, from Amsterdam to Detroit, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has created a series of security measures in reaction to the incident.

Earlier today I wrote about Flight NW253 here, 27/12/2009 – Northwest Airlines Flight 253 : Myths & Facts.

The following is the complete text of the US DHS security directive as implemented by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

I post this text with no commentary or opinion; it is posted in its entirety as fact for you to better understand what is currently occurring in the realm of international aviation security.

Happy Flying & remember to use the lavatory 61 minutes prior to arrival in the US from overseas

Transportation Security Administration

Aviation Security Directive

Subject: Security Directive
Number: SD 1544-09-06
Date: December 25, 2009

EXPIRATION: 0200Z on December 30, 2009

This Security Directive (SD) must be implemented immediately. The measures contained in this SD are in addition to all other SDs currently in effect for your operations.

INFORMATION: On December 25, 2009, a terrorist attack was attempted against a flight traveling to the United States. TSA has identified security measures to be implemented by airports, aircraft operators, and foreign air carriers to mitigate potential threats to flights.


ACTIONS REQUIRED: If you conduct scheduled and/or public charter flight operations under a Full Program under 49 CFR 1544.101(a) departing from any foreign location to the United States (including its territories and possessions), you must immediately implement all measures in this SD for each such flight.


1. The aircraft operator or authorized air carrier representative must ensure all passengers are screened at the boarding gate during the boarding process using the following procedures. These procedures are in addition to the screening of all passengers at the screening checkpoint.

1. Perform thorough pat-down of all passengers at boarding gate prior to boarding, concentrating on upper legs and torso.
2. Physically inspect 100 percent of all passenger accessible property at the boarding gate prior to boarding, with focus on syringes being transported along with powders and/or liquids.
3. Ensure the liquids, aerosols, and gels restrictions are strictly adhered to in accordance with SD 1544-06-02E.

2. During the boarding process, the air carrier may exempt passengers who are Heads of State or Heads of Government from the measures outlined in Section I.A. of this SD, including the following who are traveling with the Head of State or Head of Government:

1. Spouse and children, or
2. One other individual (chosen by the Head of State or Head of Government)

3. For the purposes of Section I.B., the following definitions apply:

1. Head of State: An individual serving as the chief public representative of a monarchic or republican nation-state, federation, commonwealth, or any other political state (for example, King, Queen, and President).

2. Head of Government: The chief officer of the executive branch of a government presiding over a cabinet (for example, Prime Minister, Premier, President, and Monarch).


1. During flight, the aircraft operator must ensure that the following procedures are followed:

1. Passengers must remain in seats beginning 1 hour prior to arrival at destination.
2. Passenger access to carry-on baggage is prohibited beginning 1 hour prior to arrival at destination.
3. Disable aircraft-integrated passenger communications systems and services (phone, internet access services, live television programming, global positioning systems) prior to boarding and during all phases of flight.
4. While over U.S. airspace, flight crew may not make any announcement to passengers concerning flight path or position over cities or landmarks.
5. Passengers may not have any blankets, pillows, or personal belongings on the lap beginning 1 hour prior to arrival at destination.

AIRCRAFT OPERATOR ACKNOWLEDGMENT: The aircraft operator must immediately provide written confirmation to its assigned PSI indicating receipt of this SD.

AIRCRAFT OPERATOR dissemination required: The aircraft operator must immediately pass the information and directives set forth in this SD to all stations affected, and provide written confirmation to its PSI, indicating that all stations affected have acknowledged receipt of the information and directives set forth in this SD. The aircraft operator must disseminate this information to its senior management personnel, ground security coordinators, and supervisory security personnel at all affected locations. All aircraft operator personnel implementing this SD must be briefed by the aircraft operator on its content and the restrictions governing dissemination. No other dissemination may be made without prior approval of the Assistant Secretary for the Transportation Security Administration. Unauthorized dissemination of this document or information contained herein is prohibited by 49 CFR Part 1520 (see 69 Fed. Reg. 28066 (May 18, 2004).

APPROVAL OF ALTERNATIVE MEASURES: With respect to the provisions of this SD, as stated in 49 CFR 1544.305(d), the aircraft operator may submit in writing to its PSI proposed alternative measures and the basis for submitting the alternative measures for approval by the Assistant Administrator for Transportation Sector Network Management. The aircraft operator must immediately notify its PSI whenever any procedure in this SD cannot be carried out by a government authority charged with performing security procedures.

FOR TSA ACTION ONLY: The TSA must issue this SD immediately to the corporate security element of all affected U.S. aircraft operators.

FOR STATE DEPARTMENT: Retransmittal to appropriate foreign posts is authorized. Post must refer to STATE 162917, 201826Z Sep 01, Subject: FAA Security Directives and Information Circulars: Definitions and Handling, for specific guidance and dissemination.

Gale Rossides
Acting Administrator


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  1. A lot of these new rules seem irrelevant to the issue.
    One can only think that the TSA assumes that terrorists want to blow up airliners over populated areas to achieve maximum fatalities.Now they will limit their activity to blowing up airlines two or three or four hours out.
    Stopping maps showing where we are is asinine as most of us can look out the window or at our watch during a flight and know roughly where we are.
    The issue is in third world countries and slack airline employees.
    The Nigerian government says this guy entered the country unknown to them
    and yet they let him board a plane when they knew his name was on a local of turned men.
    The booking agent who accepted cash should have red flagged this guy.
    Northwest security in Nigeria should have stopped him boarding on the basis that he paid in cash , one way with no checked luggage.. sounds like a red flag to me.
    Another huge weakness seems to be in transit in Amsterdam where they assume the passenger has already been checked by security and do not recheck when they board him for the next flight.
    Bottom line: Profile airports and countries we know have have poor security and triple check anyone coming from those countries.

  2. All AIRPORTS SHOULD HAVE THE PUFFERS IN THEM. Even the SMALL ones like Sioux Falls or any airport that has only ONE CHECK POINT LANE. Even the large ones like LAX and LAS. Every check point lane should have the puffer machines.
    Maybe TSA shouldn’t get a rid of their BEST OFFICERS!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Vaughan Morris

    Please read my posts on the Myths & Facts regarding NW253.

    -The flight from Lagos to Amsterdam was KLM, not NWA

    -Airport security is not handled by the airlines, it is handled by a 3rd party agency are virtually all airports worldwide

    – Paying for tickets in cash in some African nations is completely normal due to the economic instability of financial institutions in the region.

    – Have flown around the world with a single carry-on backpack, no checked luggage is not a red flag for security

    – All Passengers departing Amsterdam-Schiphol undergo security screening at the gate for all non-Schengen flights

    Please check your facts.

    Happy Flying!


  4. DJ

    Puffers were removed once they were found to be inaccurate quite often. They need to make them more reliable then reinstall them.

    Happy Flying!


  5. Just released on CNN. The government has changed the language of the one hour rule from “must” to “at the discretion of the flight crew”. Do you think the knee just got jerked back a little?
    I’m a pilot an hope to buy a GA aircraft this year and fly myself to small reliever airports as far from TSA screeners as I can!

  6. Welcome to 1950’s Germany, or Russia, or anywhere else where passive citizens submitted themselves without a peep of resistance – to a disturbed mind(s) – aka, dictators – to control their country, until outside Allies stepped in. Now we just need an Ally…

  7. Obviously it is not that hard to try to blow up a plane. This guy was on the watchlist, had a bomb on him, ties to terrorists, even had his dad call up the US Embassy to warn he felt his son was going to do something stupid. If that guy can get on the plane, why the heck am I taking off my shoes and not able to have my toothpaste in my carry-on when I fly?

  8. People are missing the point of these security directives.
    They’re not about preventing terrorism, they’re about getting people accustomed to following orders.

  9. Seriously? This is how TSA and our Government wants to make it safer? How about first starting at the source of the problem? There is so much information out there that is not being shared between Homeland, FBI, CIA etc. People are not doing what they are supposed to do because of all the bureaucracy (crazy), because common sense is not being applied. Then you add the TSA into the mix with all the wanna-be-cop employees using outdated technology.

    At the end of the day, our freedom and rights are being taken away. And don’t give me any “it’s for your safety” stuff. These measurements don’t make it much safer but big time more inconvenient for everyone to fly. These steps address one small area of a big problem.

    All I can say – big fail to the TSA and the US Government to let it get this far.

    My prediction: We soon will only be allowed to fly in a Speedo and don’t think about moving at all during your flight.

  10. So if a terrorist is going towards the cockpit during the last hour before a flight lands, we can’t get up to stop him?

  11. Has anyone flown out of Vancouver lately? Is Canada still sane? I live near Seattle, it’s not that bad a drive up there if I need to fly out of the US.

    I went to Europe recently and it was so much quicker and pleasanter there.

    Would it get attention if everyone on a plane wet their seat every trip? Maybe if it could be managed with a plastic bag or the like, without ruining clothes. Actually, how about a tiny envelope of DRIED pee that could mixed with the remains of one’s drink and “left behind.”

    If it wasn’t for the secret air marshals, it would be funny if the pilot came out just before takeoff and asked if anyone minded or would tell if they just “forgot” the security rules.

  12. My son was flying from Australia to Guam, the person at the security gate was Muslim, towel head and all.. He saw my son’s Star of David necklace and told him he wanted to strip search him. My son said absolutely not. He is in the Navy DI. He told the muslim to get his supervisor. He told the supervisor he was not going to be strip-searched because the muslim hated him be a Jew. He was in the Navy and the US was not the ones blowing up planes it was people like this muslim who was suppose to be screening for potential terrorists. He told them that they had the foxes guarding the hen-houses. He would be more afraid to fly on a plane that had muslims screening for possible terrorists. I agree whole-heartedly. I think if you are a muslim you should not be allowed into this country and all the muslims here should be made to leave. They should not be trusted in any capacity with the lives of US citizens. And they should definately not be screening for airlines and allowing their muslim brothers or sisters on any plane so that they can blow them up. Get rid of the muslims, protest any airlines that allow them to work in or around an airport.
    My son did not have to strip or be searched. And he gave the muslim a thourough toungue lashing.

  13. These rules they’ve come up with are completely ridiculous. They don’t solve the problem at all. If a terrorist wants to blow a plane up now he’ll just do it before the last hour of the flight.

    As for not being allowed to use the bathroom at all during the last hour, that’s a violation of basic human dignity. If this stays in effect, I’m tempted to just piss all over the back of the seat in front of me on purpose.

    Instead of coming up with all this bullshit, they should instead actually search people and baggage before allowing it onto the planes. There shouldn’t be much of any restrictions on what you do on the plane, because they’re supposed to ensure that no one has dangerous items on them BEFORE they board.

    What really makes me want to /facepalm is their saying that we can’t use wi-fi during the flight. So much for the brand new emerging market of offering internet access to travelers on board planes. Good job shutting down a new industry before it can take off!

  14. In lieu of all the media attention after the event on Flight 253, I think it might also be prudent to point to the air Cargo industry as well. The 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act proposed 100% imaging overseas of all import containers. Just like the new security measures that are being implemented after Flight 253, the 9/11 Recommendation also proposed dramatic increases in security for cargo.

    However now, years later, DHS had announced that it will push back its proposed 100% Cargo Scanning Deadline for two years to 2014. There was avid domestic and international concern over who would pick up the tab for the implementation, estimated $8 million per trade lade or $16.8 billion worldwide. IES: The Software Solution for the Future of Freight. IES Ltd serves Customs Brokers, NVOCCs, Freight Forwarders and more. Many also voiced concerns that these costs would affect the entire industry, from the manufacturer, to the consolidator, to the carrier, the ports, customs broker, freight forwarder, warehousing and distribution, to the importers and ultimately, the consumer.

    My concern can be summarized as this: If the tab for cargo screening has been pegged at 16.8 billion, imagine the cost if these same security measures were applied if another crisis arose. If implementation is not feasible, then a solid contingency plan should be in place. Although it is does appear valid that 100% Cargo Screening would be an enormous undertaking, I believe that there should be some sort of plan in place right now for cargo screening in case of such an another similar event such as Flight 253 that affects cargo.

  15. Debbie (Post #71),

    Not to delve into politics or religion here…but I am Jewish and I have traveled in the Middle East, worked in the Middle East and counted the Kuwait Ministry of Awqaf & Islamic Affairs as one of my clients. What we need in this world is not to expel people, what we need is common ground. Common ground is very hard to find, but as a Jew look back in our history and you will find Jews & Muslims intertwined on many peaceful levels throughout history.

    I am not an apologist, I am however comfortable in who I am and my history and being comfortable with who I am, and my history, I able to look at everyone I meet on a level of who they are as a person…not base my opinions on culture, religion, race or other common dividers.

    Your son is in the Military and I applaud that. As part of your son’s oath he swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States…and the Constitution affords religious freedom for all.

    Happy Flying!


  16. This is total BS. Give me fucking liberty. Why not just fill the plane with laughing gas and make everyone sleep the whole way? They might as well just strap everyone down with a catheter, blind folded, and drugged. Is the next step painting over all the windows so we can’t look out the plane either?

    Oh, and @Debbie.. Why don’t we just round up all the Muslims and put them in concentration camps? They’re the ones causing all the trouble any way, right? And then once they’re in these camps, we can put them to “work”. Just pay no attention to all the “black smoke” the factories they work in produce…..shame on you, Jew. For shame that you would even suggest starting to treat Muslims as your people were treated leading up to the holocaust. For shame…

  17. JasonHears Post #79.

    I did in no way shape or form say that they should be put in Death Camps. My grandmother, (my mother is from Netherlands), was in a Concentration Camp during WWII , and I would wish that on noone.
    But the Jewish people are not the ones who are killing the Infidels,(anyone who is not a muslim). The Jewish people and the muslims have in many years gone had intermitent good relationships. And there are I am sure good muslims as there are bad Jew’s. But the muslims are training their people to kill all infidels… guess what unless you are a devout muslim that means you and me and most US citizens. My cousins in the Netherlands tell me that the muslim people scream and curse at them and yes they are killing their people. So your hatefilled words toward me would be better spent trying to figure out how you will save you and your loved ones when the muslim take over yet another country… ours.

  18. The P-C politicians and bureacrats are going to get more Americans killed. Didn’t these guys ever watch McGiver? Criminals are always one step ahead of the law, especially when the law enforcers have to operate with asinine rules dreamed up by desk-jockey bureacrats who wouldn’t recognize Osama Bin Laden if he spit on them.

    A “pat down” won’t find the new a** bombs that the crazies are just starting to use. Is “drop your pants and bend over” next? With the possible exception of the Swedish Bikini Team, all foreign nationals coming into the USA should be suspect and profiled, ESPECIALLY ones from middle eastern and third world countries. When the Swedish Bikini Team members start blowing themselves and others up, they get added to the list too.

    Of course the common denominator in 99.9% of ALL terrorists activities in the last 25 years or so is Islam. We are at war with Islam because Islam is at war with us (and all non-Muslims). The problem is that our P-C politicians and liberals just can’t bring themselves to admit it because they have their head up their a**.

    If there is any justice in the world, some P-C, see-no-evil politiicans will be on the next plane that gets blown out of the sky.

    BTW, JasonHears, if Sharia Law ever comes to the USA, I’ll bet you will have your head chopped off before most of the folks here that you disagree with would, even though you are probably anti-semitic. Why don’t you try going to a Muslim dominated country and spew your “freedom” BS.

    Oh, and I have about 700,000 flying miles. How many do you have?

    The security for planes will get under control – even if we do have to surrender some more of our personal freedoms to have it done. While I haven’t tried it, I doubt you are “free” to urinate in the aisle. Rather than be so concerned about flying, people really ought to be concerend about soft targets, like elementary schools, and whatever is being smuggled in inside the millions of completely unscreened cargo containers that are trucked all over the USA.

  19. ok. So i’m next on a flight that just returned from overseas. I sit down and the seat is wet cause someone had to take a leak! Are the airlines prepared for pissed on seats? Can I get another seat (dry one) because the one i’m assigned to is wet? Maybe the airlines should hand out adult diapers at NO CHARGE!!!

  20. This is nothing more than security theater at its worst. I wish for once that our government would actually do something that worked and solved (or prevented) problems instead of knee jerk reactions that are embarassing and just plain stupid!

    Its time to drive more or take Amtrak.

  21. Let’s just privatize all airlines and airports, abolish the FAA, etc. and let airlines compete on safety points.

  22. Recently flew from Orlando – Newburg, NY. A man with a full prothesis up to mid-thigh was in TSA line; was told he had to completely remove his artificial leg. I watched as the sec. people took the mech. leg apart in all apendages. It took the passenger 45 mins. to get thru it and this jerk aboard Delta #253 breezes in and on the plane with a stopover in Schiphol no less, the most buttoned up airport in Europe. What’s the point? We are so damned dumb! And look who we have for Homeland Sec. head? Sad!!! Gimme a break!!!

  23. The people who issued these rules are responsible for the security of our air transport system… God help us!

  24. Debbie,
    it is people like you who are the idiots.

    Yeah right, all bad things happen because of Muslims. Maybe Bush was a Muslim as well, since he’s the one who initiated WWIII (yes we are in it now).

    It has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with being brainwashed, albeit, Muslim, Christian or Jew.

    Believing in something that doesn’t exist, proves that you are just as acceptable to being brainwashed and doing something you believe is right.

    Face the facts, religion is for the weak, who have no self moral’s or guidance of their own so they need someone to “coach” them through life.

    Everyone knows whats right and wrong, religion distorts this.

    Anyway, back to the subject….

    I agree with post 79, apart from the catheters. Either gas everyone, or restrain everyone for 100% safety…. unless its a Muslim restraining us… right??

    Enjoy Americas Land of the Free….

  25. Why don’t they train more explosive sniffing dogs?
    They cost less than those damned backscatter machines and can cover more people faster than any xray machine ever will.
    Pat down? Hah! How can you tell if the person has a really thin layer of explosives on them patting them down through their clothes?
    If it is hidden in your waistline how are they going to find explosives under your belt?
    I think their next step is that you have to take you underwear off before you get on the aircraft.

    We have idiots running TSA! Thats for sure.
    The one hour ban to overhead luggage? That’s stupid. At any time before that I could get something I needed to do what that fool did on Northwest. It will be only a matter of time before TSA screeners will get lazy in their screening of bags.
    Everything they have stated now for security purposes does not make any logical sense.
    They forgot to mention that the Captain should also turn off the channel that lets you listen to the cockpit and tower talking. If you have a scanner, you could follow the conversation that way and still know where you are.

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