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Committee Sensitive

MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD

Event: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) interview with Terry Biggio, Facility
Deputy Manager, Boston Center.
Type of event: Recorded Interview
Date: Monday, September 22, 2003
Special Access Issues: None
Prepared by: Geoffrey Brown
Team Number: 8
Location: FAA Boston Center, Nashua, New Hampshire
Participants - Non-Commission: Chris , FAA General Consul
Participants - Commission: John Azzarello, Miles Kara, Geoffrey Brown

NOTE: Unless otherwise noted, the following paraphrases the response and opinion of
the interviewee. Please refer to the interview transcript for a complete account.

Background
On 9-11 Biggio was assigned as Operations Manager Areas A and D with duty as
OMIC (Operations Manager in Charge) in conjunction with the Traffic Management Unit
(TMU). Biggio reported to Glen Michaels, assistant deputy for Boston Center who was
away on 9-11, and has since retired, and Heather Ackerman, an administrative manager
who was away at a joint managers meeting on 9-11. Therefore, Biggio was the manager
responsible for the performance of Boston Center on 9-11. Prior to becoming theOMIC,
Biggio worked at Boston Center as a Quality Assurance officer, an instructor, an ATC
supervisor, an Operations manager, a support manager, and as acting deputy. Biggio's
statement signed on Sep 15, 2001 indicates that he worked the OMIC position from
0630-0958 EOT on the morning of 9-11.
Morning of 9-11
On 9-11, after the morning rush was over, Daniel Bueno, the Traffic Management
Supervisor, paged Biggio, who came to the TMU and was briefed by John Schippani and
Bueno about a possible hijacking, based on three factors—no communications,
transponder turned off, and possible unusual communications from the cockpit. They
displayed AA11 as a primary target [no transponder] on the 46R (Boston Sector) radar
display, which was being worked by ATC Peter Zalewski at the time.
Zalewski had heard something unusual but was not sure what, so requested that
the tape be pulled and replayed Bob Jones, Quality Assurance was asked to pull the tape
and review for possible unusual communications. Jones told Biggio within minutes of the
threatening communication, and that the speaker clearly had a Middle Eastern accent, and
had said something like "we have some planes" and "don't do anything stupid". Biggio
had the Regional Operations Center and, he said, the Washington Operations Center on a
speaker phone and immediately relayed that information. He perceived his subsequent
role as a "conveyor of information to the ROC."
According to Biggio, prior to 9-11, an airplane that had gone NORDO (no radio
communication) was a frequent occurrence. An airplane that lost transponder was
relatively infrequent, but not unheard of. An airplane that had seriously deviated from its
course was indicative of a serious mechanical problem, and Biggio had never
experienced those three factors in combination before. Those factors, when applied to
AA11, were enough for Biggio to deem it necessary to contact ROC, but without the
threatening communication from the cockpit, he doubts AA11 would have been
recognized or labeled a hijack. Biggio noted that though he did not call the Washington
Operations Center (WOC) directly to inform of the hijacking, he was placed in a
conference call through the ROC that was being actively monitored, as far as he knows,
by the WOC.
The attack was not anticipated. He thought they would have gotten something
from the aircraft, a special code Specifically, ATCs are taught that a hijack would
include a covert sign from the cockpit, either use of the transponder code 7500, which
flashes "HIJACK" on the data block for the flight on the ATCs TMU (traffic monitoring
unit), or the pilot would have used covert language (the word "trip" to describe the
airplane's course) to signal the ATC. In simulated hijack exercises the pilot would be in
contact with the ATC, and they would be able to verbally confirm "7500" for a hijack,
"7600" for a malfunctioning transponder, and "7700" for an emergency.
Biggio stated that though there was no drill, simulated scenario, or previous real-
life scenario that mirrored the events of 9-11, Boston Center was able to respond
effectively through the benefit of numerous air traffic situations during the summer storm
season and the combined extensive experience of the ATC staff. Biggio noted that part
of Boston Center's subsequent ground stop success can be attributed to their authority
over air traffic. Biggio was able to stop air traffic through the Sparta/Carmel air corridor
and was able to ground stop Logan Airport directly.

Biggion characterized the Traffic Management Unit function as the management


of information by facilitation and as one of the better functioning parts of government.
Information is free-flowing because of the need to deal with severe weather and with
other constantly changing conditions. He noted three main points of the collective
knowledge brought to bear on 9-11 by Boston Center:
1) Coordination and communication were key since the situation had not been
planned for, but the instinct and capability to deal with crisis scenarios had been firmly
developed;
2) quality personnel enabled solid communication in Boston Center, but Biggio
had serious concerns after the impact at the Pentagon that his Center's urgency and
information was not being translated to FAA operations nationally; and
3) the responsiveness of Boston Center allowed for the Sparta/Carmel corridor
and all west bound traffic to be shut down, which saved valuable airspace for the
coordination of the complete clearing of the skies to commercial air traffic. "Airplanes
on the ground can't hurt you."
Regarding Boston Center, FAA and the Military
Pre-9/11 protocol for communicating a hijack threat to the military had been
practiced by as far as Biggio knew they had never practiced intercept procedures. In such
exercises all communication was handled through the ROC.
Once the first WTC collision was reported, Biggio clearly believed it to be AA11,
and communicated this to the open line with ROC. It is for this reason that Biggio was
surprised to hear that military and civiliancontrollers in the New York region were still
looking for AA11 after impact.
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 warning areas off the
coast, but that the tension is normally negligible.
Regarding crisis management preparation and response post-9/11
Biggio noted that ATC procedure has shifted from a service focus to a homeland
security focus, and that some of this change in concentration was due to the critical
incident stress debriefing for the ATCs post-9/11. Biggio believes both sides, FAA and
military, need education on each-others procedures and capabilities. The Dynamic
Simulation exercises required for ATCs pre-9-11 did not stress combined FAA/military
scenarios, and Biggio is concerned his ATCs would not have been successful in
coordinating a military intercept with United Airlines 175.
He is extremely concerned with the air vulnerability of the nation's nuclear power
plants. Since 9/11 he has experienced a scenario in which a fighter scramble had not
reached a nuclear plant cap in time to escort an aircraft out. The incident had no adverse
result, but served as an example of the need for quicker communication and response
time, despite steps like the 24 hour DEN (Defense Event Network), increased attention to
NORAC communication, and 360 degree "confidence turns" (an ATC supervisor can
request a pilot perform a complete 360 degree circle if there is cause for suspicion of the
aircraft). Biggio believes that permanent airspace caps over these high risk sites may be
necessary.
The ROC is central, he wouldn't say "clearing house," but they have the
communication bridges. Training-wise they knew information had to go through the
ROC because of experience with accidents in the past.
Biggio was not aware of a "five-minute" standard concerning lost
communications, per se. His perception was that a controller [and others] just keep going
and quickly run though a mental checklist—check his own comms, try other company (in
this case AA) planes, try AFRINC (ground-based communications system with the
cockpit), and try Guard (UHF and VHF frequencies devoted specifically to emergency
communications.)
Other Information
He had communicated with his counterpart at New York Center, Bruce Barrett,
and passed along what he saw—an aircraft that might be descending to Kennedy,
following a "tear drop" course, and in coast track with perhaps an ELT
On the tracking of primary-only targets he said that is accomplished based on the
route of flight and that is why they were able to pick up AA11 when it ceased
transponding. If it drops below coverage [of the en-route center] one assumption is that it
broke up in flight. Danny [Bueno] had a hard time getting his point-out of AA11 across
to New York Traffic Control—couldn't see it.
Concerning ELTs (Emergency Locator Transmissions) Biggio said that a hard
landing could cause such a transmission. An ELT is not a signal sent by pilot operators.
It is clearly indicative of a crash.
It was his "gut feeling" that it was AA11 that hit the first tower—the coast track,
the ELT, and the fact it was descending. He told that to his TMU, to the ROC and to the
ATM at Herndon.
Final Comment
Biggio believes that communication and information is key. He also believes that
given a urgent situation, it is vitally necessary to be confidant that Boston Center know it
is speaking with the right person to have the correct information, or request for
information, immediately addressed. He believes that ATC supervisors now will
recognize the unusual signs in their airspace that will indicate a possible terrorist event
using aircraft, and that those supervisors will communicate immediately with TMU and
Boston Center management officers of the suspicious activity. Biggio is extremely
concerned though that this process, as well as it may work within Boston Center, will not
translate into the rapid and effective national response needed to deal with a crisis akin to
the 9-11 attacks.
He would not, with confidence, have declared AA11 a hijack if it hadn't been for
the cockpit communications.
[Classification]

MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD

Event: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Boston Center Field Site Interview 1 with
Terry Biggio, Deputy of Facility, Boston Center.
Type of event: Interview
Date: Monday, September 22, 2003
Special Access Issues: None
Prepared by: Geoffrey Brown
Team Number: 8
Location: FAA Boston Center, Nashua, New Hampshire
Participants - Non-Commission: Chris , FAA General Consul
Participants - Commission: John Azzarello, Miles Kara, Geoffrey Brown

NOTE: Unless otherwise noted, the following paraphrases the response and opinion of
the interviewee. Please refer to the interview transcript for a complete account.

Background:
Currently Terry Biggio is Deputy of Facility for Boston Center.
On 9/11 Biggio was Operations Manager Areas A and D for one and half years with
duties as OMIC (Operations Manager in Charge) in conjunction with the Traffic
Management Unit (TMU). Biggio reported to Glen Michaels, assistant deputy for Boston
Center who was away on 9/11, and has since retired, and Heather Ackerman, an
administrative manager who was away at a joint managers meeting on 9/11. Biggio was
the manager overall responsible for Boston Center on 9/11. Prior to being OMIC, Biggio
worked with Boston Center as a Quality Assurance officer, an ATC teacher, an ATC
supervisor, an Operations manager, a support manager, and as acting deputy.
On 9/11, Daniel Bueno paged Biggio, who came to the TMU and was briefed by John
Schippani and Bueno. They showed Terry AA11 on the 46R radar display, which was
being worked by Peter Zilowski at the time. Bob Jones was asked to pull the tape
recording for AA11 to review for possible unusual communications. Jones told Biggio
immediately of the threatening communication, and that it the speaker clearly had a
middle eastern accent, and had said something like "we have some planes" and "don't do
anything stupid". Biggio immediately relayed this information to the Regional Operations
Command (ROC).

According to Biggio, prior to 9/11, an airplane that had gone NORAC (no radio
communication) was frequent. An airplane that lost transponder was relatively infrequent,
but not unheard of. An airplane that had seriously deviated from its course was indicative
of a serious mechanical problem, and Biggio and never experienced such a serious
deviation before. These three factors, when applied to AA11, were enough for Biggio to
deem it necessary to contact ROC, but without the threatening communication from the
cockpit, he doubts AA11 would have been recognized or labeled a hijack. Specifically,
ATCs are taught that a hijack would include a covert sign from the cockpit, either use of
the transponder code 7500, which flashes "HIJACK" on the data block for the flight on
the ATCs TMU (traffic monitoring unit), or the pilot would have used covert language
(the word "trip" to describe the airplane's course) to signal the ATC. In simulated hijack
exercises the pilot would be in contact with the ATC, and they would be able to verbally
confirm "7500" for a hijack, "7600" for a malfunctioning transponder, and "7700" for an
emergency.

Biggio noted that though he did not call the WOC directly to inform of the hijacking, he
was placed in a conference call through the ROC that was being actively monitored, as
far as he knows, by the WOC.

Biggio noted that though there was no drilled simulated scenario, or previous real-life
scenario that mirrored the events of 9/11, Boston Center was able to respond effectively
through the benefit of numerous air traffic threats during the summer storm season and
the combined extensive experience of the ATC staff.
Biggio noted that part of Boston Center's success can be attributed to their authority over
air traffic. Biggio was able to stop air traffic through the Sparta/Carmel passage and was
able to ground stop Logan Airport directly.
Biggio noted three main points of the collective knowledge brought to bear on 9/11 by
Boston Center 1) Coordination and communication were key since 9/11 's situation itself
had not been planned for, but the instinct and capability to deal with crisis scenarios had
been firmly developed; 2) quality personnel enabled solid communication in Boston
Center, but Biggio had serious concerns after the impact at the Pentagon that his Center's
urgency and information was not being translated to FAA operations nationally; and 3)
the responsiveness of Boston Center allowed for the Sparta/Carmel corridor and all west
bound traffic to be shut down, which saved valuable airspace for the coordination of the
complete clearing of the skies to commercial air traffic.

Regarding Boston Center, FAA and the Military:


Pre-9/11 protocol for communicating a hijack threat to the military had been practiced by
as far as Biggio knew they had never practiced intercept procedures. In such exercises all
communication was handled through the ROC.
Once the first WTC collision was reported, Biggio clearly believed it to be AA11, and
communicated this to the open line with ROC. It is for this reason that Biggio was
surprised to hear controller for the New York region were still looking for AA11 after
impact.
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 space off the coast, but that this
tension is normally negligible.

Regarding crisis management preparation and response post-9/11:


Biggio noted that ATC procedure has shifted from a service focus to a homeland security
focus, and that some of this change in concentration is due to the critical incident stress
debriefing for the ATCs post-9/11. Biggio believes both sides, FAA and military, need
education on each-others procedures and capabilities. The Dynamic Simulation exercises
required for ATCs pre-9/11 did not stress combined FAA/military scenarios, and Biggio
is concerned his ATCs would not have been successful in coordinating an intercept with
United Airlines 175. He is extremely concerned with the air vulnerability of the nation's
nuclear power plants. Since 9/11 he has experienced a scenario in which a fighter
scramble had not reached a nuclear plant cap in time to escort an aircraft out. This
incident had no adverse result, but served as an example to Biggio of the need for quicker
communication and response time despite steps like the 24 hour DEN (Defense Event
Network), increased attention to NORAC communication, and 360 degree "confidence
turns" (an ATC supervisor can request a pilot perform a complete 360 degree circle if
there is cause for suspicion of the aircraft). Biggio believes that permanent airspace caps
over these high risk sites may be necessary.

Recommendations:
Biggio believes that communication and information is key. He also believes that given a
urgent situation, it is vitally necessary to be confidant that Boston Center know it is
speaking with the right person to have the correct information, or request for information,
immediately addressed. He believes that ATC supervisors now will recognize the unusual
signs in their airspace that will indicate a possible terrorist event using aircraft, and that
those supervisors will communicate immediately with TMU and Boston Center
management officers of the suspicious activity. Biggio is extremely concerned though
that this process, as well as it may work within Boston Center, will not translate into the
rapid and effective national response needed to deal with a crisis akin to the 9/11 attacks.

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