While the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reviews a draft update of general aviation airport security guidelines, the agency is also running a series of exercises to bolster communications among airports, the local community and operators during times of increased security threats.
Accidents, Safety, Security and Training » Security
News and information about crew, passenger, aircraft and airport security issues.
At press time a French-operated Falcon 50 was grounded in the Dominican Republic, according to a TV report by France’s TF1, after it was involved in a major drug bust in Punta Cana in March. The Dominican counter-drug police discovered about 1,500 pounds of cocaine (with a street value of approximately $26 million) packed in 26 suitcases placed in the hold and the cabin. The three French pilots and one French passenger were arrested just before takeoff, with the engines already running for a departure to Saint-Tropez Airport, France, according to TF1. All four people were jailed.
Before the 9/11 attacks in 2001, a one-mile bubble of airspace used to follow the U.S. President around, theoretically protecting him and his entourage from airborne threats. That bubble has grown to a 10-nm diameter ring surrounded by a 30-nm restricted zone, raising a key question: Is the risk of an attack now that much greater than it was before 9/11?
Airport perimeters are the weak links in the nation’s aviation security efforts, warns former Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta, now a vice chairman with Hill & Knowlton Strategies.
The ease with which anyone can penetrate an airport perimeter may shock those familiar with today’s elaborate security inside terminals, Mineta wrote recently in an op-ed article for The Washington Post. In Philadelphia last year, a driver crashed through a gate and onto a runway. There were similar “near-catastrophes” in Miami and Dallas, he said.
ExecuJet Africa has partnered with international risk management company MS Risk to offer emergency response plans for clients with staff based at remote locations in Africa. Under the new Urgent Response Plan (URP) service, ExecuJet and MS Risk will work with clients’ human resources and safety managers to develop evacuation plans for those companies that do not currently have one in place or integrate services into an existing program. The URP will also include intelligence reporting, remote site visits, ground and air service options and logistics coordination.
Israel-headquartered Elbit Systems has announced a series of successful flight tests on a system designed to protect large jet aircraft against shoulder-launched ground-to-air missiles (Manpads, or man-portable air-defense systems). Designated C-Music, the defensive equipment was tested on board a Boeing 707.
C-Music, for commercial multi-spectral infrared countermeasures, is part of the company’s line of directed IR countermeasures (DIRCM) solutions for protecting all types of aircraft from heat-seeking ground-to-air missiles in all operational conditions.
During World War II, “Loose Lips Sink Ships” was a familiar slogan on both sides of the Atlantic at a time when German U-boats (U for unterwasserboot, submarine) were wreaking a deadly toll on cargo vessels transporting Allied supplies from North America to the beleaguered British Isles.
The number of airline crewmembers processed through the “Known Crewmember” (KCM) security screening program at U.S. airports doubled after it expanded to include flight attendants in October. Last summer, when only pilots could participate, the TSA screened 55,000 to 60,000 crewmembers at KCM checkpoints each week. Since flight attendants became eligible, the number jumped to 120,000 weekly, according to Douglas Hofsass, TSA assistant administrator in charge of “risk based” security initiatives.
Flight Display Systems has been demonstrating a new computer facial-recognition system–See3–that it believes will add a new level of protection to owners and operators concerned with aircraft security, in addition to creating a more complete cabin service.
See3 is based on Linus Fast Access facial-recognition software but adds Flight Display’s own proprietary and expanding set of algorithms. The hardware consists of two main components–the camera and computer–both of which already have FAA parts manufacturer approval.
The Asia Pacific Airlines Association (AAPA) has called for a shake-up of aviation security management in the region, arguing that the current approach–accounting for 25 percent of total airport costs–is inadequate.