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.
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.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has changed the rules and as of April 25 will allow small blades and sports implements such as golf clubs and lacrosse sticks to be carried on board by airline passengers. The rules would allow passengers to carry knives with blades shorter than 2.36 inches and narrower than half an inch, as long as they don’t have lockable blades. The existing rules prohibit most sharp objects, with the exception of scissors that are four or fewer inches in length, and also sports equipment. The TSA wants the rule change to harmonize U.S. security practices with those of other countries, which would make security screening more efficient. I’m not so sure about that.
The House of Representatives passed the “Aviation Security Stakeholder Participation Act of 2013” last month, requiring the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to permanently establish an Aviation Security Advisory Committee (Asac), a government/industry group that collaborates on security policies.
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.
U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) executives said they will use new approaches to increase enrollment in “Pre-Check,” a program that pre-screens airline passengers for security risks and helps smooth the flow of people through airport security lines. Airport executives complain the program has gone underused.
A federal grand jury in Philadelphia indicted Joseph Picklo on August 23, charging him with possession of an explosive in an airport and carrying an explosive on to an aircraft. Federal investigators said that on March 29 this year Picklo attempted to pass through security screening with explosives in his backpack at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). Airport security officials searched the backpack and confiscated two M80-style fireworks, flash-powder in a concealed container, a lighting wick and a flammable lighter.
The U.S. government should focus on more efficient aviation security during times of fiscal austerity, according to a new study by the nonprofit Rand research organization. The “Efficient Aviation Security” report, released on August 21, focuses on the costs and the benefits of aviation security in the U.S. in the post 9/11 era. “To make rational security decisions, the benefits of a measure (or group of measures) must be compared with its varied costs to determine whether those benefits exceed the cost,” the authors conclude.
AirLock Aviation Security Systems has developed a programmable electronic door and access-panel locking system that records all uses of the locks to gain access to an aircraft. Unlike all-aircraft security systems that include sensors and electronic boxes, AirLock’s electronic access control system requires replacing mechanical door and access-panel locks with AirLock’s locking devices.
Before September 11, biometrics was just one of the hundreds of new high-tech buzzwords flooding into the English language, and one that was meaningless to most people in the aviation industry. But experts say that over the next 12 months, few of us will not have experienced, and benefited from, its effects.