The Associated Press recently reported on a story about 3 LAX terminals that were briefly shut down after an airport contract worker left an exit from a secure area unattended.
The case of the open gate is unfortunately, but not all that uncommon. What’s uncommon here is that it held up flights. With thousands of access doors and gates at hundreds of U.S. airports, and tens of thousands of employees accessing them daily, it’s bound to happen from time to time.
Usually, when doors or gates are found to be open a security guard or police officer is sent to determine if a breach occurred. TSA is often notified and everyone makes a collective decision about the risk. How long was the door or gate open? Was the incident caught on CCTV? Were there witnesses? What is the location of the incident and its proximity to commercial aircraft, critical infrastructure, etc. Then, a decision is made about whether to stop flights, search for a suspect, or assume the risk and move on.
Every airport and airline employee who is allowed access to the secured areas of an airfield is required to undergo Security Identification Display Area (SIDA) training, initially when hired and on a recurring basis (every 1-2 years is common). This is a standard requirement within the federal regulations in order to be issued an airport identification badge. The challenge is getting the employee to actually follow the security practices. Just like everyone is required to pass a driver’s education test and then is expected to obey the law, aviation employees are expected to follow the security regulations in place at their airport.
In some cases, there is a mechanical failure. An employee will access a door or gate, shut it behind them, and then a “gate-fairy” comes along and reopens it for whatever mechanical reason. Kind of like the hatch on the Mercury space flight with Gus Grissom, the ‘hatch just blew.’ Sometimes doors and gates just open. In many cases, there are CCTV cameras that can see what has happened. Many of the doors and gates are tied into the airports computerized security control system, which is supposed to go into alarm when a door or gate opens when it’s not supposed to or when it’s been open for too long.
Obviously, a good SIDA training program is important, but also important is security awareness. Whether an employee left the access point open or it just opened on its own, employee’s must be trained to report security issues when they see them.
To view the original AP article, read more at http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h13Pjc29HRG7QPsByy5AUuv7Ar-AD9I154VO0