Author Archives: Jeff Price

Aircraft Theft brings TSA’s Timing on Employee Vetting into Question

Aircraft Theft brings TSA’s Timing on Employee Vetting into Question

The Aviation Security Act of 2016 requires TSA to improve the eligibility requirements and increase the disqualifying criminal offenses for personnel working at an airport, who have unescorted access to certain airport security areas. Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be on the top priority of TSA as a few months back they decided to kick the proposed regulations on down the road – and then someone stole an airplane and reminded us that aviation is a still a target for terrorists, criminals and the mentally unstable.

Did you know that with the strictest definition of the current aviation credentialing regulation, an individual could commit murder, while hijacking an airplane, add in armed robbery, espionage, treason, arson, burglary, while smuggling drugs in an airplane and to make matters worse, turn off the navigational lights of the plane to avoid detection, WHILE smuggling the drugs, could still pass the current background check regulations and be issued identification to work in an airport or airline security area? As long as all of these offenses took place more than 10 years ago (and assuming they aren’t spending the rest of their lives in jail), this individual technically meets the existing TSA regulatory requirements.

Presently, as long as an individual has not been found guilty of 28 specific offenses within the past 10 years (known as the lookback period), they can be issued a security badge that allows them access to the airport ramp and commercial airliners. While some airport and airline operators attempt to add to the lookback time and add to the list of offenses, many others do not for fear they will not be supported by the TSA, nor supported by their bosses for the extra personnel and resources it will take to increase the requirements.

In response to the well-known insider threat, the 2016 act requires TSA to issue proposed rulemaking that would amend the vetting requirements for employees with access to a Security Identification Display Area (SIDA). The rule is supposed to add to the list of disqualifying offenses and extend the lookback period to at least 15 years. Unfortunately, TSA tossed this on the shelf until at least 2019.

While this particular rule would not likely have stopped the recent theft of a Horizon airplane from SeaTac airport, it does highlight gaps in the employee vetting process – one of which are the anemic background check regulations. Post 9/11, at least we can say that it’s more difficult to get a badge now than it was then, but this is an important rule and deserves serious consideration – sooner than later.

For more information on the rulemaking click here:

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What Awaits Us With New Airline Technologies?

Airline passengers, airport managers and neighboring airport communities might expect to encounter new and advanced technology in the near future. In the safety and security area, passengers should expect to see biometrics being implemented into the checkpoint, and eventually into the passenger boarding process. In the future, ideally, a passenger face or other biometric will… Continue Reading

Theft of Aircraft at SeaTac

Theft of Aircraft at SeaTac

This is an evolving situation so facts may change the information expressed below. The theft of an aircraft out of SeaTac’s airport has shined a light on a rarely considered area of aviation security, the potential threat from those with unfettered access to an airplane.  The last significant incident like this was the Germanwings first… Continue Reading

H.R. 6438 Unmanned Aircraft Systems Coordinator Act

H.R. 6438 Unmanned Aircraft Systems Coordinator Act

An interesting update on drone security was recently published by the AAAE Legislative Alliance on the H.R. 6438 DHS Countering Unmanned Aircraft Systems Coordinator Act. Introduced by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) July 18, 2018, the bill would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002, establishing a DHS Coordinator position to: Coordinate the development of policies and plans to… Continue Reading

The Real Infinity War

Have you ever played a game with a kid who is making up the rules as they go along? And if you start winning they’ll just they change the rules until you finally just get frustrated and quit? Frustrating, isn’t it? Well, at least it is for the adult. The kid had a great time.… Continue Reading

Why the Pre-flight Safety Brief Did Not Work on SWA 1380

The recent emergency landing of the Southwest Airlines flight 1380 goes to show the importance of listening to the in-flight safety briefing. The life you save may be your own. However, just telling people to “listen to the briefing,” isn’t going to change behavior. As a frequent flyer myself I understand how repetitive the in-flight bright briefing can… Continue Reading

Is Crowdsourcing A Component of Our Aviation Security of the Future?

Most of us have heard the phrase, “See something? Say something.” This phrase was adopted by New York City initially after the 9/11 attacks. The phrase was quickly adopted by the TSA as a mantra to encourage passengers and airport workers to report any suspicious activity, people and baggage. In theory, crowdsourcing an active watch… Continue Reading

Will Screening Detection Continue To Improve?

With repeated reports of detection failures during airport screening checkpoints, aviation security professionals discussed growing concerns during the AAAE/TSA/DHS Annual Aviation Security Summit in Washington DC in December 2017. The fact is that screening detection will continue to improve but likely will still not get a passing grade. The bad news is, a recent DHS… Continue Reading