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Category Archives: Aviation Security

Kids could be slaves; yea, it is a big deal

It seems that everyone has been quick to play down the journey of three underage travelers who decided on their own to fly from Florida to Tennessee (click here for article). Aviation experts, the airlines and TSA have all said that protocols were not violated. And, they are right.

However, the issue is not whether current protocols were violated, but whether we have the proper protocols in place. If we did, then this would have been a VERY big deal.

See, unfortunately, a hundred plus years after slavery, it seems there is still a huge problem in the human slave trade. We addressed this in Practical Aviation Security and it is a frequent topic in Aviation Security International magazine. However, human trafficking rarely makes headlines here in the U.S., even though much of the human trafficking takes place here. One of the biggest signs of human trafficking is children traveling alone. Continue Reading

What’s wrong with SPOT? No, not the dog

Recently, the NTSB released the report on Continental Airlines 1404 that went off the runway at Denver International Airport in December of 2008, due to crosswinds. The NTSB stated that the Captain did not hold proper crosswind correction on the rudder.

While this incident may seem not to have anything to do with aviation security it does relate to the issue of training — and training has everything to do with aviation security.

It’s an unfortunate given — when times are tough and budgets are being cut, training is one of the first things to go. Agencies and businesses will cut training that is not mandatory, and look for the cheapest solutions for training that is mandatory. When you cut training, there is usually no immediate impact. Kind of like missing a workout. You miss one workout, no big deal. No one will even notice it. Go ahead and miss two, three, five even 10 and your outward appearance will barely change if at all.

But, what happens when you miss 20 workouts? How about 30? There will definitely be a consequence. You’ll gain weight, not have as much energy and invite disease into your body. The same thing happens when training is cutback to the lowest common denominator. This is what has happened with the TSA’s Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) and Behavior Detection Officer (BDO) programs. Continue Reading

Don’t shuffle the deck chairs

As the new TSA Administrator is sworn in two events have occurred that may influence his appointment — but careful consideration should be given before any actions are taken. The first is a recent news report about comments made by Representative John Mica, blasting TSA for it’s ineffectiveness and top heavy bureaucracy. Click here. Second,… Continue Reading

Senate has confirmed John Pistole to serve as TSA Administrator

Whenever there is an act of air terrorism, the FBI is the lead agency. This has been a source of conflict since the creation of the TSA, which many assume is the lead agency responsible for all aviation security issues. That issue may be coming to a close now that the Senate has confirmed an FBI agent to the top TSA job. Continue Reading

Secrecy is not always bad

There seems to be a bad taste in the public’s mouth anytime someone decides to keep something secret or private. While not condoning the behavior of Tiger Woods or the rest of his ilk (I’m talking about cheaters, not professional golfers here), I’m one of those people that believe that somethings should still be kept private. Particularly when it comes to safety and security.

That’s the case with the recent debate about whether corporate aircraft operators have the right to keep their trips from becoming public. Continue Reading

Light Sabers on the prohibited item list?

I guess the first interesting question is, why are light sabers on the prohibited items list? Now, I was there in 1977 when Star Wars first came out, and I’ve seen all the movies plenty of times over — and as much as I’d love to have a light saber, they are, unfortunately, a fictional weapon. And one you cannot carry on an airplane — maybe because they are afraid that a fictional Sith Lord will try to take over the plane.

Our recent trip to Italy for vacation was of course wonderful, but as an aviation security author I can’t go to any airport without observing their security practices. What I’ve learned from our trip to Italy are three main things: the Rome Airport never forgot 1985; the people in Italy don’t seem as concerned about terrorist attacks, and you can’t take a light saber on an airplane, without attracting some suspicion. Continue Reading

Smokes on a Plane

Keeping in mind that the news reports are still coming in, let’s talk about what we know so far about the smokes-on-a-plane story developing at Denver International Airport. From what has been reported it appears that a Qatari man, possibly a diplomat, was arrested after making a comment about trying to light his shoe on… Continue Reading

Still blogging…

Just a quick note to the readers of this blog — yes, we’re still blogging. I just returned from a 10 day trip to Italy and have a few blog entries in the works to discuss some of the international security practices, and also some new domestic security practices and issues to address. Stay tuned,… Continue Reading

Jihad Jane: we could see this coming

As reported in USAToday, we now have American citizens actively engaged in the Jihad cause. This is not completely new as we have had others, like John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban, who was caught shortly after 9/11 in Afghanistan, but what is new is that the threat is now much closer to home.

This sort of “insider” threat is a natural outgrowth of a terrorist movement. Historically, in many of these types of movements, there is an eventual sympathy for the “bad guys.” Most often this results in political change or political pressure to either end a conflict, or make some other sort of social change. However, in extreme cases it results in recruits to the cause. The Internet makes recruiting, training and equipping insider terrorists that much easier. Unfortunately, this internal threat is now in the U.S. But is there a solution? Continue Reading

Obama picks Harding to head TSA

In the aftermath of the attempt to get Erroll Southers confirmed President Obama has finally selected another person to head the TSA, Robert Harding.

I must admit, I do now know very much about Mr. Harding nor does anyone else in the aviation community.

The unfortunate fact is that we’ve NEVER had anyone from inside the aviation industry run TSA.

The good news about Harding that I can see on it’s face, is that he comes from a strong intelligence background. That’s a key component in ANY aviation security system, and in any security system period. Continue Reading