JetBlue attendant’s “escape” highlights security issues

The main problem with the JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater’s ‘escape’ from Kennedy Airport is that employee’s actions highlight the security threat from airline and airport employees. While this gentleman did not pose a particular security risk through his actions, aviation security history is rife with examples of disgruntled employees, or individuals who get jobs with the airlines or airports so they can commit crime and terror.

The most notable case is that of David Burke, who, in 1987, was put on administrative leave and was being investigated for theft from a flight attendance petty cash fund. However, his supervisor did not confiscate his airline and airport credentials which allowed him to bypass screening carrying a firearm onto PSA Flight 1771. When the plane was at cruising altitude he pulled out the gun and shot his supervisor who was commuting home on the flight. He then went into the cockpit and shot both pilots, then himself. The plane spun out of control and killed 44 near San Diego, California.
Another notable incident occurred in 1994, when Auburn Calloway, a Flight Engineer for FedEx was also placed under admin leave under investigation for falsifying his pilot log book (a career killer in our industry). He hijacked a FedEx flight and attempted to kill the flight crew and crash the plane into the ground. He was successfully fought off by the crew and the plane landed. Calloway is serving a life sentence in Georgia.
I could go on with numerous examples.
The “solution” for these types of problems lies within workplace violence and pre-incident indicators, not directly within the aviation security system. So, this is a security issue, but not his actions, more so the underlying cause that prompted him to take those actions.

5 Responses to JetBlue attendant’s “escape” highlights security issues

  1. What ever happend to the passanger who started all this?…
    Steven Slater is free to quit his job any way he pleases, but when his job involves watching over the safety of others, he can be acting like a child.

  2. While humorous, the recent example of the Jet Blue flight attendant’s dramatic meltdown should not diminish the possible danger posed by an upset employee. The author’s example of David Burke highlights the importance of special security issues regarding employees and the possible tragic consequences. Employees will probably never be considered on the same level of a public passenger security-wise, but there needs to be layers of safety built in to prevent a disgruntled employee from implementing some type of revenge scheme that puts the public at risk.

    This is a sensitive issue as employees need not to feel like possible criminals while working. The airlines should spend significant resources on preventing workplace violence while not upsetting their employees in the process.

  3. Maybe more action has to be taken before employment at an airport. Maybe Human Resources needs to look at previous altercations the potential employee has gone through. They also might want to come up with a special test that shows possible rage in the future.

    • I agree. There is a huge workplace violence issue that people generally ignore.

  4. While I was reading an earlier blog of Jeffrey’s this issue ran across my mind. It is such a significant issue and it most definitely poses such great threats upon the aviation industry. This could seemingly happen at anytime as well, not just when an employee is on a leave, they could do it honestly whenever they please. It worries me to think that terrorists in disguise could get jobs at such airports and sneak weapons and explosives into airplanes in flight and hijack them. I’m not certain whether you have to be a U.S. citizen to work at an airport, but if not then the could seriously pose great threats. The solution is a very tough one since people can’t just know who would do such a thing, so many people are hired at airports and it takes just one person to bypass through and hijack and airplane or do some other sort of damage. This is such a huge risk and the solution is such a tough one, because there really isn’t a solution to this situation.

Adopting an Airport Text for Your Classroom?Get it Now