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.