Whenever there is a security incident, it compels us to evaluate our existing tactics and strategies.
Recently, the hijacking in Mexico, which turned out to be one man bluffing about a bomb and claiming that he and the Holy Trinity were hijacking the plane to warn of a pending Earthquake in Mexico, has reminded us of a time in the early 70s, shortly after screening was implemented. Back about 1974, when the bad guys found it difficult to get a gun or bomb on a plane, there were several hijack attempts by individuals who bluffed about having a bomb.
Hard to screen against a bomb or gun that does not exist. However, that’s what it seems the Mexican authorities are now going to investigate. Check the link regarding “Mexican police chief cites airport security lapse in hijacking.”
The article discusses how screeners in Cancun should have spotted a fake bomb. Frankly, we train and pay screeners to distinguish between things that will cause the plane harm and things that will not. To have them also have the acumen to spot a fake device, while it would be nice, is asking a bit much. The screener that can spot a fake is a savvy screener indeed and worthy of merit, but the screener that misses the fake bomb, while still catching the real deal, is simply doing his or her job.
I agree that processes should be looked at whenever there is an incident, but at some point we realize that we’re just measuring the noise of the system. There will always be the odd event, such as the hijack in Mexico, that no amount of aviation security is going to deter. Let’s not focus our valuable time, money and talent on fine tuning the system if it’s doing it’s job. At some point, it will hit diminishing returns, and then the screeners, so focussed with finding everything, will find nothing.