Under the Spotlight

According to CBS News in L.A., TSA faces allegations that its employees at Los Angeles International Airport were caught on tape using drugs. The investigation began last year when a TSA worker was arrested for allegedly counterfeiting parking passes in the employee lot.

In South Carolina at the Greenville-Spartnburg International Airport, a bomb sniffing dog gave a possible alert that caused the evacuation of B concourse and a Delta flight. A bomb detection team found nothing.

In Newark, where recently a security breach caused the evacuation of Terminal C, the video camera that was supposed to see the exit lane where the breach occurred was not working. The breach resulted in thousands of passengers having to be re-screened and flights delayed.

I bring up these three incidents as newsworthy, but only newsworthy in the sense that we are once again keeping the spotlight on aviation security. I’ve tracked hundreds of these types of incidents over the past five years as they occur weekly and sometimes daily throughout the United States. It’s part of the noise of the system. Do not let yourself feel less safe because it appears that the system is failing or falling apart.

Related to this, I also get daily email feeds about other aviation issues, such as the number of emergency landings due to some mechanical problem. In most every case, its a safe landing, but we don’t hear much about it because it’s part of life and not that unique.

We should of course fix these problems when they are identified but these are human problems. TSA personnel are not the first to be accused of doing drugs on duty. Two years ago a couple of Federal Air Marshals were arrested for smuggling firearms and drugs. In every aspect of the industry — every industry — there are these types of problems, but with aviation security we’d like to see these individuals held to a higher standard. Perhaps it’s time to take a look at TSA’s hiring practices and workplace environment to determine if the system is working.

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