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Aviation experts warn: U.S. airport security gaps alarming
March 7, 2011
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    Cynthia Hodges

    Last November’s security breach at Charlotte/Douglas Airport in which a teenager

    bypassed airport security to board an aircraft and later fell to his death

    raised questions about gaps in airport security plans.

    Experts warn that the high number of incidents in which

    unauthorized individuals breach perimeter security, including tarmacs exposes a

    vulnerability found at airports across the country.

    In a recent study by a researcher at Purdue University on Indiana general

    aviation airportsecurity perimeters, the author stated that the results

    are typical at thousands of airports all over the country with budgets that do

    not to include funds to adequately fence their properties, endangering

    countless flights each year.

    All 450 commercial airports in the U.S. must establish security

    programs of varying complexity, depending on airport size and activity.

    However, TSA is responsible for overseeing airport

    operator efforts to maintain perimeter and access control security.

    The Government Accountability Office, an independent organization

    that releases annual reports on aviatoin security defines airport perimeters as the fence surrounding an

    airport including access gates and access controls that prevent unauthorized

    access to restricted areas and even the persons at the controls.

    The results of an investigation into the death of Delvonte Tisdale by a taskforce assembled

    by the Charlotte, N.C. Police Department revealed several security gaps in

    which the teen could have breached to access the tarmac.

    Reports of airport perimiter security breaches are alarming, yet

    more common than most Americans realize. While most incidents result in little

    damage, the what might have been is chilling – and often unreported.

    On August 19, 2010 a pickup truck crashed through a fence and

    drove onto the tarmac at Dallas Love Field.

    Although the public was led to believe it was an isolated

    incident, a Dallas News investigation revealed that the Love Field fence has

    been breached or damaged 20 times in less than five years.

    A New York City news station has been

    following a $100 million project to provide the perimeters of all four Port

    Authority airports with surveillance cameras and motion sensors is now nearly

    four years behind schedule.

    A tip from a NYC Port Authority Officer provided a local ABC news

    station with photographs to demonstrate the severity of the perimeter fence at JFK Airport.

    After an aerial view by helicopter, the investagative team

    reported that yhe condition of perimeter fence is even worse than in the


    The concerned anonymous source enclosed a memo explaining that

    attempts to alert “higher ups” about the deterrioration of the fence

    were ignored.

    At least a quarter mile of the perimeter fence is down,

    leaving a gaping hole in security along a main JFK runway.

    The former Director of Security for Israel’s EI AI Airline Isaac Yeffet called the lack of basic

    perimeter security at JFK Airport shameful.

    Los Angelas International (LAX) airport is

    accepting bids to either replace the entire fence or adding a series of

    consistent security measures along the airport perimeter.

    An airport official said that although the current eight-mile

    perimeter fence complies with federal regulations, it has been built in stages

    over the past decade and has no one consistent security standard.

    Officials deemed Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

    security perimeter in need of security improvements after a man in a stolen

    truck was able to breach them and gain access to the airfield.

    In 2007, a ten million dollar project was announced to reinforce

    and upgrade the fences surrounding the airfield.

    In 2010, former chief of security at O’Hare James Maurer cited

    security threats in a lawsuit filed against the city of Chicago accusing city

    leaders of only concerned about the $15 billion modernization and expansion plan under way

    at O’Hare.

    Maurer had voiced concerns repeatedly about “potentially

    catastrophic terrorist opportunities at O’Hare Airport and was continually

    ignored and then dismissed.

    Former Security Chief James Maurer called Chicago’s O’Hare

    Airport the least secure airport in the country.

    One security threat listed in the lawsuit is the airport allows

    10,000 private vehicles owned by airline workers to be parked inside the

    security perimeter at O’Hare Airport.

    The suit said it would not detail other security gaps for fear

    that the information might fall into the wrong hands.

    The aviation security chief warned of the danger in unarmed

    security officers guard perimeter checkpoints that prevent unauthorized access

    to the tarmac and back areas at O’Hare and Midway.

    CHICAGO EXAMINER2011-03-07false