Tag Archives: Airport

Homeland Security steps up screening of aviation employees

Homeland Security steps up screening of aviation employees

By KATHRYN A. WOLFE

A TSA agent is shown. | Getty

The Department of Homeland Security tightened screening requirements for airport and airline employees today, following a three-month review triggered by allegations of gun-smuggling by airline employees last year.

The changes mean that all airport and airline employees traveling as passengers will have to go through TSA security screening. Aviation workers will also have to submit to a “fingerprint-based criminal history records check” every two years, until TSA can create a real-time system for criminal background checks.

In addition, airports will have to reduce the number of ways to access secure areas to an “operational minimum.” Aviation employees will also be screened more often, including randomly throughout the workday.

Two Senate Democrats were quick to praise the action. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the new steps a “prompt response and a significant first step,” but also said “more is needed.”

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the top ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee that oversees the TSA, said it’s a “decent first step. But we need to continue to look at the long-term picture and see how we can broaden this in a cost-effective way.”

This additional screening won’t be “100 percent physical,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement, because it would “not completely eliminate potential risks, but would divert critical resources from other critical security functions to mitigate other risks.”

In the gun-smuggling case, authorities said four men including a Delta Air Lines baggage handler were able to smuggle guns from Atlanta to New York on board airplanes, including getting the guns through security. One of the defendants was traveling using the “Buddy Pass” privileges of his mother, a retired Delta gate agent, ABC News reported at the time.

Flights diverted at airport as drone sighted over runway

Flights diverted at airport as drone sighted over runway

Manchester airport suspended flights on one of its runways for 20 minutes after members of the public reported spotting a drone

An airport diverted flights and suspended one runway after a drone was sighted flying nearby.

Manchester airport halted operations on its Runway One to allow police to investigate the sighting, a spokesman said.

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The runway was suspended for around 20 minutes and four inbound flights were diverted to nearby Liverpool and East Midlands airports.

The growth in civilian drone technology in recent years has led to concerns over how the new remotely-controlled aircraft may interfere with other aircraft.

A Manchester Airport spokesman said: “Due to a report of a potential drone sighting in airspace near to the airport, some flights have experienced short delays and a small number of flights have diverted to alternative airports whilst Greater Manchester Police carried out an investigation using their Police Helicopter. Upon inspection, nothing was found.

“As the safety and security of all of our passengers is paramount, operations on Runway One were suspended for 20 minutes. Runway Two, which was unaffected, will remain open for an hour so normal traffic flows can resume.”

John Mayhew, air traffic control company Nats’ general manager at Manchester Airport, said: “Flying drones in the close vicinity to any airport without permission is completely unacceptable, with the reported sighting causing delays to inbound and outbound traffic and the diversion of a small number aircraft to other airports.

“The matter has now been referred to the police.”

The UK board investigating aircraft near misses last December described how a device believed to be a small radio-controlled helicopter drone came within 20ft of an incoming Airbus A320 passenger plane at Heathrow airport.

The Airbus was 700ft from landing when the pilot reported seeing a small black object to the left of the aircraft, the report said.

‘Mutiny’ on plane: Police called twice as passengers are forced to wait on tarmac for five hours

‘Mutiny’ on plane: Police called twice as passengers are forced to wait on tarmac for five hours

Police were twice called to a stationary aircraft after reports of passengers clashing with staff over being stranded on tarmac for over five hours when their plane was diverted.

Pilots of the Qatar Airways flight landed at Birmingham Airport on Monday night after severe winds prevented the plane landing at Manchester, where it had been scheduled to arrive at 7PM.

Passengers were instructed to remain in their seats as they waited for the plane to be refuelled and for new flight crew to arrive at the airport.

Police were first called to the aircraft after some passengers reportedly began vocally expressing their agitation and officers were forced to return two hours later after reports that angry passengers were attempting to disembark the plane.

Footage taken at Manchester Airport shows passengers waiting for the return flight becoming increasingly frustrated with staff after the events in Birmingham resulted in a knock-on delay to the aircraft’s return to Qatari capital Doha.

One passenger who was in the plane when it was on the tarmac and asked not to be named, spoke to The Daily Mail: “We were told they were waiting for refuelling and then a new crew.

“Some passengers started kicking off so the police were called. An old lady next to me was shivering so we asked for blankets but there weren’t enough.

“When we got home I had to sleep for two days to recover.”

A spokeswoman for Qatar Airways apologised for the delay. She said that after the diversion the plane was unable to fly back to Manchester as operating crew had exceeded their legal flying hours by the time that the aircraft had been refuelled.

3 transported to hospitals after plane skids off runway at New York’s LaGuardia Airport

3 transported to hospitals after plane skids off runway at New York’s LaGuardia Airport

Three people were transported to hospitals Thursday morning after a Delta plane skidded off a runway at New York’s LaGuardia Airport during a snow storm, prompting the airport to temporarily close.

The plane, a MD-88 that was traveling from Atlanta to New York, was carrying 125 passengers and five crew members. Those on board were able to exit the plane on emergency slides. Passengers trudged through the snow in an orderly line after climbing off the plane.

The condition of those transported to hospitals was not immediately clear, but authorities reported only minor injuries.

Aaron Smith, a passenger in Row 13 told MyFoxNY.com that the plane’s left wing was sheared off of the plane.

“Little shaken up,” Smith said. “I don’t think any of this is going to sink in until tomorrow.”

The airport announced that it was closed Thursday that it reopened one of its two runways.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the incident. Authorities said at a press conference Thursday afternoon that shortly before the incident, two planes landed without incident and pilots reported “good breaking action.”

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Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spokesman Joe Pentangelo said the plane went off the runway at around 11:10 a.m. The Fire Department of New York says no injuries have been reported.

Photos showed the plane in the snow, with its nose appearing to have broken through a fence.

Pentangelo said the plane is apparently leaking fuel.

New York Giants tight end Larry Donnell, one of the passengers on the plane, told the Associated Press he felt blessed to be safe after the scary landing.

“I feel fine physically and hopefully all the other passengers did not have any significant injuries,” Donnell said in an email. “We were all shocked and alarmed when the plane started to skid, but most importantly, as far as I know, all of the passengers and flight crew were able to exit the plane safely.”

Michael J. Moritz Jr., a well-known Broadway producer, said he was commenting on the heavy snow on the runway when he saw the plane come in for a landing.

“Landing looked normal, didn’t look abnormally rough at all,” Moritz wrote in an email. “Once on the ground, the plane lost control very quickly, visibility was low.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

TSA Disputes Claim That It Will Spy On Air Travelers’ Social Media, Credit Card Activities

TSA Disputes Claim That It Will Spy On Air Travelers’ Social Media, Credit Card Activities

TSA airport security

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says language included in a draft agreement that was to allow private contractors to scour air travelers’ social media activities and credit card purchases before approving them for expedited travel under the agency’s PreCheck program was included “inadvertently.”

The TSA recently filed a request for proposal which included the draft agreement with third-party vendors the agency plans to hire to pre-screen PreCheck applicants.

Under the agreement, companies hired by TSA would plug “commercial data” into algorithms to determine whether travelers qualified as “low-risk,” and, thus, eligible for PreCheck boarding at airports.

According to the agreement, commercial data would include criminal and real estate records as well as “other publicly available information, such as directories, press reports, location data and information that individuals post on blogs and social media sites.”

The agreement would have also allowed the companies to screen applicants’ “purchase information, customer lists from registration websites, and self-reported information provided by consumers that is obtained by commercial data sources such as data brokers.”

The draft agreement caused concern among some civil liberties advocates who worried about the prospect of allowing companies and the federal government to have access to travelers’ Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as their credit card purchase history.

One cybersecurity expert had another concern — that such a move by TSA would actually create a false sense of security amid an uptick in terror threats.

But the federal agency, which falls under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security, says it has no plans to allow private companies to monitor PreCheck applicants’ social media or purchase information.

“We have no intention on allowing contractors to collect this data,” a spokesman for TSA told The Daily Caller.

“The line on social media and purchase history was inadvertently included in the [request for proposal], and will be removed in an updated amendment to the solicitation.”

PreCheck allows travelers to avoid the normal — often lengthy — airport screening process which requires the removal of shoes, belts, coats, laptops and certain gels or liquids from carry-on luggage.

As part of what it is billing as an expansion effort to increase enrollment in the program, TSA hopes that private companies will more efficiently market, enroll, and pre-screen individual PreScreen applicants.

“By leveraging private-sector best practices in business operations, marketing, and algorithm optimization, TSA hopes to provide a better travel experience for an increased number of ‘trusted travelers’ while focusing our attention on unknown and potentially higher-risk passengers,” the TSA spokesman told TheDC.

The spokesman did not clarify how the references to social media and credit card activity accidentally ended up in the draft agreement. It is also unclear whether the private companies TSA hires will be allowed to access the other types of information included in the errant proposal.

One safeguard the agency implemented in its arrangements with private companies is that it has final say over what algorithms firms use in their pre-screening efforts.

FAA Facility in Chicago Set On Fire, Air Traffic There Grounded

FAA Facility in Chicago Set On Fire, Air Traffic There Grounded

Suspect attempted suicide inside FAA, arrested

airplane airliner airport plane commerical

Authorities charged an Illinois man late Friday with setting a fire at a control facility outside of Chicago that caused chaos within the facility and throughout the nation with thousands of flight cancellations.

Federal prosecutors charged Brian Howard, 36, in connection with an early morning fire at the Federal Aviation Administration Air Route Traffic Control Center in Aurora, Ill.

The fire severely damaged the facility, which helps to direct regional air traffic throughout the Midwest, causing an evacuation and quickly grounding flights and stranding passengers. As many as 2,000 flights were cancelled through the day. United, American Airlines, Delta and Southwest scrapped a combined 1,000 flights alone, CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues reported.

Passengers wait in line to check in for flights at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, Sept. 26, 2014.
Passengers wait in line to check in for flights at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, Sept. 26, 2014.

According to the criminal complaint, Howard, an FAA contract employee at the airport, entered the control center just after 5:00 a.m., dragging a roller board suitcase with him. About 30 minutes later, a relative saw a Facebook message that indicated he intended to commit suicide and forwarded the message to the Naperville police. A few minutes later a worker at the control center called 911 to report a fire.

Paramedics who arrived on the scene found Howard attempting to kill himself with a knife as well as materials he allegedly used to start the fire. He was removed from the scene and taken to a nearby hospital in Aurora.

Howard remains hospitalized and no court date has been set for an appearance, according to the FBI. If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Amateur video shows two planes in ‘near miss’ at Barcelona airport

Amateur video shows two planes in ‘near miss’ at Barcelona airport

by euronews.com

An aviation enthusiast has captured the moment two planes came dangerously close to colliding at Barcelonaairport on Saturday morning.

The amateur footage, caught on camera by Miguel Angel, shows a Boeing 767 from Russian airline Utair coming into land as an Argentinean Airbus A340 taxis across the runway. The Russian jet pulls up and performs a ‘go-around’, landing safely shortly after.

AENA, the public body that manages most Spanish airports, described the situation as “perfectly normal” and reassured there had been “no incident”. AENA also suggested that the angle of the filming gives the impression that the two planes are closer than in reality, although Miguel Angel described it as “one of the worst experiences I have ever had” on his YouTube channel.