266. In test, airport screeners miss most fake bombs; near collisions between aircraft on the ground little changed
In a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) study, airport screeners at Chicago’s O’Hare missed 60% of fake bombs hidden in clothes and carry-ons in tests conducted in 2006. The failure rate at LAX was 75%. Meanwhile NASA withheld the results of an $8.5 million airline safety study which showed that runway traffic problems and near collisions occurred much more often than previously thought. It went so far as to order the contractor which conducted the study to purge all trace of the study’s data from its computer system. The rationale was that NASA did not want to scare anyone. It is currently rethinking its decision. Feel safer?
On November 15, 2007, the GAO released a report on airport security. It was a follow up to a March 2006 study. Investigators were still able to pass through comercially available components for improvised explosive and incendiary devices at 19 US airports even when screeners were following standard security procedures.
A GAO report dated November 20, 2007 but released December 5, 2007 noted that the FAA has made some progress in runway and ramp safety at US airports. 70% of US commercial airports were found to be substantially in compliance, up from 55% in 2000. Incursions (aircraft potentially colliding on the ground) had not, however, decreased in the last 5 years. The FAA is supposed to update its safety plan every 2-3 years but had not done so since 2002 resulting in a lack of coordination among airports on safety issues. The FAA did not keep adequate data on planes overruning runway and ramp areas or on rampway injuries. Finally, its alerting systems did not always work.