Consumer Reports on Aviation Security and the TSA
It’s not on their website yet, and you’d have to pay to read it in any case, but the February 2008 issue of Consumer Reports has an article on aviation security. Much of it you’ve all heard before, but there are some new bits:
Larry Tortorich, a TSA training officer and former representative to the Joint Terrorism Task Force who retired in 2006, also says he saw problems from the inside. “There was a facade of security. There were numerous security flaws and vulnerabilities I identified. The response was, it wasn’t apparent to the public, so there would not be any corrective action.”
I’ve regularly pointed to reinforcing the cockpit doors as something that was a good idea, and should have been done years earlier.
Critics, however, say a stronger door is only half of the solution. “People have this illusion that hardened cockpit doors work, and they don’t,” Dzakovic says. “If you want to have a secure door, you need to have a double hulled door.”
Consumer Reports searched NAS, the Aviation Safety Reporting System, and found 51 incidents since April 2002 in which flight crews reported problems with the hardened doors.
Most of them weren’t really security issues: locking mechanisms failing, doors popping open in flight, and so on. But this was more interesting:
A 2006 study of aviation security by DFI International, a Washington, D.C. security consultancy, found that a drunken passenger kicked a hole in a door panel and that aircraft cleaners “broke a fortified door off its hinges by running a heavy snack cart into it on a bet.”
El Al, of course, has double doors. But since the cost is between $5K and $10K per aircraft, the airline industry has fought the measure in the U.S.
The article also talks about how poor the screeners actually are, but I’ve covered all that already.