• Arizona legislators thwarted by TSA

    The TSA has thwarted the effort by Arizona legislators to require airports statewide to hire private firms instead of relying on the federally procured screening agents; Phoenix officials support TSA chief John Pistole’s rejection of all incoming security contracting proposals

  • Chechen warlord claims responsibility for Moscow airport bombing

    Doku Umarov, the notorious head of the Chechen extremist group Caucasus Emirate, claimed responsibility for the 24 January suicide bombing at Moscow’s airport that left thirty-six people dead and 180 injured; Umarov promised further attacks and spoke of his organization’s ability to carry out operations “whenever and wherever [they] want”; Umarov’s group is also responsible for the March 2010 bombing in the Moscow Metro and derailing a train in November 2009; Caucasus Emirate seeks to establish a Muslim nation in the Caucasus region and expel Russia

  • Revamping inbound mail security

    After an explosive printer cartridge was found last year en route to the United States in UPS and FedEx shipments, DHS and industry are now collaborating to establish “precautionary” security measures and improve the flow of parcels and packages

  • Largest Moscow airport testing of facial biometric system

    Moscow’s busy Sheremetyevo International Airport recently concluded initial tests of a new facial biometric security system; the system, BROADWAY 3D, relies on a three dimensional surface scan of an individual’s face; the system is highly automated and minimizes the need for human supervision; during its one month of testing, 3,500 people were automatically screened with 100 percent accuracy; BROADWAY 3D is manufactured by Artec Ventures; Sheremetyevo International is Moscow’s largest airport and has seen rapid increases in passenger traffic; last year more than nineteen million people traveled through the airport

  • Risk-based security approach on TSA's horizon

    Several industry organizations are proposing dividing airline passengers into three categories — trusted, regular, or risky — and treating members of each category differently at airports security checkpoints; the categorization of passengers will be done by taking data that the government and the airlines are already collecting about passengers and bring it to the checkpoint

  • Technology for monitoring wine quality to improve airport security

    A university of California Davis professor a magnetic resonance scanner — similar to machines used in medical scanning — to check the quality of wine; he then realized that the method could be used at airports to check bottles and cans for explosives without opening them; “I’m a tinkerer, I like to build stuff,” said Matthew Augustine, a chemistry professor at the school

  • TSA blog does little to allay fears of Domodedovo-like incident

    At Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport a few weeks ago, a suicide bomber walked into the arrivals hall and killed 35 people and injured 168; on its blog, TSA says that one of the measures the agency has instituted — installing behavior detection officers (BDO) at U.S. airports to spot suspicious behavior — would go a long way toward preventing a Domodedovo-like incident in the United States; skeptics beg to differ

  • Pistole takes aim at Mica

    The decision by the TSA to deny an application by Springfield-Branson Airport in Missouri to privatize its checkpoint workforce signals a turnaround in TSA policy; until recently TSA said it neither endorsed nor opposed private screening; TSA would keep contractors at sixteen out of roughly 460 U.S. airports, but would refuse to employ others elsewhere unless clear advantages were made known

  • TSA halts private security screener program

    In an about face, the TSA has halted its private screening program at airports; last December the TSA declared that it was neutral on the program, however last Friday the TSA denied an airport in Missouri its request for private screeners and declared that it would reject all incoming proposals; Representative John Mica, a vocal advocate for the program, was shocked to hear of TSA’s new plan and promised to launch an investigation into the matter; currently less than twenty airports use private security screeners

  • Syracuse mayor determined to use private contractors at airport

    With more than 100 police officers working overtime at the Syracuse airport, the average cost to the city, after salary, pension costs, and Social Security taxes amounts to $63 an hour per officer; the city mayor says that high air fares from the major air carriers affiliated with Syracuse’s Hancock International Airport are mostly due to security costs — and one way to reduce these costs is to replace the officers with a private sector contractor

  • TSA will not expand private screening at airports

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has decided not to expand a program that would allow airports to replace government security screeners with private screeners; the news comes a month after the agency said it was “neutral” on the program; the private screening program became popular following the uproar over enhanced security pat-downs, which some travelers found intrusive — even though private screeners must follow the very same procedures government screeners do

  • Wheel-well passengers typically die

    The FAA has counted eighty-six cases of wheel-well stowaways in the United States since 1947, with the majority of them having occurred since the late 1990s; out of the cases reported by the FAA, eighteen people have survived; the TSA is mentioned to have been working collaboratively with the DHS Science and Technology Directorate to develop stowaway detection technologies

  • Moscow airport blast to force security rethinking

    Experts say it is significant that those who masterminded the Moscow attack chose to bomb the arrivals hall of the airport — Moscow’s busiest — because it was an easier target than the heavily-policed departures area; one expert says: “Arrivals has always been thought of as the ‘soft’ area of an airport —- Nobody is flying anywhere, the baggage has all been screened, because it has been on planes already, and crucially, people are leaving the airport. It’s very rare that you ever saw somebody carrying a bag in to arrivals”; airports may begin screening people who come to meet friends and family at arrivals; “What will happen is that the barrier will get further and further back, so no longer is it just at departures, but at the airport door, or in some cases on the road as you drive up to the terminal,” says the expert

  • Pointing lasers at aircraft a growing problem

    According to the FBI, in 2008 there were approximately 1,000 instances of people aiming laser pointers at the pilots of aircraft; in the eight month period from January to August of 2010, there were 1,700 reported incidents, demonstrating an increasing trend in the cases; the light emitted by a laser pointer can then be directed toward and seen by a pilot, causing visual impairment such as glare on the windshield of the aircraft as well as flash blindness and after-images like the kind that can be experienced after a flash picture is taken; even if the beam does not hit the pilot directly causing temporary blindness, the beam can be distracting at times when distractions can be deadly

  • Israel slow on aviation reform

    The vaunted Israeli airport security has come under criticism lately; the U.S. government has ranked Israel’s air safety among the world’s worst, lumping it with countries like Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, and Zimbabwe; the reason: although Israel has never experienced an airport crash, experts say civil aviation in the country was neglected for decades, with authorities slow to renovate runways and introduce state-of-the-art instrument landing and radar technology; crowded airspace shared by civil and military flights further complicates matters