In a way, it would appear this security thing is beginning to gel. In another, we’re a long way from making passengers, cargo, and aircraft safe ...
But there is good news to report, as a month of convention and airport visits reveals. In Orlando, some 27,000-plus did their best to make this NBAA show as vibrant as everyone remembers, following last year’s abbreviated event. Cessna, Gulfstream, Eclipse and others were making news and taking orders as if the past year was just a blip in economic time. Indications are that it was a strong NBAA, yet there was uncertainty in the air. It was as if Warren Buffett had his fingers crossed while signing those multimillion dollar aircraft orders for NetJets.
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North of Tampa, airport managers came together for AAAE’s National Airports Conference. Few meetings bring a sense of satisfaction like the NAC, a forum in which airport folks roll up their sleeves, share ideas, and come to hear industry leaders in a comfortable environment. With security the theme by no choice, the event kicked off with TSA officials opening their arms to communicate. Gone was the condescending attitude so pervasive until recently. Inspector General Ken Mead says precious time was lost because of TSA’s initial arm’s length approach toward airports.
Says TSA’s Tom Blank, "We’re not clairvoyant in Washington, D.C." Many, it seems, will take comfort in that quote.
Sergeant Don Claypool of the San Diego Harbor Police Department has been working the airport duty for some time. At the NAC, Claypool offered his perspective on airport security, pointing out that federal law enforcement officers (LEOs) are trained in selective enforcement, while local LEOs are trained for volume and immediate incarceration.
In the current changing environment, it’s the reason local LEOs can be a critical link in making airports secure. That, and the fact that "the airport is a community," which Claypool sees as a valuable trait as we try to keep an eye on who is doing what at our airports.
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Tom Slavin, president of the Million Air Cleveland FBO, decided that it was time to get out in front of security and the regulators. He also saw security as a commodity he could market, besides its other obvious advantages. He’s gated, networked, and linked to the city’s airport administration, including law enforcement. If there’s a question about activity on the ramp, a call to the airport police has them viewing the same camera the FBO sees, and they can act accordingly. Oh, and it seems to be helping with his insurance rate.
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The topics mentioned are elaborated upon herein. However, not heard yet in the industry is where we will be once passengers and their baggage are 100 percent screened.
We will still have freight in underbellies and in cargo planes that have not been. And, no matter how safe our industry is, we will still have countries that continue with the threat from afar. We will still have many questions about how our intelligence and immigration services failed us, contrary to our inherent belief that they were on the job.
President Bush is right to maintain his diligence and keep on the offensive. This being America, such diligence must also extend to a full Congressional investigation of just what went wrong on 9/11. We deserve nothing less.
Thanks for reading.
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