By Jodi Prill, Associate Editor
About This Report
BUSINESS recently conducted in-depth interviews with representatives
of some 15 U.S. airports regarding security. The concensus: There
is a good chance the federal deadlines for baggage screening and
security checkpoints will be met, despite the associated challenges.
Airport officials across the country have similar concerns: Where and how will the baggage screening equipment fit in each facility? What’s going to happen to the security force currently under contract?
officials report progress, express concerns for meeting federal deadlines
Lockheed Martin and Boeing, consultants for TSA, are scheduled to make trips to more than 400 airports in order to assess the needs of each airport in meeting the November 19 deadline for security checkpoints, and the December 31 deadline for 100 percent baggage screening. AIRPORT BUSINESS conducted interviews with 15 airports across the country to find out where each is in this process and to hear the concerns airport officials.
Olson, director of Cheyenne (WY) and current American Associa-tion of
Airport Executives chair, says Lockheed has visited his airport to discuss
security checkpoint needs. He says a plan was submitted to the TSA, which
would involve extending the current screening area by 30x15 feet.
Upon its review, TSA returned to Cheyenne a revised plan. Explains Olson, "Because of the deadline and budgetary concerns, they’ve come back to us and provided a modified plan basically cramming the equipment into the existing space, which creates three or four modifications to standards. So we have said, ’No, that’s not acceptable.’ We’re not going to open up a screening area that doesn’t meet the standards that the TSA itself has laid out, because of timing or budget reasons. I don’t want to come back years later when it’s full of people and again disrupt things."
Westchester County (NY) Airport recently met with Boeing’s representatives to review a possible solution to meeting the 100 percent baggage screening requirement.
"We’re assuming the Westchester size airports will use ETD and we discussed what we felt would be appropriate for our arrangement and they (the consultants) took that under advisement," says Joel Russell, airport manager. "If they use ETD in the area of the terminal that we are suggesting, the affect on the terminal as far as structure will be modest. However, it will have an impact on space available for passenger handling."
The terminal building at Westchester is only 4,200 sq. ft., which poses a problem for the airport. Russell explains, "We anticipate whatever space TSA asks for we don’t have in the terminal right now without dislodging a current tenant. We don’t exactly know where as an airport we’re going to accommodate them."
At Charlottesville-Albemarle (VA) Airport, TSA workers took over duties on August 13. At the time of this interview, Bryan Elliott, executive director, expected 27 to 32 TSA employees to assume responsibilities of screening baggage and handling checkpoint security.
LEOs and Airport Security
TSA has plans to dispatch federal law enforcement officials (LEOs) to airports around the nation. At Shreveport (LA) Airport, Harold Carpenter, chief of airport police, is worried about his job and the jobs of his employees, while Thomas Trudeau, director of Rutland (VT) State Airport has similar concerns for the officers he has contracted to serve his airport.
explains, the airport has its own police force, separate from the
downtown, with 35 employees. "I really need to talk with the
FSD when he gets here to find out just what my people are going
to be doing and what I’m going to be doing," Carpenter
says. "I question why you really need to bring in a bunch of
new federal people. Maybe some airports that don’t have their
own security may need it, but we have a full-time department here.
We can just assume any duty they want."
Thomas Trudeau, manager of Rutland (VT) State Airport, has several unanswered questions. His main issue right now is what’s going to happen to the state police the airport has been contracting to provide security thus far. "That was hard to do," he explains. "The big question they (officers) have is, ’Are we going to do this for a while [because] if we are, we should hire [more personnel]; or are you going to take these jobs away and man it with TSA law enforcement officers?’ I don’t have an answer for them."
Trudeau would like to be able to offer the officers some assurance regarding whether or not they will be needed, but so far the TSA hasn’t been able to address his concern.
Jerry Olson, director of Cheyenne (WY) Airport, says his airport contracted with local police for services as well and the TSA is some $28,000 behind with its reimbursement payments to the airport. "That’s causing us some concern."
Trudeau, manager of Rutland (VT) State Airport, says it is slated for
nine TSA employees, which he first viewed as quite excessive. With only
four flights per day and less than 10,000 square feet of space in the
terminal building, accommodating the TSA requirements might mean a tight
squeeze for a facility modeled after a ski chalet.
"We did set up a screening area on a temporary basis and it’s turned into a more permanent thing," Trudeau explains, "But it ate up quite a bit of that space. So with TSA coming in here, all we’re going to be able to offer them right off the bat is to take over the little conference room we have — probably a 12x15-foot. space."
Trudeau is also concerned about where the baggage screening equipment will fit in the building, and has recommended that his airport receive ETD (Explosive Trace Detection), which doesn’t occupy as much space as the EDS (Explosive Detection System) equipment.
Carolyn Novick, manager of Redmond (OR) Municipal Airport, explains that prior to 9/11, the airport had plans for expansion. "When 9/11 came around, we had just completed initial terminal expansion — after that, we stopped it. We’ll probably go ahead with expansion next year, after we see what’s working in other places."
Unlike Redmond, Cherry Capital (MI) Airport officials couldn’t wait on expansion. As Stephen Cassens, airport director, explains, "Our terminal re-design was done prior to 9/11 and our decision to go forward [with the new terminal] was made several weeks right after 9/11. We felt we could not hesitate or wait to see what the outcome of that was, because we were already having operational issues with our airport."
Lockheed and Boeing have been to Cherry Capital Airport and currently they are, along with the airport, trying to decide on a plan for meeting the deadlines. "Right now it appears that it’s going to be a fairly difficult situation," Cassens says. "We have space limitations in our terminal building." The current terminal is 45,000 sq. feet with a new 108,000-sq. ft. terminal set to open in the winter of 2003. "We already had some limitations in regard to space in the building, and this is just aggravating that more as far as trying to find space to do these additional functions," Cassens explains.
John Lawson, director of Hilton Head (SC) Airport, states it will be a number of months before TSA employees staff his airport. "I’m not planning on seeing any [TSA] law enforcement officers within the next 12 months," he says.
Because of the surge in traffic a resort town like Hilton Head receives on weekends, initial evaluations show the airport will probably require a combination of ETD and EDS technology. No expansions are planned to accommodate additional equipment, but Lawson says that an enclosure will have to be built to house them. "We made it clear to them (consultants) that the machines could not go in the lobby, in front of ticket counters. They have to go in the back."
Boston Logan plans to invest $100 million to make sure it is in compliance when the November and December deadlines roll around. According to airport spokesperson José Juves, the airport is "working six, sometimes seven days a week and 24 hours a day on meeting security requirements." One of the key goals at BOS is to have an entirely inline system, where all bag screening takes place beyond security. "We don’t want a bunch of tables behind the ticket counter with people doing trace detection," Juves adds.
Prompted by the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Salt Lake City International Airport has had 100 percent baggage screening since January. "We think our program is the basis and model that is being used at other airports," says Tim Campbell, executive director.
SLC uses a combination of ETD and EDS, and Campbell expects that there will be some modification of the current setup. "Because of the urgency of getting things in place, there are some building modifications that would improve the throughput of EDS," Campbell explains. "We have a very old terminal building and the EDS machines were put in very small areas that we now need to expand."
Currently, SLC has about 350 contract screeners, who, Campbell foresees, will be replaced by TSA employees by mid-September. TSA has yet to inform SLC of how much space it will require for administrative duties, but Campbell says the airport does not have a lot of options. One possibility is a location "just off the airport."