Friday, August 29, 2008

Next Comes the Chainsaw Test

In an attempt to test the physical security of aircraft parked overnight on the ramp at O'Hare, a TSA inspector climbed on top of nine different American Eagle airplanes, using the external Total Air Temperature probes as a foothold. Forty flights were delayed while mechanics inspected the sensors, which are required for proper function of cockpit instrumentation. More details are given in this article.

That was stunning enough when I heard about it, but not beyond the bounds of imagination when I consider the zealous actions of the TSA inspectors I encounter regularly. Someone hadn't informed this guy that an airplane is not a jungle gym but a very delicate piece of machinery. Despite the fact that it can travel at close to the speed of sound, it is easily damaged by applying force to the wrong parts of it. I imagined that he would have a little talking to, and a memo would go out, advising people not to climb on airplanes they are supposed to protect. At least now I know whom the instructions on a toothpick box are intended for.

But then I found out that there already was a memo. A memo encouraging TSA officers to attempt to enter aircraft parked on the ramp. Someone's model of airplane security is just wrong. These aren't tanks. They are designed to keep air pressure in, to resist small bird strikes, to be quickly evacuated in case of fire. They are not designed as idiot-proof fortresses. The TSA sees this action as akin to a security officer trying doorknobs. They don't see that it's more like the security officer kicking in windows. It's like someone hired as a bodyguard for a family came along and pushed all the kids off their bicycles, to see if they were tough. Well no, they're not. It is fairly easy to get into an airplane that is stopped on the ground, especially if you don't mind damaging it in the process. That's why we need security.

My aircraft is sitting locked on an unsecured (no fence) ramp right now. I'm glad there is no TSA security to 'check on it' for me.


amulbunny's random thoughts said...

Wonder if American Eagle is going to bill DHS/TSA for the damage caused, lost hours and lost wages not to mention the aggravated pax who could not get where they wanted because some yahoo who thinks he/she is James Bond tried to get into a plane?

Ya gotta wonder. And no it won't be chain saws, it's going to be little mirrors on handles looking up into the wheel wells to make sure no terr'ist can hide in them.


Callsign Echo said...

holy jebus. That is simply ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I forget who originally said this a few years ago, but it's the best summarization of what's happened: "Instead of trying to fit security into an aviation system, the TSA has tried to force aviation into a security system."

Aviatrix said...

Mirrors on handles probably wouldn't damage the airplane. Unless they were left in there and jammed the gear.

I understand that the TSA now wants to fine American Eagle for security violations because apparently he did manage to break into some of the airplanes.

Grant (Falcon124) said...

Will this insanity for American Eagle be the straw that breaks the camel's back? Will it be enough to get Americans to *finally* slap these idiots back down into place?

The TSA is doing security the wrong way with No-Fly Lists, ID checks, idiots on scanners and now this total perversion of inspections. Meanwhile, back door gates to airports are left unwatched, access passes are lost and not checked, vehicles entering secure areas without being checked for hiders or packages and criminals & illegal immigrants working as cleaners onboard aircraft.

What will it take for someone to stand up and say the emperor has no clothes?

(btw, I liked the "kicking in windows" and "pushing the kids of their bikes" analogies - nice ones :)

Grant (Falcon124) said...

Oh yeah, don't forget that TSA wants to extend its scope to General Aviation - imagine this happening to your aircraft. Scary, huh? :(