More Than 200 Airport Security Breaches In Last 10 Years
An Associated Press investigation found 268 instances in which people breached the perimeter of 31 of the nation's busiest airports between January 2004 and January 2015.
Until now, few of these incidents have been publicly reported, AP said. None of the incidents involved a terrorist plot, according to airport officials.
"The AP's analysis was prompted by a high-profile breach last spring that resulted in one 15-year-old's improbable journey to Hawaii. Yahya Abdi climbed a fence at San Jose International Airport, hoisted himself into a jet's wheel well and survived an almost six-hour flight. Abdi, who lived with his father and stepmother, said he was trying to get back to his mother, a refugee in Ethiopia," said the New York Daily News.
Through public records requests, news archive searches and interviews, the AP created the most comprehensive public accounting of perimeter security breaches from January 2004 through January 2015 at San Jose and the nation's 30 busiest airports. The analysis excluded incidents inside the airport, such as when a passenger went unscreened through a security checkpoint or walked out the wrong exit door.
Among the findings:
- At least 44 times, intruders made it to runways, taxiways or to the gate area where planes park to refuel or load passengers. In five cases, including Abdi's, they got onto jets.
- Seven airports in four states accounted for more than half the breaches, although not all provided data for all years examined. San Francisco International reported the most, with 37. The others were the international airports in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Jose, Miami and Tampa, Florida.
- Four years had more than 30 breaches each: 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2014. The most was 38, in 2014 and 2012; the fewest 12 in 2009.
Here's a look at some of those breaches, from the Huffington Post:
INTOXICATED IN SEATTLE: In October 2014, a 22-year-old woman drove an Acura through a guarded gate at Seattle-Tacoma International, striking an exiting airport vehicle. She then drove to a terminal gate, near taxiing planes with passengers. Authorities said she and her passenger were visibly intoxicated. "I am so dumb! My mom is going to kill me," she told officers.
DEAD BATTERY IN D.C.: In July 2008, a Potomac River boater's battery failed, so he paddled to shore and jumped fencing at Washington's Reagan National to go through a secure area and reach his vehicle to charge the battery. He went back over the fencing and reinstalled the battery.
CHARLOTTE STOWAWAY: In November 2010, a 16-year-old reached a parked airplane at Charlotte Douglas International in North Carolina and hid in the wheel well. He fell when the landing gear opened on approach to Boston and his body was found in a suburb. Authorities never determined how he reached the secure area, but many investigators believed he climbed a tree with a branch that hung over a perimeter fence.
TICKETLESS IN ATLANTA: In August 2012, a man who ran past a security guard near a cargo area at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International dashed across two runways before tug drivers spotted him and called police. He told authorities that he was supposed to be catching a flight to Detroit, but he had no ticket — just $3.50 and a phone charger.
STOWAWAY SURVIVOR: In April 2014, a 15-year-old boy who hid in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines jet and survived a flight from California to Hawaii told police that he had scaled a security fence at Mineta San Jose International. Police couldn't find where he had done so, and video cameras did not capture the breach.
FLORIDA FENCE DIGGER: In September 2014, a man dug under a fence at Orlando International, crossed a tarmac and climbed into a JetBlue plane's wheel well, where he remained for hours. Eventually, he was arrested.
NO I.D. IN MIAMI: In August 2007, a man drove toward a security gate at Miami International, pulled out a picture of Jesus for his identification and told the guard to call police if he wanted. The man then drove onto the airfield, where he was chased down by officers and arrested.
NEAR COLLISION IN PHOENIX: In April 2006, a pilot told air traffic controllers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International that he nearly collided with a man on the runway as he was about to take off. The suspect was arrested, and told authorities that he jumped the fence to take a shortcut — as he had three days earlier without being caught.