What Airport Security?

By Bonnie Chernin Rogoff
Rightgrrl Contributor
Founder, Jews For Life

November 15, 2001

Don Carty is not a happy man.

As Chairman, President and CEO of American Airlines, he's had to watch three of his planes get pulverized in two months. A lack of airport security resulted in the planes that crashed on 9-11. Now, it's allegedly a mechanical snafu, which may be credited to a hasty maintenance check by an incompetent or careless repair crew one day prior. Then, of course, is the fact that the engine is built with parts flimsier than recycled Saran Wrap.

They make better engines in toy trucks for tots than the General Electric CF-6 built for the Airbus aircraft. It is not a safe engine, and the Airbus is not a safe plane. The history surrounding the CF-6 engine is grim, including incidences of explosions, structural damage and turbines separating and dropping off from the main fuselage. Incidents around the world were reported from CF-6 engine failure that either resulted in fatalities or aborted takeoffs. The FAA has increased inspection requirements for these engines in recent years.

Jetliners are mechanical marvels that require frequent inspection and maintenance to keep the public safe. With an airline industry in a financial tailspin and Wall Street always looking at the bottom line, could American Airlines been pushing the envelope a little too far to ensure filled flights get off the ground on time?

The flight paths around Newark, Kennedy and LaGuardia airports aren't safe, either. Overworked air traffic controllers must juggle landings and takeoffs in swift succession to ensure the profit pipeline continues unabated. What pressures are maintenance crews under to move planes from hangers to the tarmac and ultimately the skies around the New York area?

My husband, who is a frequent flier, knew about the potential airport security breaches for quite some time. A number of years ago he was picking up our two cats from the American Airlines Cargo area at Newark Airport. Having missed a road sign, he made a wrong turn and found his car perpendicular to an active Newark airport runway. Only a flimsy wooden barrier and an unarmed female security guard in a small booth prevented him from driving onto the tarmac and creating a September 11 incident on the ground. Numerous security checks by government agencies and the media have highlighted flaws in access to our runways and aircraft in all major cities.

If sabotage were the ultimate cause of this horror, it would not be surprising. Poor physical security, including the use of push button combination locks at gate areas that can be easily overcome, may lead a determined saboteur to access the airplane's cabin or engines. Is implementation of retina scans or hand telemetry to positively identify a valid airline employee too high a price to pay for safety?

My husband and I live less than five miles from the new "Ground Zero" (yep, that's what some reporters are calling it). If I were taking my weekly walk in Floyd Bennett Field, I would have seen the horror of Flight 587's deadly descent. The Rockaway's are a stone's throw from Marine Park, Brooklyn. Like the people in my neighborhood, many of the residents are working class folks. In the terrorist attack, the Rockaways lost forty of their neighborhood firefighters and policemen. Marine Park Brooklyn suffered greatly with many wakes and funerals within blocks of our home.

It is very sad when a community that suffered some of the worst casualties of 9-11 should once again be facing more tragedy. Our hearts go out to the people who lost loved ones and hope the ultimate cause of this tragic event was accidental and not something that was easily preventable.

Copyright 2001 by Bonnie Chernin Rogoff. Not to be reproduced in any fashion, in whole or in part, without written consent from the author. All rights reserved.