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Latest example of aviation security gaps: Truck rams Southwest 737


Keeping bad actors off of aircraft is only part of the aviation security equation.

The disturbing incident at Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska—in which a man scaled a fence to get onto the airport apron, found an unlocked, unoccupied truck with its motor on, and then raced around in the truck before ramming it into a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 parked at a terminal gate—is just the latest example highlighting big gaps in aviation security around the world.

I’ve written about this repeatedly over the years. Airport security is almost entirely focused on screening passengers inside airports who are headed to flights. But what good is all that security in the airport if, as you are boarding your flight, a vehicle is rammed into the aircraft. There were just “minor injuries” in the Omaha incident—the pilots were reportedly rocked around a bit on the flight deck after the truck slammed into the 737’s nose gear. But it’s not hard to imagine a much worse outcome from a similar incident.

Remember the diamond heist at Brussels Airport in 2013? Criminals staged a commando-style raid, breaching a perimeter fence to gain access to a Helvetic Airways Fokker 100 preparing for takoff. The aircraft was carrying valuable diamonds in its cargo hold, and the armed assailants forced ground staff to unload the jewels at gunpoint.

And, of course, there were the recent airport bombings in Brussels and Istanbul.

Keeping bad actors off of aircraft is only part of the aviation security equation. But so much emphasis has been placed on screening passengers bound for flights that not enough resources or thought has gone into the remainder of the aviation security equation, leaving open a gap in which a running truck—temporarily left unattended—is commandeered and crashed into an aircraft as passengers are boarding.  

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