Posts Tagged ‘TSA’

Air Travel Reached 1M Last Sunday

October 21, 2020

The Transportation Security Administration said it screened more than 1 million air travelers on Oct. 18, the highest number of passengers screened at TSA checkpoints since March 17.

In a news release the agency said it screened 6.1 million passengers at checkpoints nationwide during the week of Oct. 12-18.

That was the highest weekly volume for TSA since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last March.

The news release noted, though, that passenger volumes remain well below pre-pandemic levels.

The trade group Airlines for America said U.S. domestic travel was down 63 percent compared with the same period of 2019 for the week ending Oct. 4.

The TSA news release also said new credential authentication devices are being installed at various airport checkpoints that enable passengers to insert their ID directly into a card reader thus ending the need for a TSA screening officer to touch the ID.

Many checkpoints now feature computed tomography scanners, allowing TSA officers to manipulate an image on screen to get a better view of a bag’s contents.

This allows inspections of some carry-on bags without the need to open those bags and remove their contents during the screening process.


Amtrak, TSA Test Explosives Detector

March 2, 2018

A new explosives testing device is being tested by Amtrak and the Transportation Security Administration. Both said it can help detect such explosives as suicide vests.

The device is known as a stand-off explosive detection unit and it triggers an alarm if someone carrying or wearing an improvised explosive device passes it.

In a news release, TSA said the device identifies objects that block naturally occurring emissions from a person’s body.

Security forces operate the device on a laptop in a train station. The security officer will see either a green image of a person alongside the actual image of the individual, or a color-indicator bar overlay.

The tests are being carried out at New York Penn Station. One device is mounted on a tripod while the other is contained in a trunk. The equipment is mobile, which allows agencies to move it to different stations.

Similar detection devices were tested last year by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Pittsburgh to Allow Access to the Non-Ticketed

August 31, 2017

Non-ticketed passengers are being allowed limited access to the secure, airside area of Pittsburgh International Airport starting Sept. 5.

PIT will become the first airport in the United States since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to allow such access.

The access will be available Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

To gain access, non-ticketed passengers must check in by showing a valid photo ID and be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration against its “no-fly” list.

Those approved will be given a stamped myPITpass and must go through the security checkpoint in the same manner as a ticketed passenger.

“This program is the first of its kind in the US and there are currently no plans to expand it to other airports at this time,” TSA spokesperson Mike England said. “TSA did not need to hire additional personnel to accommodate this program and we have all the staff we need at PIT to handle the additional influx of people. TSA also does not anticipate that there will be any impact on checkpoint wait times.”

Pittsburgh International has allowed non-ticketed passengers access to its post-security retail area in the past. It has held a one-day “open house” during the past several years.

Terrorist Groups Said to Be Eyeing Amtrak Routes

August 21, 2017

Amtrak’s Empire Builder and Lake Shore Limited might be targeted by terrorist groups the Transportation Security Administration has warned.

The TSA told mass transit agencies, freight, and passenger rail lines to be vigilant in the wake of a propaganda video released by the terrorist group Al Qaeda.

TSA said there are no known plots against transportation operations in the United States, but that the terrorist group has listed dozens of rail routes that it considered to be vulnerable.

Many of those routes serve Chicago Union Station. Al Qaeda listed the Chicago-New York Lake Shore Limited and the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder.

“The Al-Qaeda video is an important reminder that mass transit, passenger-rail, and freight-rail operations are a potential target for terrorist activity,” TSA officials said.

The federal agency said employees should keep a close watch on their environments and to exercise caution with equipment and materials that could be used to obstruct or derail trains.

Transportation officials has indicated that airport-style screening systems are unlikely to become common in rail transportation, including mass transit lines, but testing is being conducted of systems that would enhance existing security measures.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Los Angeles conducted a test run of new technology designed to scan passengers to detect firearms or explosive vests.

“While we’ll never become a fully secured environment like you’d have in the airport, we do want to find a way to more effectively screen passengers,” Metro security executive Alex Wiggins said. “We are trying to stay ahead of the threat.”

One reason why airport security measure have not been implemented for rail passengers is because they cannot process transit and intercity rail passengers fast enough.

The technology being tested in Los Angeles can scan up to 600 passengers per hour. Riders are not required to remove their shoes or take out laptops, keys and phones from their bags.

The scanners cost about $60,000 each and 20 would be needed for Union Station alone.

Security Focus Remains on Aviation

October 4, 2016

The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said his agency’s focus continues to be on battling terrorist threats to aviation even though some lawmakers are calling for an increase in security for passenger railroads.

homeland-securityJeh Johnson testified before the Senate Commerce Committee that although Homeland Security is considering assigning more resources to railroad stations, local police forces are backing up the TSA presence there.

He said aviation continues to be Homeland Security’s primary focus because of the high number of threat streams seen there.

“I continue to be concerned about aviation and airport security. And I believe that needs to be TSA’s principal focus,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s testimony came in the wake of an effort by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators to push the Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act, which would mandate that the Transportation Security Administration, a sub-department of Homeland Security, develop risk-based strategies in all modes of transportation.

The bill directs TSA to conduct risk analyses on all modes and for the Government Accountability Office to study best security practices for security on Amtrak, and on passenger rail and mass transit operations in foreign countries.

Under the proposed legislation, Amtrak would be authorized to use TSA’s Secure Flight Program to screen rail passengers.

Amtrak and the freight railroads would have representation on a new surface transportation advisory committee.

Akron-Canton, Youngstown-Warren Airports Will Screen Private Planes Bound for Cleveland During RNC Convention

July 8, 2016

If own your own plane and plan to fly to Cleveland during the Republican National Convention your first stop may be in Akron or Youngstown.

The Federal Aviation Administration has decreed that the skies over Cleveland will be restricted airspace and private planes must stop at Akron-Canton Airport or Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport for security screening before being allowed to land at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport or Burke Lakefront Airport.

Akron-Canton AirportOfficials expect about 750 private and charter flights to bring delegates, VIPs and visitors to Cleveland during the convention, which runs from July 18-21.

The FAA said the restrictions for Cleveland during that time will be similar to those imposed at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Planes that depart from one of the 160 airports in the U.S. that can provide security clearance before takeoff will be permitted to fly to Hopkins or Burke airports.

But flights originating elsewhere must be inspected at Akron-Canton or Youngstown-Warren airports.

The security procedure involves identification checks, physical screening of passengers and crew, and aircraft inspections.

Eric Berg of Avflight at Akron-Canton Airport expects a stream of planes to be touching down during the convention.

In some instances, passengers landing at Akron-Canton or Youngstown-Warren will park their plane there and drive to Cleveland.

The Transportation Security Administration will provide the security checks and plane owners must make an appointment.

Officials said that Akron-Canton and Youngstown-Warren were selected as security checkpoint gateways because of their expansive ramp space for parking aircraft, particularly in cases in which passengers will finish their journey by highway.

Hotels near the Akron-Canton and Youngstown-Warren airports  also expect to cash in on that business because rooms in Cleveland are sold out.

During the convention, planes towing banners will not be permitted in the skies over Cleveland and some other flight activities will be prohibited.

The restrictions will be enforced between July 17-23 and include a 30-nautical mile radius or about 34.5 miles on the ground from Quicken Loans Arena where the convention is being held.

Within an “inner ring” of either 3 nautical miles or 10 nautical miles of the Q, depending on the specific time, all flights will be prohibited except for:

■ Scheduled commercial flights operating under standard procedure.

■ Law-enforcement and Department of Defense operations.

■ Air ambulances.

■ Flights headed to or from Hopkins International or Burke Lakefront airports that have been cleared by the Transportation Security Administration.

In the “outer ring,” meaning the rest of the 30 nautical mile radius, aircraft must have a filed flight plan and maintain radio communication with air-traffic controllers.

Planes operating in that zone must be flying to or from airports within the zone, although “work load permitting,” controllers may allow transits.

Model aircraft, drones and model rocketry will all be prohibited throughout the entire restricted airspace, as will be crop dusting, hang gliding or balloon flights.