Tight security produces seven flight security incidents in one day
Amid new anxiety about air travel and tough new regulations covering what passengers may bring on planes, seven U.S. flights were involved in security incidents last Friday. In one case, a stick of dynamite was found to have been aboard a flight.
The rash of events, safety consultants and others say, reflect heightened emotions and appropriately tightened security in the wake of an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners thwarted this month by British authorities, The Chicago Tribune reports.
“I think it’s a combination of both,” Douglas Laird, a Reno-based consultant to the airline industry and former longtime security director for Northwest Airlines, told the newspaper. “I think there is a heightened awareness of what happened in London, and that causes some people to overreact.”
In what may have been Friday’s most serious incident, authorities said a college student’s checked luggage on a Continental Airlines flight from Argentina was found to contain a stick of dynamite after it landed in Houston en route to Newark International Airport.
A bomb-sniffing dog at the international arrivals area at Bush Intercontinental Airport detected an explosive substance in a suitcase belonging to a man who told Houston authorities he works in mining and often handles explosives. The man, Howard McFarland Fish, 21, was charged with carrying an explosive aboard an aircraft. His actions were determined not to be terrorism-related, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.
Also on Friday, a Charlotte-bound U.S. Airways jet that had taken off from Phoenix made a forced landing in Oklahoma City after a federal air marshal reportedly subdued an unruly passenger. Authorities declined to give details pending an investigation.
Ann Davis, a Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman in Boston, acknowledged the security measures have raised the anxiety level and inconvenience of air travel.
Here is a look at each of Friday’s airline-security events:
* American Airlines plane flying from England to Chicago diverted to Bangor, Maine;
* United Airlines flight from O’Hare International Airport headed to New York delayed when authorities removed two passengers after the plane had left the gate;
* Stick of dynamite found in luggage on Continental Airlines plane from Argentina that landed in Houston; 21-year-old man in custody;
* US Airways jet diverted to Oklahoma City after air marshal subdued a disruptive passenger;
* Continental flight diverted to El Paso, Texas, after crew found missing panel in lavatory;
* Knife found on US Airways plane that had flown from Philadelphia to Connecticut;
* Aer Lingus plane from New York to Dublin evacuated during a scheduled stopover in Shannon, Ireland, after bomb threat later declared unfounded.
Check out continuing coverage of the alleged terrorist plot against the airlines at the Web site for our sister magazine, GOVERNMENT SECURITY, at www.govtsecurity.com