Sea-Tac Airport Boosts Security Following Plane Theft

Sea-Tac Airport Boosts Security Following Plane Theft

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is reviewing and increasing security measures after a ground-service agent stole a plane and crashed it into a south Puget Sound island on Friday. According to an airport spokesman, the agent was one of about 13,600 people with access to aircraft at the airport.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is reviewing and increasing security measures after a ground-service agent stole a plane and crashed it into a south Puget Sound island on Friday. According to an airport spokesman, the agent was one of about 13,600 people with access to aircraft at the airport.

On Friday, a Sea-Tac ground-service agent attached a pushback tractor to an empty Q400 turboprop airplane, taxied to a runway, and took off. According to authorities, he crashed about an hour and 10 minutes later on an island in south Puget Sound.

The Port of Seattle, which operates Sea-Tac Airport, had not yet identified any lapses in security that lead to the agent stealing the plane, according to Port of Seattle Commissioner Courtney Gregoire.

“All security protocols were handled appropriately here at the airport,” she said.

According to Gregoire, airport employees undergo federal background checks that go back 10 years. Sea-Tac also added physical screenings in May for workers who access secure areas, which require a badge, a metal detector walkthrough, and a biometric screening.

Sea-Tac spokesman Perry Cooper said that workers are denied access to areas of that airport they don’t frequent. He said about 24,000 airport employees have security badges in the summer season, and of those, 13,600 “would be badged for access to aircraft in various places.”

The employee who stole the aircraft was among about 11,400 people with credentials to access the “airport operations area,” which includes the ramp area, gate area, and many hangers, but does not contain runways or taxiways.

According to Gregoire, the Port has increased security at Sea-Tac Airport, including more checks by police and security staff in the cargo area.

"We do have additional security presence at our cargo locations," she said. "We have stepped up security presence throughout the airport."

On Monday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell called for an examination of airport security protocols in light of the Sea-Tac incident.

"The fact that this incident occurred at Sea-Tac, which is one of the few large airports in the country to require full screening for all employees who work in the sterile area, shows that we need to continually adapt security measures to meet new threats,” Cantwell said.

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.

If you like what you see, get more delivered to your inbox weekly.
Click here to subscribe to our free premium content.

comments powered by Disqus

Digital Edition

  • Security Today Magazine - September 2018

    September 2018

    Featuring:

    • Cash in Transit
    • Processing Security
    • Bigger is Getting Better
    • Growing Adoption
    • Seeing the Potential

    View This Issue

  • Environmental Protection
  • Occupational Health & Safety
  • Infrastructure Solutions Group
  • School Planning & Managmenet
  • College Planning & Management
  • Campus Security & Life Safety