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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 30, 2014 at 7:04 PM

Airplane stowaway: A major security breach

The stories reporting the saga of the teenage stowaway in the wheel well of a Hawaii-bound jetliner are both compelling and tragic [“Stowaway on jet said to be homesick for Africa,” Travel/Outdoors, April 23].

Compelling for his daring “adventure” and miraculous survival. And tragic that it could have happened in the first place given the enormous sums of money and staffing the TSA has invested in airport security. As has been admitted — and proven in this incident — it is still relatively easy to gain access to secure airport property and even aircraft through the “backdoor.” This remains a serious weakness in the system that needs to be corrected.

There is evidently a second tier of aircraft security that also appears to have failed. It is presumed the boy climbed into the wheel well long before the aircraft departed. It is a customary aviation policy if not a requirement for a member of the aircrew — the pilot or first officer — to personally perform a walkaround external inspection to visually determine that everything appears OK on the aircraft before departure.

It is interesting that there has been no published statement from the airline or the crew whether or when this customary inspection occurred, and if so, how the presence of the stowaway was overlooked.

Bruce Elliot, La Conner

Comments | More in aviation | Topics: airplanes, Bruce Elliot, security

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