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Tag: airplane

TSA Failures Undermine Passenger Safety on Airplanes

By Steve Neavling

From missing weapons carried onto commercial aircraft by travelers to poor vetting and training of airport screeners, the TSA is failing in its mission “in many ways” to keep flyers safe, argues The Hill opinion contributor Martin Schwartz.

For one, the Homeland Security Inspector General found that TSA missed 95% of weapons carried onto airplanes by undercover investigators.

Since the agency is failing to prevent many travelers from carrying forbidden items onto airplanes, the TSA announced it plans to increase highly intrusive personal frisks of passengers.

The TSA also has failed to fully deploy the nearly foolproof full-body scanners.

The agency’s high-level supervisors also have been fired for poor performance, which trickles down to the rank and file.

This comes at a time when a record number of travelers are caught with weapons, especially firearms.

“For an agency that must deal with the public every day at transit facilities, and that has existed for well over a decade, this is an inexcusable record of failure,” Schwartz wrote. “It strongly suggests that the TSA should be abolished, with its duties turned over to well-trained airline, ship or railroad personnel working under the direct supervision of specialized law enforcement professionals, namely officers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).”

FBI Investigates Pair for Alleged Sex Act on Delta Airlines Flight to Detroit

Detroit Metro Airport

Detroit Metro Airport

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is investigating a couple of strangers who were caught engaging in a sex act while in their seats on Delta Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Detroit.

WDIV-TV reports a 48-year-old woman was performing oral sex on a 28-year-old man, prompting complainants from passengers.

But charging the pair may be tough.

“It’s going to be very hard to find that this is criminal conduct under the federal code because it’s not a threat to the safety of the airline or other passengers,” said Peter Henning, now a Wayne State University law professor.

“It’s certainly distasteful, but it was not disruptive or interfering with the operation of the plane — and that’s typically what (airline incident) charges involve,” he said. “The embarrassment is probably the biggest punishment they can receive.”

The FBI took over the case from airport police after the plane landed. The pair was taken into custody.

FBI Accepts New Evidence in Cold Case of Hijacker D.B. Cooper

FBI sketch of D.B. Cooper

FBI sketch of D.B. Cooper

By Steve Neavling

A day before Thanksgiving in 1971, a man only known to authorities as D.B. Cooper jumped out of a hijacked airplane with $200,000 and parachuted into the night.

After spending 45 years searching for the suspect, the FBI last year announced it had stopped actively pursuing the case.

That may change after a team of private investigators coordinated by a filmmaker found “an odd piece of buried foam” that they believe may be material from Cooper’s parachute backpack, the New York Daily News reports. Just weeks earlier, the team found what they think are remnants of Cooper’s parachute strap. 

The FBI said it received three other “unknown” fabric samples.

The discoveries were made by a team assembled by Thomas Colbert, a former media executive and police trainer. Former FBI supervisor Hadley McCann is overseeing the cold case team.

Colbert runs a website,, that is dedicated to the cold case.

FBI Arrests Woman Accused of Setting Fire to Blankets During Flight

JetBy Steve Neavling

The FBI arrested a woman who set fire to two blankets while aboard a Puerto Rico-bound flight from New York City’s John F. Kennedy.

According to the statement by the FBI, passenger Idializ Gomez was a passenger on a JetBlue aircraft when she “utilized a lighter to ignite and successfully damage two blankets and a portion of the in-flight control panel of the seat next to hers.”

Gomez boarded the plane at 12:43 a.m. and was arrested at 4:21 a.m. Tuesday, when the aircraft landed in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Gomez was charged with destruction of an aircraft and aircraft facilities.

It’s unclear what prompted Gomez to allegedly ignite the blankets with a lighter. The FBI continues to investigate.

FBI: Flight Attendant Set Fire in Airplane Bathroom, Then Played Hero by Extinguishing Flames

american airlines logoBy Steve Neavling

An American Airlines flight attendant is accused of setting an airplane bathroom on fire, forcing an emergency landing in Detroit.

Authorities said Jonathan Tafoya-Montano pretended to discover the flames, which he then extinguished, the Washington Post reports. 

The incident occurred on a Feb. 1 flight from Dallas to Detroit.

Investigators are trying to determine a motive.

The FBI and Wayne County Airport Authority Police Department are investigating.

TSA Shocked After Discovering Children with Grenade, Hatchet at Florida Airports

Recovered objects/TSA

Recovered objects/TSA

By Steve Neavling

It would have been a shocking discovery no matter who was found trying to carry the potential weapons onto airplanes at two Florida airports.

But the TSA was especially surprised when they found a 12-year-old with a grenade inside a carry-on at Jacksonville International Airport earlier this week, Bay News 9 reports. 

Then on Wednesday, security found a 16-year-old with a hatchet at Orlando International Airport.

“Hatchets, knives, grenades and guns are not permitted in your carry-on bags,” said TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz.

Authorities later determined that the grenade was “inert and not dangerous,” Bay News 9 wrote.

Other Stories of Interest

Texas Man Accused of Lying to FBI about Joining ISIS

By Steve Neavling

A Texas man has been arrested after lying to the FBI about his allegiance to ISIS, according to a criminal complaint.

NBC DFW reports that Bilal Abood, 37, of Mesquite, faces up to eight years in prison for making a false statement to the FBI.

A licensed security guard, Abood was born in Iraq and moved to the U.S. in 2009, becoming a naturalized American citizen.

Abood was captured while trying to travel from D/FW International Airport, where he told officials he was going to visit family. The FBI said he was actually going to fight for ISIS.

The complaint alleges that Abood admitted planning to go to Syria to fight with the Free Syrian Army.

FBI Pulls Cybersecurity Expert from Plane After Blowing Whistle on Vulnerabilities

By Steve Neavling

A cybersecurity expert who recently exposed vulnerabilities in airplane technology systems is now a target of the FBI, Fox News reports.

Chris Roberts, of the Colorado-based security firm One World Labs, said two FBI agents and two uniformed cops removed him from a commercial flight after landing in Syracuse on Wednesday night.

The investigation came just hours after Fox News aired an interview with Roberts in which he said the cyberhacking of planes is possible.

“We can still take planes out of the sky thanks to the flaws in the in-flight entertainment systems. Quite simply put, we can theorize on how to turn the engines off at 35,000 feet and not have any of those damn flashing lights go off in the cockpit.”

Roberts said he thought he was doing the government a favor.

“You have one element in the FBI reaching out to people like me for help, but another element doing a hell of a job burning those bridges,” Roberts said. “Those of us who do threat research are doing it for the right reasons, and we work to build relationships with the intelligence community because we want to help them identify weaknesses before they become a problem.”

The FBI confiscated computer files and electronic devices, Fox News reported.

The FBI declined to comment.