268 perimeter breaches at US airports since 2004, says investigation

9 April 2015 (Last Updated April 9th, 2015 18:30)

Major US airports have recorded close to 268 perimeter breaches since 2004, with San Francisco Airport reporting the maximum number of incidences, according to an investigation by the Associated Press (AP).

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Major US airports have recorded close to 268 perimeter breaches since 2004, with San Francisco Airport reporting the maximum number of incidences, according to an investigation by the Associated Press (AP).

AP's report was prompted by a security breach last year, when 15-year-old Yahya Abdi climbed a fence at Mineta San Jose International Airport, entered a jet's wheel well and survived an almost six-hour flight to Hawaii. He was attempting to go to Africa to see his mother.

The news agency said that the number is an undercount as two of the 31 airports surveyed did not have data for all of the years.

The investigation listed at least 44 incidents when intruders could have accessed runways, taxiways or gate areas where planes are parked for refueling and where passengers disembark. There were seven cases where intruders could have gotten into jets.

"Most of the reports involved people who were attempting to take shortcuts, inebriated, disoriented, drunk or mentally unstable."

Seven international airports in four states accounted for more than half the breaches. San Francisco was reported to have 37 incidents followed by airports in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Jose, Miami and Tampa.

None of the incidents were linked to terrorist activity and most of the reports involved people who were attempting to take shortcuts, inebriated, disoriented, drunk or mentally unstable, but seemingly harmless. Several ocurrences involved people with knives and one with a loaded handgun.

According to regulations, airports are responsible for securing perimeters and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inspects their security plans, conducts spot checks and can levy penalties.

TSA revealed that between 2010 and 2014, it issued $277,155 of fines for almost 136 breaches, added the agency.


Image: Thirty one US airports reported 268 perimeter breaches since 2004. Photo: courtesy of foto76/freedigitalphotos.net.