Records show series of lapses in security

Monday, November 12, 2001

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Federal security tests at Kansas City International Airport in the 1990s showed hundreds of security lapses and even more violations leading to fines of $418,000, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Undercover federal agents got fake weapons past security screeners and were able to sneak into off-limits areas at the airport, according to The Kansas City Star's analysis of Federal Aviation Administration records from that decade.

The paper found that during the 1990s the FAA reported 256 cases of airline security lapses at KCI, the 16th most cases among the nation's airports.

KCI is the nation's 35th-busiest airport.

The FAA's cases against KCI airlines and the airport involved a total of 457 security violations -- or almost one per week.

Airlines' screening lapses at KCI resulted in the FAA proposing a total of $418,000 in fines against the airlines. That was the 18th-highest amount proposed at the nation's airports.

The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said these cases show that "serious weaknesses exist" in security at KCI, The Star reported.

The FAA's records from this year are not yet available, and the records do not indicate the efficiency of an airport's security because they do not show how many tests the FAA conducted.

"Even though we've been hit several times by the FAA, I think we're one of the more secure airports in the country," said Kansas City Councilwoman Teresa Loar, who is chairwoman of the council's Aviation Committee and is on the board of Airports Council International, an airport association.

'In very good shape'

Alfred Lomax, KCI's police chief and chairman of the Airports Council International's safety committee, added: "Having heard how other airports operate, this airport is in very good shape."

Airlines are responsible for screening passengers and overseeing the private companies they hire to do it. Airports, meanwhile, are responsible for keeping the facilities secure.

The most frequent problem at KCI during the 1990s, records show, was in passenger screening, as screeners often were hired without proper background checks.

On Nov. 2, the FAA made passengers at KCI go through a Vanguard Airlines security checkpoint a second time because one screener had not been properly trained and supervised.

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