Airplane Passenger Screening Fails
From http://www.gao.gov/archive/2000/rc00075.pdf (June 2000)
In 1978, screeners failed to detect 13 percent of the objects during compliance tests, and in 1987, screeners were missing 20 percent of the objects during the same type of test. Since 1997, FAA has designated data on test results as sensitive security information.
http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d011162t.pdf (September 2001)
... in one series of tests, the Inspector General’s staff
successfully gained access to secure areas 68 percent of the time.
http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d031173.pdf (September 2003)
FAA tests conducted between 1991 and 1999 showed that screeners’ ability to detect objects was not improving, and in some cases was worsening.
http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04285t.pdf (November 2003)
Our recent work on passenger screening found that little
testing or other data exist that measure the performance of screeners in
detecting threat objects.
There is even a new threat that our screeners aren't even being tested on (February 2004):
So... we are spending $1.8 billion on an activity whose performance is "little tested" and in the past has been "unsatisfactory". In fact the results are so unsatisfactory they are classified. However we are assured that significantly more than 20 percent of the dangerous objects make it past airport screeners if the person is deliberately trying to deceive them. If my tests (done with the permission of the security guard) are any indication the likelihood of deliberately getting a firearm past the screeners is very close to 100%. Furthermore the people we are trying to defend against have come up with another means to bypass security.
What about the thousands of dangerous objects being detected every year during passenger screening? Nearly all of those are innocent mistakes, not deliberate attempts to breach security.
Last update: Tuesday December 07, 2004