View Full Version : Major breach of security at LGW !!

Devils Advocate
9th Mar 2003, 07:14
As reported by the UK tabloid 'The News of the World':

On the eve of war our reporter exposes frightening loophole in airport security



A News of the World investigator has boarded a holiday jet armed with a machine gun and a pistol to expose a terrifying hole in the security at Gatwick airport.

Our reporter, who could easily have been an al-Qaeda terrorist, was smuggled past gate guards as he hid in the back of a catering lorry which was supplying in-flight meals.

Along with the driver, who helped us because he too was amazed at security lapses, our man was able to board a 200-seater Monarch airlines plane and get into the cockpit.

And the two men acted out plans for THREE separate devastating attacks that, if real, could have led to the deaths of thousands of people.


On this occasion the guns were only replicas—but at a time when airports should be on high alert, with Britain on the brink of war with Iraq, our investigation makes chilling reading.

The undercover mission reveals a catalogue of missing or lax security checks—from firms who supply pre-packed inflight meals to airport staff responsible for checking planes before take-off.

Our men could have:

PLACED a Semtex bomb in a meal tray.

FIRED at close range at packed planes preparing for take-off.

HELPED re-enact the atrocities of September 11, leaving guns hidden aboard the jet for accomplice hijackers. Gatwick— which handles 31 million passengers a year—is only a few minutes flight from London's skyscrapers.

The driver of our truck who goes in and out of the airport every day believes our attack plans would have worked.

He said: "I contacted you because I am so scared by the state of security here I won't let my family get on a plane."

The trail of terror began at 9pm on Thursday at a depot at Manor Royal industrial park a short drive from Gatwick where the pre-packed meals and drinks are put on 7.5 tonne trucks.

The drivers are supposed to lock a plastic security seal on the back door when loading is finished to show the contents are secure. Our driver left the seal unlocked and no one checked the truck as he drove out of the gates.

"Every day hundreds of trucks pile in and out of Gatwick to service the planes and nobody knows what is inside them," he explained.

"I load up at the factory alone. I can put anything you like in the truck."

Ten minutes after leaving the depot he picked up our armed man in a side street on the Forge Wood industrial estate close to the North Terminal.

There was easily enough room for him to get into the back next to ten airline trolleys packed with food. The driver then locked the seal. At 9.35pm they pulled up before security barriers at the Queens Gate entrance to the airport.

The driver had told our investigator: "This is a risky part of the trip. You mustn't move or make a sound or they will be into the truck in a second."

The driver was made to enter the gatehouse, pass through a metal detector and undergo a personal search before being cleared for entry.


Our gunman stayed silent as he heard the guards then quickly examine the security tabs on the outside of the tailgate. Then the engine spluttered into life and the two were through.

From Queen's Gate the truck headed for the North Terminal passing through a secure cargo and freight area.

The driver lifted the tailgate and he and our gunman were lose among the parked aircraft. The 200-seat Monarch aircraft—registration G-MONK— stood unattended at stand 144 with its cabin lights blazing.

It was one of four big jets—including a British Airways Boeing 777 and aircraft belonging to Air 2000 and charter line JMC—they could have accessed.

A passenger stairway led up to the Monarch jet's open main door.

Our men, with guns concealed under their jackets, explored the flight deck and sat in the captain's chair examining the dials and controls.

With no security guards in sight they took on-board pictures with their weapons, assembling a replica M16 machine gun which, if real, would be capable of firing 600 bullets a minute and a Colt M1911 .45 calibre pistol.

They looked for a place to hide the handgun for a terrorist passenger to retrieve later. The seat pockets seemed ideal.

Tucked behind the in-flight magazines, the gun would not be seen by cabin crew on their pre-flight visual checks.

The pistol could also have been hidden in any of the toilets which had already been serviced. By removing the waste bin our men found it possible to tape the weapon to the underside of the sink unit and replace the bin.

Then they examined the trays of food which they could have easily poisoned.

The trays are also an ideal size for a small bomb—as a pilot of 20 years experience who flies in and out of Gatwick every week explained later.

"I know the luggage on the plane has been scanned but I have no idea what is in the food containers which are loaded onto my aeroplane," said the pilot, who did not want to be named.

"It would be easy to fill a food container with plastic explosive and a thermal switch so the explosive was detonated as soon as the food is heated up after take-off."

When our "terrorists" left the plane they wandered unchallenged to a taxiing runway where, fingers on the triggers of the guns beneath their coats, they watched jets packed with tourists thunder by.

There were no guards around to stop them—making a mockery of repeated government claims that airport security has been tightened since the September 11 attacks.

In a recent House of Commons debate, Home Secretary David Blunkett said: "I would certainly assure everyone that it is safe to use our airports and that they should not be fearful of doing so, precisely because the measures have been put in place and the security has been provided to ensure that they can go about their business free from fear."

Our investigator and his accomplice drove away from the airport at 10.45pm. There was no security check on the way out.

The driver said: "We've shown what can be done. I want something done about the situation. What if I was being bribed or blackmailed by a terrorist group to hide real weapons or terrorists on the aircraft?"


The pilot who contacted us pointed out another area that al-Qaeda could infiltrate—the inflight meal packers themselves. He said he and other airline staff were concerned that no security checks were made on them.

"The food is prepared by low paid workers, mostly immigrants and are not checked at all," he said.

"Once the cases full of food are completed and sealed they are not checked. Planting a bomb in a meal tray would be easy."

9th Mar 2003, 07:21
And I hope they prosecute this journalist for this stupid act

Fosters Expat
9th Mar 2003, 07:35

Whilst I agree that the journalist has acted irresponsibly, he has now uncovered a lapse in airport security that has existed for over ten years.

I brought this to the attention of a regional airports Security Manager almost ten years ago, and still at that airport, this exact thing can happen. The DOT must either think that potential terrorists are completely stupid, or maybe it is they that have been reckless in the standards applied for the transportation of catering between production facility and aircraft side.

I trust that the airlines will make their voices heard, and get something done about this!

Back To The Bunker!

9th Mar 2003, 07:40
Tanks and armed soldiers at LHR are a waste of time in the face of these security lapses.
But. Until the airlines (and their employees also) insist that these loopholes are dealt with, the travelling public, who pay for it all directly or indirectly, will not be safe.
Commercial interest seems to overide the lipservice currently paid to full, and consistent security.

Hand Solo
9th Mar 2003, 08:48
Nobody seems to be picking up on the fact that the driver actively conspired with the journo to smuggle him into the airport. Of course its going to be easy. I've no doubt the truck is checked as it leaves the catering depot and is assumed to be sealed when it reaches the security gate. If the truck stops somewhere and somebody gets in the back its up to the driver to report it. He has a responsibility for security as well. If the truck driver is a terrorist plant then why bother having a man with a machine gun at all, the caterer is just as capable of planting a bomb on the aircraft. I hope the driver gets the sack immediately.

9th Mar 2003, 09:04
Hand Solo says:
the caterer is just as capable of planting a bomb on the aircraft.

I guess he is right - so what level of in-house security SHOULD the airlines be furnishing to monitor all non-airline personnel on the aircraft in order to protect their passengers and crews?

9th Mar 2003, 10:22
Point 1: The driver must be sacked and made to pay at least the amount he received from the News of the World in payment.

Point 2: The Journalist, and his newspaper that sanctioned his actions, must be prosecuted.

Point 3: At my company, and I guess most (all) others, a crew arriving at a cold aircraft are required to conduct and sign for a full search before boarding commences. Therefore these items would probably have been discovered before any flight.

Point 4: The only way we can achieve 100% security in aviation is to stop flying now!

9th Mar 2003, 10:41
Hopefully the idiot will get prosecuted for flouting the laws like that.

..but hey, as long as the security peeps continue confiscating old ladies nailclippers, I, for one, will feel safe.

View From The Ground
9th Mar 2003, 11:12
LR Driver is right, no doubt this will lead to yet more tightening of security with the motive being CYA as oppose to making airports more secure. All the effort they are putting in to five year ID referencing blown away by this simple ruse.

Let's face it airlines and airports have to OPERATE, as stated by a previous post we can never be 100% safe.

Wonder what would have happened had the reporter been found and quite understandably shot by armed police as he touted his fake weaponry......how we would have laughed......oooops I mean mourned!!!!

9th Mar 2003, 12:30
Don't condemn this journo. You're all missing the point.
If the excessive security that is applied to cockpit/cabin crew members was 're-deployed' to the REAL risk areas this would not have happened.

They'll take away my nail file and jail me if I complain, meanwhile dodgy types can walk on my aircraft carrying who knows what.

9th Mar 2003, 12:52
I do not agree with the correspondants who suggest the journalist should be prosecuted. He has merely brought this lapse of security to the attention of those who should be responsible for maintaining it.

Had the journalist suggested that such a method could be employed to gain entry to a parked airplane, I feel sure he would have been ridiculed, and i doubt he would have been given the opportunity to demonstrate the lack of sucurity. There4 is now no doubt that some remedial action will take place, action that would not have been taken had the journalist exposed the situation. The fact that he added to the circulation of his newspaper while doing so is of no consequence.

As for the correspondant who suggested that his or her company pilots and crew are responsible for searching the airplane prior to accepting it, I do not believe that they would have uncovered the arms if hidden as suggested by the journalist.

9th Mar 2003, 12:55
Did not some members of the Hamburg Al Qaeda cell not work at the Hamburg Airport?

The security lapse is considerable and I hope the article serves to secure this breach.

With the details given it shouldn't be too difficult to trace the culprit!

So, our thanks for your help and here's a summons!

9th Mar 2003, 13:09
Yet again , another nail in the industry,s coffin. Do we need these tabloid scoops. if,s but,s and maybe,s . A wannabe driver who want,s to have his 15 minutes of fame. And the news of the world giving any nutter a A to Z of attacking / interfering with airline operations , scare mongering.Most of us know what needs doing on the security aspect, the only obstacle being the CAA/BAA/and a lot of the Airlines not following basic affordable measures that they say are due to lack of funding. Passengers and Crew and ground staff deserve the best that we can do to ensure safe Air travel .

Haul By Cable
9th Mar 2003, 14:12
I, too, think that people whose immediate reaction is to call for the driver and journalist to be prosecuted, are completely missing the point.

If a civilian jounalist can carry out this kind of operation, then a ruthless terrorist would have no difficulty at all.

Despite the fact that these guys profited financially, they have done us a service by highlighting the fact that the security agencies are focussing their efforts in the wrong areas.

I personally have gained no comfort whatsoever from the supposed 'heightened security' as I get the impression that most of it is purely for show - and focussed around the passengers, who can see it.

I hope that as a result of the embarrassment caused by this tabloid article and others like it, the government will do something effective to improve security at our airports.

I think that these tabloid activities hit the authorities in the right way, as I have never been deluded in to believing that they actually have a concience, or a conviction to 'do the right thing'. They mostly only respond to political embarrassment or the threat of losing money.

9th Mar 2003, 14:33
At my company every seat pocket, bin, locker and loo is checked before and after each flight, with an enhanced security check on a cold aircraft of hatches and holds as well as flight deck stowages. These weapons, considering their size, would have been found easily (a gun behind the magazines----since 9/11 not a chance!).

It is not for journalists, or caterers, to openly flout the law in search of a good story. It is indefensible. If such actions were to be condoned imagine the havoc that would be reaped on our industry as every Tom, Dick and Harry had a go to try and get their name in lights with prosecution immunity.

They should take their concerns to the DETR, explaining their proposed method and leave them to set up a controlled test. Such tests have taken place within the last couple of years at many airports - and some have failed spectacularly!

Anyone who thinks this team carried out their 'mission' for anything other than a one-off headline is seriously mis-guided!

9th Mar 2003, 14:40
so, are we suprised?? what crewmember out there, who flies on a regular basis, from every major airport did not already know this????!!!
I certainly notice, on a pretty much daily basis, situations where this can occur, from catering, to maint. to just about every support service, there is plenty of opportunity, so why do so many act amazed, and call for "prosecution" of the guys that just point it out!!
Maybe it takes something like this to wake people up, because nothing else seems to change the system.
I am quite happy to see that they exposed this in a spectacular fashion, not that it will change anything, there will be all kinds of lip service paid to it, but in a week nothing will have changed.
I have to say, though, that calling for the journo and the driver to be punished is a silly request, in fact that sounds like a typical govt reaction to a problem, " do not address the actual problem, but punish the fellow that exposes it!" that type of attitude and reaction merely will send the message, " if you see something wrong, keep quiet"
I think the underlying frustration here, is that no matter how much we as crew, and the public in general would like to ensure that we, and they are completely safe, and there are no voids in security, it is not possible, completely eliminating the possibility of anything or anyone undesireable getting on an aircraft is just not a reality, and there is no point in fooling ourselves into thinking it can be.

B Sousa
9th Mar 2003, 14:41
Yes, another example of the Fox guarding the Henhouse. Also another example of those who wish to do harm can, and the rest of us just get searched all the time.
If the journalist is Prosecuted Im sure it will be for no other reason than some Security Exec got totally embarrassed..
Putting Bombs in Food trays in not what the upcoming events in Iraq are all about. Its what other items can they put in the food.
Im very surprised that caterers and other ground folks have not been "screened" as to their backrounds. I know here in the states that initially there was a big scramble to weed out the ex-felons and illegals. It seems now since they have done that all we have left are the TSA folks, formerly unemployable with Federal jobs for life.

White Knight
9th Mar 2003, 14:58
Absolutely - it's all for show.....and they make a point specially of checking aircrew in front of all the pax. It's a complete load of bo**cks. David Blunkett hasn't got a clue - can't see the wood for the trees (no pun intended).
It would be VERY EASY for any terrorist to commit their acts of terror on UK soil.

Haul By Cable
9th Mar 2003, 15:18
"It is not for journalists, or caterers, to openly flout the law in search of a good story. It is indefensible. If such actions were to be condoned imagine the havoc that would be reaped on our industry as every Tom, Dick and Harry had a go to try and get their name in lights with prosecution immunity"
... and imagine how tight the the security would be as a result of all the security execs trying to prevent the journos having the opportunity to get material for a story in the first place.

I don't condone people trying to get their names in lights, but I'm not sure that this was the aim of their exercise?

9th Mar 2003, 15:18
Regards crew W K, correct!! but what exactly do they think that proves? you mention it may be a show for the pax, but what could the thinking be behind that? "are the pax.thinking, the crew are a potential hazard to me? so glad to see extra screening of them"
I have pondered this one alot, as of course I am subject to the extra scrutiny so often, and I just cannot figure out why they have taken such a aggresive attitude towards us, and of course while we troop back and forth through the machine doing a segmented striptease, I watch the pax line next door moving quite smoothly??
BUT, I hesitate to question any security method, even stupid ones, as I guess the intent of any method is correct, although usually once it is put into action, the intent seems to be incorrectly applied.

9th Mar 2003, 16:13
Irrespective of WHY this was done the following facts still stand.

The journo was airside without proper authority/security clearance - deal with that appropiately as with any other person airside 'illegally' would be.

The driver is in contravention of the terms which accompany his airside pass issuance - withdraw it immediately and ensure he is prevented from ever holding another.

Consider banning all this company's vehicles and staff from airside until the result of the enquiry and a DETR inspection confirming appropiate security measures are now being followed. Tough on their employees and the airlines involved, but perhaps the company can pursue damages/losses against the driver. And it might stop other idiots doing things like this.

The photos in the 'paper' could have been taken just about anywhere, or by a pax boarding or from over the perimeter fence, which incidently would put you closer to landing/departing aircraft than most of the airside roads would permit.

There are much easier ways of 'attacking' planes and there are loopholes ,(at LGW and other airports), of varying sizes which again would provide easier airside access.

View From The Ground - I also thought exactly the same thing - I wouldn't wish that on any police officer though as I m sure (s)he would be made a scapgoat - especially by the press.

Clear right!
9th Mar 2003, 17:01
Deal with the journo as you will, personally I'd leave him be as he's the only one showing up the gross inadequacies of airport security.

But make sure you throw the book at the person who is repsonsible for the security policy at LGW too and all the other BAA airports. In fact make sure they are done.

There are so many loop holes in security it is a joke.

I used to drive transit vans from landside to airside at another BAA airport in the UK and their security is lamentable. Never once did they open the van to see what was in the bags and kicking about on the floor. They made me go through the metal detector but anything I didn't want them to find could have easily been left in the glove box.

Since the majority of hijacks are inside jobs it makes sense to be tightening these areas. If the reporter has achieved this then fair play to him.

9th Mar 2003, 17:08
Whilst some disagree to this journo being prosecuted, I do not.
He DID breach a major security area.
He DID smuggle weapons into a security area.
He DID bring weapons onto an aircraft
He DID tresspass on airport property.
He DID tresspass in property on the airport, being one aircraft.
He DID coerce an airport employee into aiding and abieting him.

He DID knowingly and willing breach Airport Bylaws, National Laws, Air Navigation Laws and a few more besides as well, please tell me why this person, and his company are not prosecuted to the extent of the law.

He has highlighted a known lapse in airport security, it has always been the responsibilty of the caterer to ensure safety of galley equipment and food onloads, the trucks are sealed from their base of operation until they reach the aircraft. Only a sheet of paper with the seal number on it is checked by security. With this in mind, our cabin crew are renowed for their pre-flight checks of the cabin including the meals and trolley. Many a flight has been delayed for security checks by the crew (and there is no way I would ever ask them to hurry or even interupt).

Can any non-draconian security be 100% breach-proof? The answer has to be no, eventually someone will find a hole.

9th Mar 2003, 17:09
So lets get this straight.....

Our reporter, who could easily have been an al-Qaeda terrorist, was smuggled past gate guards as he hid in the back of a catering lorry which was supplying in-flight meals.

That's right - he was SMUGGLED in airside. Not broke in, or blagged his way in, but Smuggled.

That would suggest to me that he was aided by a bona fide person who was legally there.

Shouldn't the person with a pass who smuggled him in be exposed?

As I undertand it, those vehicles are secured with a numbered security seal at the catering factory. Then this is checked as they leave the catering factory by the security there, and when they get to airside. How can anyone legislate for what is in fact an "inside job"??

9th Mar 2003, 17:12
An yes I agree with Clear Right, the Airport operator and Catering Company need to have their security arrangements addressed, and possibly a fine imposed for a material failure of basic security.
I for one am glad I don't frequent LGW and don't get my lunch from the catering company.

9th Mar 2003, 17:21
It seems to pass everyones attention in the last four postings I have made on security issues that people operating at LHR ,LGW/BAA Airports are allowed to carry a 3 inch religious dagger with a sharpened blade AIRSIDE for RELIGIOUS reasons.

IMHO total cr*p,it should NOT be allowed.

Are you as crew happy with this senario?.....I'm not.


B Sousa
9th Mar 2003, 17:52
nojacketsrequired writes:"LHR ,LGW/BAA Airports are allowed to carry a 3 inch religious dagger with a sharpened blade AIRSIDE for RELIGIOUS reasons. "
This is something to new to a Stateside boy. I find it not hard to believe though in this age of "Cultural Diversity". What are they used for anyway, inflight emergency circumcisions??
Another event that has me up in arms is the situation in Florida where the Muslim women got her picture on her drivers license with a veil.........Yea Right I recognize her......Im sure if I went into DMV with a Bandana over my face I would have more guns pointed at me than they did at the Alamo.
I think someone should start a thread with examples of the idiocy that is now airport routine..

Haul By Cable
9th Mar 2003, 17:53
I'm going to call it a day with this one.

I am baffled as to why so many who have commented on this thread are focussing so much on the journo and the driver being screwed into the ground.

To me, the far more serious 'crime' was committed by the people responsible for our airports' security.

The driver DID smuggle the journo on board. Is it not possible that this could be carried out by a 'sleeper' terrorist quite legally working as a driver?

At the end of the day, the driver and the journo did no harm to any thing or any person. Who knows, perhaps if they have caused enough waves a potential avenue for terrorists to exploit may close and make their job of killing people just that little bit more difficult.

I really do not see what good will come of putting a great amount of effort, aggression and tax-payers money into prosecuting two guys who were successful in exposing this gaping hole in security.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate that rules and laws are there for a reason and that they should be respected, and I can' t say that I have that much love for your average tabloid journo. I just think that we need to pull out and have a look at the bigger picture.

I am sure that there are hundreds of other security loopholes that haven't been publicized. Perhaps in the same way that car manufacturers have ex-cons advising on how they can make their cars more secure, there could be a small group of ex-SAS or whatever going around airports looking for weak spots in procedures around the airport, etc?

As for "3 inch religious daggers with sharpened blades airside" that just beggars belief! We should be screwing the moron that authorized that into the ground!

I shall expect a hail of fiery retorts...


9th Mar 2003, 18:22
This loophole has been around for years.

Airport security is there for 2 reasons. One is to keep the casual criminals off the aircraft with weapons, since you are unlikely to get a weapon past the screening checkpoint. It does happen, but if I were a bad guy bent on taking over an airplane, I would not expect to get a Glock through the checkpoint. It is far easier to get a job on the ramp or as a cleaner and just bring it airside in a lunch bag.

The other reason for airport security is to make the flying public feel safer. This is the reason that pilots are screened. We are easily identifiable, authority figures. When the passengers see us getting the same treatment as they, they assume that security must be tight, if even the pilots get searched. We all know better, and personally, I find the entire situation disgusting.

It's ironic that pilots, who are the only employees that don't need a "weapon" to take over the airplane, are the only group that is required to be screened for "weapons" (I used quotes since I do not consider a screwdriver, leatherman, eyeglass screwdriver or penknives etc., weapons). It's doubly ironic when the reason for flight crew submitting to passenger screening is due to the actions of a customer service representative (not a flight crew member and they STILL don't get screened!).

The entire situation is surreal......

9th Mar 2003, 18:39
Haul By Cable has it spot on IMHO.

Many slate the driver for helping the journo through.

BUT what if some terrorist had an accomplice with loaded weapons pointed at the driver's family back home, and radio comms to ensure 'retribution' should the driver alert security to their presence ?

What would YOU do if you were in that position ? Would you alert security ? Would you do your hardest to protect your family ( OK - so the chances of the terrorists letting you survive once they are onboard are zero, but would you cling to the hope ... ? )

So call for the driver's head if you want ... but he has highlighted just how easy it COULD be !

To me, the far more serious 'crime' was committed by the people responsible for our airports' security.

The one weak link in security will always be the human factor !

9th Mar 2003, 18:41
Security failed.
Call those responsible to account.
Make it safe for the travelling public - those who place their trust in the security at airports.

View From The Ground
9th Mar 2003, 21:33
I am happy to be corrected if I am wrong, but I believe that the Home Seceratary David Blunkett authorised the carrying airside of the Sikh's religious dagger. The same guy who is trying to cover his backside by introducing a lot of ineffective extra security measures which had immeasurably more to the hassle and not much to the security of the environment many of us work in. I have said this a couple of times before I am 100% for effective security just 100% against futile gestures. Sadly I believe that this case will lead to more of the latter.

One thing that this case does highlight is the need for the crew to be trained to a sufficient standard to carry out a thorough cabin inspection.

9th Mar 2003, 22:25
But Ghost Rider he wasn't. He offered his services to the journo to expose this alledged security gap.

If his family were being held you said yourself would he say anything? Probably not - but that's slightly different to voluteering his services.

Had he attempted to express his concerns to his employers, BAA, etc?

Yes I agree the security staff/BAA have the majority responsibilty in preventing security breaches but then don't we all have some responsibilty? After all we are all working or travelling on these aircraft.

As has been said before what has this achieved except to scare the travelling public and sell newspapers? Now if the NOTW had taken it's case to BAA/DETR/the caterers and been fobbed off and no attempt made to change things then maybe they would have been justified in publishing. But they didn't - too boring and not sensationalist enough.

Other security concerns have been brought to the appropiate authorities concerned but things haven't changed - at least not visibly - but neither I nor the reportee(s) would call the press and offer to help them sell papers. Maybe we are wrong?

View From The Ground
9th Mar 2003, 22:41

The link above may be of interest for those who have posted on the kirpin issue.

9th Mar 2003, 23:05
Apologies if what I have to say on this so-called security lapse has already been said,but i couldn't be bothered to read through all the alarmist drivel written by many of the previous posters who obviously do not hold a BAA security pass.
As I understand it,all of us who hold a pass have been security vetted,and are deemed responsible enough to hold it.
This journalist could NOT have gained access without the help of a pass holder.It's not as if he could waltz onto the airfield by himself.
There is only so much the authorities can do.I have a complete tool kit which I carry onto the aircraft all the time to carry out my job.This includes knives,big screwdrivers,hammers etc.I also have access to the internal's of the aircraft at all times,easy to plant a bomb if I wished to do so,but I don't.
There are 1000's of people in the same position as myself.The fact we don't have aircraft being blown-up/hi-jacked every day is surely a testament to the fact that the security vetting of pass holders works.
This incident really should not be given any debate time at all.It is just a tabloid attempt to discredit airport security which is probably as good as it can get.We all know that we could smuggle just about ANYTHING [and I mean that] onto a commercial aircraft if we [a pass holder] wanted to,but the fact remains that the security vetting for pass holders appears to be working.

9th Mar 2003, 23:08
Pilotwolf ... I know he wasn't under duress for this particular event ... and I don't necessarily agree with his actions in going to the press instead of the relevant authorities.

My point though was that if that had have been the case - ie he was under duress, then Houston we would have a problem !

But luckily it wasn't - this time - and it has highlighted yet another lapse in security.

Now just how to close the loop is another thing. 100% security will never happen in a civilian environment. The public won't allow it due to civil-rights infringements, much to the delight of Mr Bin Laden and his followers. :rolleyes: :mad:. Would the crews, ground-staff, public or airlines for that matter accept 100% body/vehicle searches by armed forces or security ? The delays and cost would be massive - but it might at least help to reduce the threat.

Somehow I don't think it will ever happen. Thank the do-gooders for that.

As to the kirpin - it just goes to prove that PC is a definate case of the lunatics taking over the assylum ! :( :mad:

Whether we agree with the driver's actions or not is irrelevant. Something needs to be done NOW before it's too late.

10th Mar 2003, 00:36
All this Journo has highlighted is something that has been known for many, many years.

Namely that a bona fide pass holder can be coerced (bribed) into smuggling persons or weapons into a secure area.

This topic has been raised at just about every security brief I have attended in the last 20 odd years.

Think about it guys, that's why crew are security screened before going airside.

Are some of you really suggesting that anyone can now do anything illegal to point out something the entire industry already knows? Come on!!!!!!!!!!!

I can do 100+ mph in my car just to point out to the police that it's possible but I'll still get done for it, whether or not I work for a newspaper!

10th Mar 2003, 00:38
I have often wondered why flt crew are so picked out for screening.What are they supposed to be carrying.Surely by
just signing a letter saying I am of sound mind today and have
no reason to commit suicide today and kill all my crew and passengers would suffice.
Also,you do not seem to get many journalists trying to put a pretend bomb on a coach or lorry to get on a ferry.Very easy indeed,and could have an even more devastating outcome.Or engineers working on Eurostar could also do the same with a timer to ensure maximum devastation.Why doesn't a journalist drop a package into a bin somewhere on the underground and see how long it takes before it is found.
As someone said earlier,there is no 100% security if people wish to travel,but aviation as always gets the flak.If you tried to get even near it,crews would be out of hours,passengers p++++d
off,and no-one would be going anywhere.
Screening the crews so blatantly in front of passengers just makes them worry more about who they are flying with,rather than fill them with confidence,something which is badly needed just now.

Crazy Pilot
10th Mar 2003, 08:21
Well I am one of the Drivers and I would have to agree the man should be sacked! Abuse of trust. However he has highlighted a problem that has been there during the 13 years I have been in catering.

It is imposable to be 100% safe with catering, the only way we shall ever be able to stop this happening for real would be to check every catering trolley as it boarded the aircraft as Kuwait Airways have done for many years.

I think the system works fine ATM as it works on looking for things out of place, now the catering driver was seen day in day out by BAA and was trusted, BAA would not be able to check every part of the vehicles, the driver has broken that trust and should be relived from duty. Because of this trust we shall never be safe from sleepers and just have to hope that the checks that are made on staff continue to work.

Just my 2 pennies worth.

10th Mar 2003, 08:23
We all know that maintaining security againts terrorist attacks is a virtually impossible task, we only have to think back to the IRA mortar attack from the Heathrow car park a few years ago to see that. As long as planes fly there will be ways to take them down, you could sit in Hyde park and plink them with shoulder launched SAMs if you felt like it.

This journo and his driver need to have the book thrown at them. We're all for finding and closing loopholes in security, but these guys did this for no other reason than to sell newspapers and in so doing further eroded the confidence of the flying public. The relevant authorities should be prosecuting these guys very agressively. Not just for the actual lapse in security but more to protect jobs in the industry they serve so that the next journalist who gets a phone call from some plonker who wants to be famous reports the lapse to the relevant authorities rather than splashing it on the front page.

10th Mar 2003, 08:35
What about having a small security department whos job is to find these loopholes and activly test the security. The services do it with exercises so why not the civil world. This would prevent these lapses from entering the public domain and giving terrorists ideas.Also prevent the media from creating so much fear hype and money.:confused:

Just an idea....shoot it down if you wish

In trim
10th Mar 2003, 09:15
Let's face it, security can never be 100% without the whole operation grinding to a halt. Look at the number of vehicles moving landside-airside every day.....caterers, cleaners, engineers, etc. etc. etc. To search every single toolbox, under every seat, etc. would grind an airport to a complete halt. How many hiding places are there on an average car?

Nevertheless, these guys should be prosecuted, as should the company concerned for failure to follow procedures before despatching the catering truck from base.

10th Mar 2003, 09:16
It is very hard for the flying public to have much faith in airport security when our premium airport still languishes under the title thief row.

Terrorists like villians are inventive and many of the problems of theiving and smuggling are pretty low tech and are not being stopped, so what chance against say an SAS trained operative.

At least this latest journalist enterprise will result in a mini tightening for a few weeks.

Dai Rear
10th Mar 2003, 09:16
I'm a great believer in level playing fields. Why don't 2 or 3 of us get together and visit the News of the World's printing yard at Wopping, bribe a driver into smuggling us into the plant, and cause some form of major disruption and security breech? We should also take photos and have the story printed off in some of our own company journals or passenger magazines.

10th Mar 2003, 10:40
This is a gap in security that pilots have known about for years. We should be pleased it has been brought to public notice, regardless of the motives of the driver and journalist, because that's the only way it will be put right.

To those who say this sort of breach is unlikely to happen for real because it requires the assistance of a passholder who has been vetted, how do you explain the large number of illegal immigrants who were recently found to be working airside at Heathrow and Gatwick? Had they been vetted? Don't confuse the cursory checks carried out on airport employees, including pilots, with serious security vetting.

It's irresponsible to say we should keep quiet about these failings to avoid alarming the public. They'd be more alarmed if real guns or bombs had been put on board with fatal results. If the BAA and others are not forced to answer for their neglect they won't put matters right.

Next time you're frisked at check-in, in full view of the passengers (shoes off to check for explosives etc), remember that the people responsible for it have been shown up for the fools they are. And smile.

10th Mar 2003, 17:42
Do companies with responsibility for airport security employ their own independant people to test that security? In the computer industry it's normal to have one team of people writing code and a seperate team of people testing it and identifying bugs in that code. The security breaches these journalists keep finding seem blindingly obvious.

11th Mar 2003, 06:21
carrying on cwatters thought....

and no one ever seems to be held to account for these breaches.

no wonder less people fly in these conditions, unable to trust those responsible for security.
The airlines could help their own businesses traffic volumes, ensure profits and also job security for their employees if they did but MAKE the airport management do their job properly.

11th Mar 2003, 08:36
All well and good to hang the messenger, but how does that solve the problems this escapade has publicly revealed?

Are the problems solvable? Some of them, maybe? If not, let's just resume our nap.

It's all right, Jack. Not to worry.

11th Mar 2003, 09:31
So the driver didn't secure the seal on his wagon before he left the factory. On site security should have checked this but didn't - if they had the situation wouldn't have arisen at all and there would be no story.

If the airport security had checked the wagon, as customs do for illegal immigrants, then the reporter would have been detected.

I am sure that both the driver and the reporter would have been arrested and prosecuted and probably sacked if they had been discovered.

The driver surely realised the consequences if he had been discovered and was prepared to take the risk to highlight the lack of security.

As others have said, don't shoot the messenger

11th Mar 2003, 09:46
once again we see the papers making a huge scoop about airport security,

What people who read this seem to forget or more likely don't realise is that the only people who will be affected by these stories are the people who have a right to be on any airport in the first place and already hold airside passes.

We are the people who the security personnel seem to tighten up on by more rigorous searches,more constraints and generally more hassle and attitude.But we already have been investigated by virtue we have airside passes of which have been issued by the same security section itself.

When was the last time you saw a passenger frisked all the way up and down and generally made to wait to enter the departure lounge,all the have to do is buy a ticket and show there passport BUT THEN THEY PAY FOR THIS PRIVELIGE and we dont want to upset the travelling public do we?

This being the case what is the point of the airside pass?

Security in this country has a long way to go before it becomes professional and in most peoples opinion could start by concentrating on the harder issues instead of the soft touch and should be controlled by an external agency/dept.

Consistancy would also help to achieve this maybe but something should be done but will it?

11th Mar 2003, 13:39
My view on this one, as on all "Bloody journos in security outrage" threads, is that it is very silly to get furious that journalists have found the security people out. The shocking thing is that the security failure existed. The newsman didn't create it - the authority responsible for security did that. Far better that journalists find the loophole than that terrorists do - at least as long as you can believe that the Control Authority will close it once their failure is detected. We'd all like to believe that!
But if you have a culture of covering up faults, which is what you get if you blame the messenger, it is not likely that failure will be detected or corrected until the wings fall off. What would we think of an airline that covered up faults in maintenance/flight ops/training...until a crash occurred? Why shouldn't CRM principles (openness to criticism, no-blame culture etc..) also apply to security? After all, the basic idea that being open to criticism and capable of admitting your mistakes improves performance underlies amongst other things parliamentary democracy, "accountability" etc. Most security tasks outside the province of the Police are conducted by private security firms, and a company has only one real responsibility to its shareholders - to maximise profit. If you decide to make it by producing rubbish, and hoping that the customer does not notice - who holds you to account? With something like security, failure will only become apparent after the explosion. So - somebody has to put pressure on. Secrecy is a dangerous and addictive drug.

11th Mar 2003, 16:27
When was the last time you saw a passenger frisked all the way up and down and generally made to wait to enter the departure lounge Where the hell have you been for the past 18 months ? Not on a flight, apparently.:*

11th Mar 2003, 17:08
When I first read this story I wondered if the driver actually checked to see if this guy was a journo or just took his word for it.
Imagine if he really was a terrorist pretending to be a journo.

Now THAT frightens me.

Of course, the whole problem with security is 'how tough do you make it',
After all you can make it as tight as possible but then pax would need to checj much earlier to go through the myriad security checks and how would the airports cope with all the additional people?

And who checks the security? It only takes ONE lapse, ONE bribe, ONE breach and it's bye-bye to a lovely shiny aircraft.


15th Mar 2003, 09:51
Both journo & driver to be prosecuted under prevention of terrorisim act.


15th Mar 2003, 10:23
It always comes back to the same thing doesn't it??? 'He's (Customs, Police, Immigartion) not being searched why should I be.' As I recall of few years ago, The same News Of the World found that you could forge references and other documents used to 'vet' aiport staff. The Control Authorities, Police, Customs and Immigaration have far higher level of checks done on them...I don't recall the NoW blasting out the headline, 'Police officer has criminal record', do you?
So when are you going to face facts, the threat does not come from Police etc. The threat doesn't come from a driver who rings the NOW and then sneeks in with a jurno in the back. But it does highlight a breach. The BAA can't garentee 100% security, and are on the whole releuctant to admit there is a problem. The way foreward is perhaps to admit that they cannot give 100% protection, and maybe start a reward scheme for staff who point out flaws in the security system. Think about it, BAA would know first and be able to tighten things up, and the fincial insentive to go running to the papers would be removed.

15th Mar 2003, 11:13
bjcc, Anyone can be tempted by a bribe, Just because someone is Police or customs it does not make them immune.

My local police station was recently raided by CIB because a bunch of detectives was found to be accepting bribes from organised crime.

The problem is that they are heavily vetted at time of application but NEVER again after that.


15th Mar 2003, 19:32
At last somebody else agrees with me, well done and many thanks `ASFKAP`for your posting of 12 March.
I say yet again, Security is only as strong as the weakest link, and while HM Customs, Police and others are immune from checks when going air side, there will always be a potential loophole.
I have no problem with and fully accept that as a passenger I am liable for security checking when I go airside, but lets have one rule for us all. Once we start to make concessions and excuse certain personnel from security checking, we immediately reduce and water down the effect of those checks.
On the immediate subject of the EGKK incident, my sixpenny worth is, The driver and the reporter did one way or the other, expose a loophole in the lax security at Gatwick. That said, I now hope they do have the book thrown at them and are considered and treated as terrorist suspects.

15th Mar 2003, 20:30

"That said, I now hope they do have the book thrown at them and are considered and treated as terrorist suspects."

They clearly are not terrorist suspects and shouldn't be treated as such. And they won't be. Officialdom wouldn't be stupid enough to try it and if they did they would be laughed out of court.

16th Mar 2003, 16:49
Thanks for your reply and I note your comments.
While I accept few of us will ever totally agree on this serious incident and I may be a little ` way out` with my suggestions as just what to do with these idiots, could I ask action `you` would suggest the authorities take then!
I do accept that, by their actions the driver and reporter exposed a large loophole in the Gatwick security, but what would have been the outcome had they been challenged and subsequently shot dead by an armed police officer on the airfield.

16th Mar 2003, 20:22

They exposed a loophole that many of us knew about. There’s no doubt the airport authorities also knew but failed to tackle the problem. It’s true security has been improved in some areas and I have sympathy for the people who have to make the difficult decisions on where and how to improve it. But their persistence in harassing pilots and crews over items such as penknives while giving airside passes to illegal immigrants has damaged any confidence we might have had in them.

Now the loophole has been exposed and they are embarrassed and I dare say they would like to punish the two who exposed it. As for what action to take against the intruders: they must have broken the law so it must be possible to take them to court. But the charge would be a fairly minor one and wouldn’t discourage other reporters. The airport authorities would probably have to face the defence counsel in court and would be made to feel even more foolish than they do now. If I were in their position I think I would be searching desperately for a way to let it drop.

You ask what would have been the outcome if they had been challenged and shot by police on the airfield. I presume they would have responded to a challenge from armed police by putting their hands up and surrendering. There would be no reason for the police to shoot without first giving them a chance to explain. However any reporter in search of a good story must accept that things don’t always go to plan.

17th Mar 2003, 10:34
Thanks again for your reply to my last post on this subject.
I understand once more and take the points you make, on board.
I would also agree with you in particular and then some with the points you make in para 1 of your message. However I still would contend that, eventhough the `LGW TWO`did expose a gaping hole in the airport security, the outcome could well have been more serious. Now I suppose more little Grannies will have even more nail files taken from their handbags at check in etc.
I also note the post from ASFKAP of 16th and again agree totally with what he says. The minute we start to excuse various personnel and sections from the security procedures for whatever reason, the effect of that security is greatly reduced. For a number of years at the end of my military flying career I was security checked and cleared to a level that enabled me to fly HM the Q. This was a great privilidge and also a lovely tour of duty, but the security was very high, thorough and sensible.
Sensible security, professionally administered at all levels is what is required throughout the aviation industry, I contend, unfortunately we are a long way from that point as yet

17th Mar 2003, 11:51
Reference the "gaping hole in Gatwick security", if I understand the issue, the initial problem was the failure of the catering company to carry out their security checks and seal the vehicle. The driver colluded in this scam and Gatwick security were presented with a vehicle that appeared to comply with the regulations.

The posts, and newspaper reports, that require Airport Security to be tightened imply a requirement for all vehicles to be searched at the access control gates - fine, but consider the time and manpower required to carry this out to everyones satisfaction - under the vehicle, in the cab, the engine compartment, the goods carried, etc etc. Are we all willing to pay for this both financially and in time taken ?

There are usually ways to break most systems if you have enough people coluding together........

17th Mar 2003, 20:43
Woof: From the stated facts, one senses that the problem is larger than just the caterer's seal and procedures for searching the truck. I would suggest that to achieve an appropriate level of security for aircraft operations, the airport security folks might need to work to a level of performance standards similar to that applied elsewhere in aviation.

One could could make a very specific list of points reflecting this perspective(others please add), such as:

1. The incident shows a failure to enforce existing security procedures - at least in this instance

2. Lack of any variability in the established checking procedures, makes them easy enough to subvert with long-baked plans.

3. Lack of redundancy in security procedures - so the failure of one component or the process means total failure & loss of control of the security mission

4. No closure of loops in the security process - lack of id checking upon exiting airside, for example - means missing an opportunity to catch mischief ex post facto, at least.

5. Only a single sleepy layer of security between the street and the jewels.

6. Evidently nobody is unpredictably but comprehensively policing the ramp and looking in on the players active there

7. The system does not seem to be at all oriented toward achieving a necessary degree of accountability in the security process at every step and at every moment of the day.