TSA faces tough questions about airline safety, security

Stolen Airplane_1536175396638

People wait near the luggage area at Sea-Tac International Airport Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, in SeaTac, Wash. An airline mechanic stole an Alaska Airlines plane without any passengers and took off from Sea-Tac International Airport in Washington state on Friday night before crashing near Ketron Island, officials said. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

On the heels of one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, the top official at the Transportation Security Administration faces tough questions about airline safety. 

“The threat today is no less concerning than it was immediately following 9/11,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske.

Pekoske warns senators dangers are constantly evolving. One concern is 3D guns.  

“There’s a great concern about the danger that these weapons pose,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). 

Made from plastic off blueprints found on the internet, 3D guns can be challenging for TSA screeners to detect. 

“Our officers at the checkpoints are skilled at identifying 3D weapons,” Pekoske said.
e can see them on the existing X-ray technology that we have.”

But Pekoske says new screening systems are needed to improve detection. It’s part of a plan to upgrade TSA technology in key areas.

Some senators are frustrated at the pace of improvement. 

“TSA has had difficulty testing and deploying these technologies in a timely manner,” said Sen. John Thune (R-SD). 

There’s also concern about a controversial passenger surveillance program known as Quiet Skies.  

“Under the program, air marshals monitor American passengers who aren’t suspected of any crime,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). 

Some worry its a waste of money and infringes on privacy rights. But Pekoske insists Quiet Skies is key to transportation security and has identified potential terrorists. 

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