Sen. Cantwell to TSA: Why not have better awareness about grounded planes?

Sen. Maria Cantwell asked the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration what is being done to improve security ever since a plane was stolen from Sea-Tac Airport.

By:  KING Staff
Source: KING 5 News

The Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration says they haven’t implemented any "interim measures" since a man stole a plane from Sea-Tac Airport in August.

“We haven’t changed any measures,” David Pekoske told Senator Maria Cantwell during Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing on Wednesday. “What we’ve done is we’ve highlighted the incident and provided some additional detail to our federal security directors so they’re particularly alert for this particular incident. And as we get the investigative information and look at the facts, we’ll determine whether or not changes are needed to procedures.”

On Aug. 10, Richard Russell, a Horizon Air employee stole a Q400 plane out of a cargo area on the northern edge of the airport by towing it. It’s possible it appeared to be normal activity for the area. It wasn’t until after Russell had taxied a few hundred feet to runway 16C when air traffic controllers became suspicious.

Russell flew the plane around for more than an hour before crashing on Ketron Island. He died in the crash.

Cantwell says the stolen plane raises questions about the layers of security.

Pekoske says there are a “number of investigations” going on right now.

As she has done before, Sen. Cantwell questioned why better technology to track grounded planes hasn’t been implemented yet. She pointed out that anyone with a cellphone can stand on the shore and get vessel information whenever they want.

“Why not have better awareness on all planes?” she asked.

That is part of the review currently underway, Pekoske said.