New York City area airport rules aren’t doing enough to stop delays

If you’re flying to or through the New York City area, bring a book Kindle. You’ll probably be at the airport for a while. A new U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General report says that airports in this part of the country aren’t measuring up, which disrupts air travel nationwide.

According to the Associated Press, the report says that “scheduling rules continue to put too many planes in line during bad weather.” It adds that the “limits imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports in 2008 are too generous and are based on good weather conditions, resulting in a glut of flights when the weather turns ugly.”

The bottom line? Twenty-eight percent of all flights coming into the Newark Liberty International Airport wind up delayed or just canceled, as of August 2010. For LaGuardia and JFK, the rate was around 26 percent. Those aren’t good odds for passengers.

[photo by PetroleumJelliffe via Flickr]

Al Qaeda Yemen connection suspected in cargo plane bomb scares

The simultaneous bomb scares in Newark, Philadelphia and London are now being linked to al Qaeda activity, according to the latest reporting from CNN. On its live blog covering the suspicious item discoveries, CNN reports, “U.S. officials believe that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was behind the plot that caused a security scare at English and American airports on Friday.”

In Washington, a diplomat from Yemen has said the government there is opening a full investigation into the alleged bomb, adapted from a toner ink cartridge, that was discovered in the United Kingdom at East Midlands Airport.

Look for tighter security all around at airports in the United States, some of which, according to CNN, will be “visible and passengers should expect a mix of security techniques.”

[photo by redjar via Flickr]

Planes in Philadelphia and Newark being swept for suspicious materials

Suspicious items have been found on cargo flights that landed in Newark, New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania today. According to the Transportation Security Administration, the planes have been “moved to a remote location … out of an abundance of caution,” according to CNN.

The fire department’s hazardous materials units in Philadelphia responded to situations with two planes – one a UPS flight, the other a 757 with nobody on it. Officials say that the types of material that could be involved aren’t known.

My Fox New York adds:

Homeland Security officials said one of the crew on the cargo plane from Paris, France, landing at Philadelphia around 9 a.m. called authorities thinking a package aboard the plane could have a radioactive makeup, according to

According to My Fox New York, “There are unconfirmed reports that the Newark plane had arrived from Yemen.” Also, a plane bound from Chicago from Yemen was stopped in London when a bomb made from an ink toner cartridge was found.

In a statement, UPS said it’s cooperating with the investigation.

[photo credit: AP]

$11.5 million buys little security at Newark Liberty Airport

Security gaps are so big at Newark Liberty International Airport you can drive a truck through them. Literally. Inside the terminal, the TSA goes through bags and confiscates oversized fluid containers, but no inspection occurs when trucks and vans drive through security checkpoints and out onto the tarmac. Security company FJC is responsible for protecting the airport, reports Fox 5, for which it is paid $11.5 million. The company is also responsible for security at New York area airports JFK and LaGuardia.

According to Fox 5:

The exclusive Fox 5 video shows FJC security guards stopping trucks at the checkpoint, then walking around the truck using a mirror to look at the undercarriage of the vehicle, but never actually examining the cargo inside the truck. Over and over, FJC guards do nothing more than glance inside trucks that are filled with cargo. The cursory inspections of the trucks’ contents lasted about 5 seconds and never actually involved a guard entering a single vehicle. After which the FJC guards simply waved through each and every truck. It is a security process that totally surprises counterterrorism expert Bill Vorlicek, who screened the video.

The range of risks to which the airport, passengers and employees are exposed is wide. Explosives, in particular, could cause mayhem. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives estimates that “an average delivery truck can carry anywhere from 10,000 to 60,000 tons of explosives,” reports Fox 5.

Port Authority COO Ernesto Butcher told Fox 5 the security lapses were “unacceptable.” The report continues:

“Vehicle inspections are just one of a series of multilayered checks to ensure the safety of cargo being brought to the secure side of the airport, but they are critical and will be continually monitored,” Butcher said in a statement. “Port Authority officials have re-emphasized to all FJC security guards and their supervisors the need for continual diligence and proper inspection techniques during their shifts.”

Delta pilot nailed for (allegedly) drunk-flying from Amsterdam to Newark

It’s a long flight from Amsterdam to the New York City/Newark area. I’ve done it. I get antsy and bored. I bring lots of stuff to do. Anything that could make the time pass a little faster would make it onto my list … and that includes putting a few cocktails back.

Of course, I’m not the guy flying the plane.

A Delta pilot was arrested and fined for being drunk, allegedly, when getting ready to fly from Amsterdam to Newark.The (alleged) culprit hasn’t been identified yet, but the Associated Press reports that he’s 52 years old (translation: old enough to know better) and is from Woodbury, NJ.

What Delta has to say on the subject, according to ABC News, is that Flight 35 was “cancelled out of concern that a crew member appeared to be unfit for duty.”

Okay, it isn’t not true …
Here’s a little more from the airline, via ABC News:

“Local Amsterdam authorities have met with the crew member to begin their investigation and we are cooperating fully, while simultaneously launching our own internal investigation,” Delta said in a statement. “The crew member has been suspended pending the outcome of these investigations. Impacted passengers have been reaccomodated on other flights.”

Delta claims to have one of the “strictest” alcohol policies in the airline industry, telling pilots not to show up for work with any alcohol in their bodies. It sounds severe: I have a glass of wine while I’m working from time to time … but I’m only a blogger. Lives are not at stake.

The pilot blew a 0.023 percent result, which puts him a bit over the legal limit in the Netherlands. This cost him $900 in fines, but he was set free. One does hope that Delta isn’t finished with him yet.