9/11: Changes and updates in airport security in the United States

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, at 8:45 a.m., no one expected what was going to happen a minute later. Two commercial aircraft, with passengers on board, hit the Twin Towers squarely.

American Airlines 11 and United Airlines 175 were intentionally crashed into the north and south towers. In the same there were more than 14,000 people, of which a total of 1,845 deaths is estimated.

The third hijacked plane was American Airlines Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon headquarters in Virginia. The fourth plane, belonging to United Airlines Flight 93, was targeting the United States Capitol located in the city of Washington DC, but crashed in the open field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Due to the four attacks, the death toll reached almost 3,000 people and more than 6,000 injured. So far, DNA studies continue to confirm their identities.

But as of the terrorist attacks, of the Al Qaeda network, the national and international airport regulations were drastically modified: “The first measure of the Bush Administration was to introduce 20 million dollars for airport intelligence, and also the creation of the TSA (Transportation and Security Administration) ”, Jorge Polanco, former Aerolineas Argentinas pilot, told NA.

On November 19, 2001, Congress approved the Aviation and Transportation Security Law and at the end of 2002, explosives detection systems were deployed at all airports in the country.

In turn, the National Government decided that the 430 airports would pass to federal control. This change generated an abrupt change for the airlines and for the intelligence services: “Currently the TSA in the United States has more than 70,000 agents, who took control of the airlines,” argued Polanco.

The controls were increasing as the weeks passed. Months after the terrorist attack, airports began to require passengers to give two hours’ notice before taking the plane.

Controls were also intensified on the personal objects of each individual, both the hand and the cellar. From 2001 to 2003 the TSA collected more than 4,800,000 prohibited items on board, from pistols, knives to flammable objects, including razor blades hidden in sneakers.

Before the attack on the airports, more than 16,000 private security guards worked at the checkpoints. By the end of 2002, 56,000 more had been hired. The TSA, for its part, hired about 65,000 new federal agents. In addition, more military personnel were assigned to mount the flight and data will be crossed with the FBI bases to detect suspicious passengers earlier.

David Pekoske, administrator of the TSA, pointed out the large number of weapons seized at airport checkpoints: an estimated more than 3,200 last year, of which 83% of them were loaded.

The United States maintains conflicts with the countries of the Middle East, but currently its embassies work through neighboring countries to establish secure diplomatic relations. Today the requirements to enter the country are those that the Embassies request. Then the information is filtered by the intelligence services who were the ones who began to intervene after September 11.

Other measures include the integration of undercover federal agents on the flights, the creation of the exclusion list with the files of those citizens prevented by the Government from traveling by air, the installation of bulletproof mechanisms that make it impossible for passengers to travel. enter the cockpit and peepholes were placed to see who was hitting on the other side. Only the captain and cabin manager know the access code. Airports have induced substantial changes in operations.

The airports were filled with signs that warn that if you find a bag without an owner, you should immediately call the police and not touch it for the world.

But what about the pilots? They are trained?

According to Polanco, the pilots were trained with protocols that cannot be disseminated, but there is a culture of safety imposed by the Airlines with new technologies to reduce the risks of possible attacks: “New technologies can prevent many things, but not evil thoughts. . The risk, although minimal, will always be ”.

“The glamor of commercial aviation disappeared and now with the pandemic we not only have to take off our clothes before boarding, going through a scanner, but we must have valid certificates and medical studies,” explained Polanco.

Pekoske and other security experts point out that, since September 11, 2001, there has been no terrorist attack on US aviation.

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