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Fri, May 09, 2008

Homeless Man Thwarts STL Security, Found Napping On Plane

Incident Termed A 'Hiccup' By Officials

Two contract security guards at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, MO were suspended this week, after a homeless man was found sleeping onboard a parked regional jet.

KTVI-2 reports the man was able to slip past the two Whalen Security officers Wednesday morning, as they inspected a vehicle at a perimeter checkpoint. The 58-year-old homeless man was later found sleeping onboard a Trans States Airlines CRJ.

Local police called the incident a "hiccup" in airport security, according to KMOV-4. But airline analyst Mel Burkart said that doesn't begin to describe it.

"Obviously it was a thoughtless breach of security," said Burkart. "The potential is there. You know you have an airport like St. Louis that has hundreds of acres of ground and it has a fence up all the way around it but it's not monitored and it's not under total security vigilance day and night."

Airline employees found the man. TSA officials said the incident made clear the importance of "layered" security -- where airport, airline, and TSA officials are all watching for signs of something amiss.

"We all recognize that these layers are important because no single layer is 100 percent full proof, 100 percent of the time," said TSA spokewoman Carrie Harmon.

FMI: www.tsa.gov, www.lambert-stlouis.com/

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