Sea-Tac describes measures taken since Horizon Air incident

The Port of Seattle which oversees the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has described the actions the airport has taken following the Horizon Air incident on 10 August.

Alaska Airlines reported that on Friday 10 August, a Horizon Air ground agent employee made an unauthorised take-off from Sea-Tac Airport in a Horizon Air Q400 aircraft, later crashing in a wooded area on Ketron Island in rural Pierce County.

In a press conference, commission president Courtney Gregoire described the actions the Sea-Tac Airport has taken since the incident, including increasing patrols and police visibility, and the forward-looking actions the airport is reviewing that would further restrict unauthorised use of airport equipment.

“Safety is our number one priority,” Gregoire said, going on to explain: “Here at the Port of Seattle, we’ve gotten information that all security protocols were handled appropriately here at the airport. That is something that we pride ourselves on, we have always met all federal security protocols. But, we have always gone beyond when necessary.

“Just about 18 months ago, when we took a look at some of our options for improving security, we implemented physical security screening for all airport employees. That means, of course, all employees who work at the airport get a security badge. They’ve gone through a federal background check with the TSA, that’s a 10-year background check, and that badge is renewed every two years.

“But to make sure we were thinking about human factors in the operations of this airport, we added employee security screening—physical screening like you experience when you go through and travel through this airport. We’re one of the only airports in the country to do this when we took that voluntary leap.”

“Why do we do something like that? Because we always want to have this conversation about how we improve, how to work with our partners better, and how to keep security top of mind. So that’s what today is about,” Gregoire explained that the airport team is in contact with airline partners, federal authorities and all the agencies regarding “‘Where do we go from here?’”

Gregoire added that there are still facts to uncover, “We want to have a conversation with all the partners about what are the options for improving.”

She continued. “We’re not waiting. We expect to have a national level conversation. We expect the federal government may have some ideas about regulation. Here at Sea-Tac, we can lead and that’s why we’re not waiting, and starting those conversations today.”

The Port has previously confirmed that it worked with federal agencies to prevent departures shortly after the unauthorised flight departed from Sea-Tac Airport on the 16C runway.

During the evening approximately 75 flights were delayed, nine flights diverted to other airports and five flights were cancelled. It is estimated that 19 flights incurred delays over two hours, but none exceeded the three-hour tarmac delay. Normal operations resumed at 8:40pm with operations returning to normal by 1:00am.

Written by: Kimberley Young

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