Exclusive: TSA Investigation Underway After Driver Accidentally Enters Taxiway At Philadelphia International Airport

By Todd Quinones

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There is now an investigation underway after sources indicate a security breakdown led to an ordinary driver making his way onto a main taxiway, which is right near a runway.

It’s supposed to be a secure perimeter around Philadelphia International Airport.

You might think only a skilled individual could get access to a taxiway planes use, but you would be wrong.

According to sources, a driver who was lost near the airport managed to drive right through a checkpoint, past a Philadelphia police officer in a patrol car, as well as two department of aviation employees.

The driver, along with a passenger, sources say, drove hundreds of yards down Taxiway J, at one point they even got out of the car completely undetected. It was about 5 minutes before they were even spotted.

“It’s a frightening prospect no doubt about it.” said John Gagliano, a licensed pilot and an aviation attorney, who also flew combat missions for the navy in Afghanistan.

It was about 3:45 a.m. Sunday morning when the driver headed down what’s known the taxiway.

Gagliano showed Eyewitness News the significance of that specific taxiway and why he contends the mishap demonstrates a dangerous breakdown in security.

“It’s a long taxiway that not only gets you close to all the terminals, but also pretty close to [one] runway. It puts lives in danger. It’s someone who is not communicating with any of the pilots,” Gagliano said.

Sources indicate the Philadelphia police officer who didn’t stop the driver will face disciplinary action, and that the gate near cargo city, has since been reconfigured.

The driver and the passenger, Eyewitness News is told were eventually cleared and not charged with any crime. As it appears, the driver was just confused and got lost.

A spokesperson at the airport had no comment citing an ongoing investigation which now involves the TSA.

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  • Steven Monfrini

    In 1997 I was able to enter Austin Muller Airport thru a secure entrance. I did have a security badge issued to me in 1995. I was a contractor for American Airlines at the time. I had not been informed that I wasn’t suppose to enter through this gate. I crossed a taxi way and parked at the end of the jet way as this was the area I was working at the time. I was surprised my badge worked.The cops did show up after ten minutes. I was able unload my tools and material I was using before the women cop showed up….. on a bicycle. There were many aircraft at the end of the jet way at the time, both loading and unloading. I was told I could no longer use the entrance, but allowed to stay for this last day. I know this was before 2001 but it goes to show that security wasn’t what it should have been. There was other things about this place that wasn’t so secure such as being able to get from the parking lot to the American end of the jet way from the short term parking lot through the ventilation system. I found this out inadvertently during my work under the airport. I wonder how many airports are really insecure.

    • David from San Diego

      Worse yet, the crooked real estate developers, politicians, and debenture (“bond”) lawyers made tens of millions when they later closed Muller Airport and moved AUS to Bergstrom. I get angry about that every time I fly into “AUS” and then drive a very long way into Austin. Thank the Good Lord the crooks here in San Diego failed in their evil effort to close Lindbergh and open a new SAN somewhere far out of town.

  • Mannie

    The contractor gates are not necessarily all that secure. I used to drive my truck onto ORD airside for work. My guess is that they checked in a string of vehicles and messed up the count. Tagging onto the tail of a group is the oldest trick in the book for getting through checkpoints. It is an easytrick to fall for, but inexcusable. Security ranges from lunatic to ludicrous, almost at random.

    Once on Airside, you drive along the truck roads without escort. We parked on the aprons, next to the aircraft. You had to be careful, as jet exhaust cah wreck your truck. It would be frighteningly easy, if you don’t know how airfields are marked, to turn onto a taxiway. The good news is that taxiway traffic. including aircraft, is moving pretty slowly. It would be harder to turn onto a runway by accident.

  • frank

    an ATC controller on ground control is the guilty party here but no one seems to get that..!

    • vfebwvfewb

      It was at night, and not near the tower. Ground control doesn’t have a visual at night. Hence the need for security forces at the fence.

      • ATC

        Umm,like they have Radar! Or does the union turn it off while they sleep in the tower!

      • Jason

        ATC – Are you really stupid enough to believe that ATC had planes on radar while they are on the ground?? Are you even able to tie your shoes in the morning?

    • D. Winn

      OMG! Did the TSA find him and perform a Pat-Down? On the Tarmac or runway?

  • c mac of 22911

    The TSA couldn’t fix a peanut better sandwich.

  • Malachi

    TSA bigs and dumb emps should be rounded up and fired..ps must be Bush’s fault too

    • Jeronimo Dan

      At least that crosse dresserr that heads the TSA, what’s his name James Neopolitano?

      • Regulas

        thanks, i needed my daily chuckle

  • BillYBoy

    Probably just Steve Martin trying to get back to Chicago for Thanksgiving dinner with the family.

    • JamesPainter


  • Jeffrey Betts

    Give the TSA a break they were to busy making granny drop her depends or molesting children to spot this.

    • Mike

      Oh my God. This wasn’t even a TSA issue. It was the local police that dropped the ball. Is there anything you idiots won’t blame TSA for? Global warming? Poor resale value on your home? Get over it.

      • SuperCut

        You mean there more things they can be accused of? What a great idea. I knew they’re ineffective and incompetent when it comes to air travel, but given this new info I guess we can get rid of them sooner.

      • Yukiko

        Isn’t TSA supposed to be guarding ALL checkpoints? Not that them guarding anything would make it safe or protected.

      • John Moser

        If they have time to randomly search people at train stations, perhaps they should spend a little time protecting the runways.

      • Ricky Ricardo

        T.S.A. = Transportation Security Administration,
        security usually infers keeping access to only those authorized.

      • oldud

        If the TSA would have been involved, they would have searched him and his taxi. When they were through, the taxi driver would be missing his wallet, watch, wheels, spare tire and radio.

  • Frederick

    The ‘Commerical’, as opposed to the ‘Public’ side of nearly all Airports in the US has as long as you look like you know what you’re doing, no one will care. And the tarmac usually continues all the way up to where your flight is taking off.

    • Frederick

      (Looks llike the TSA is editing comment now!). Add ‘poor security and anyone can get on the tarmac’, after ‘US has’

  • Norbert G. Ginsel

    I’m very glad they are going to investigate. After a year or so, they will report that it actually happened, but it was not the fault of the TSA. Case closed.

    Plan B: Well,, OK it was partially of the fault of the TSA in that one of their guys was drunk on the job and absent from his assigned post. He has been given retraining so he’ll do better next time. Case closed.

  • snipelee

    Anyone notice that the nationality of the driver and passenger are absent in this story?

    • Jim Bunion

      Most Terrorists are White Males with CIA and Demo skills.

  • TheivesStealingAmerica

    Come on now, give TSA a break – equal opportunity corruption is a constitutional right under Obama’s new constitution for America – all the TSA agents were going through luggage looking to sweeten their salaries by stealing and the rest were dreaming of putting their hands up little girls skirts when their shift started.

    • Sara

      Read the article. It was local police securing the gate, you idiot.

  • Brian

    If PHL is anything like DFW, and it sounds to me like it is, then TSA is not at fault, despite the hyperventilating ramblings of the comments here. At DFW, access to the AOA is controlled by private security (that private security so beloved by TSA critics) contracted by the local airport police. Being that the police officer is the one in trouble for letting this guy drive right on by, I’m guessing PHL has a similar setup. Sorry guys, TSA isn’t to blame here; they are just in the headline so you critics will click on the article! Rubes…

  • Government Hand-Rapists

    Never fear, the TSA is examining to determine what occurred.

    They’re conducting pelvic exams even as we speak.

  • PokedNprodded

    The TSA is nothing more than a jobs program for chronically unemployable pimply social-misfit cop-wannabee teenagers who would otherwise never get experience in touching another human being in their entire socially-backwards lives.

  • Tim G.

    If a terrorist can build a bomb, I’m sure he can create a mock taxi to get on the Taxiway. This whole thing is ridiculous and reactionary

    • John Moser

      He might be able to make a mock run to get on the runway too.

  • Peter

    The checkpoint personnel were likely on their customary union break.

    • Willy

      Tim G. Are ‘Taxiways’ for taxis in your funny world? Just wondering.

      • Joe Blow

        You may have missed the subtle humor.

      • Whit Soul

        Is sarcasm effective when it has to be explained?

        Or does this occurrence say more about the reader than the writer?

      • Not Chicken Little

        And Runways are for…oh, never mind. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.

  • Joseph L Cooke

    Defund the TSA gang of thugs today. It’s time for some US citizens to grow a spine.

    Liberals are a cancer upon America. 2012. Cure cancer.

  • Jimbo

    “TSA investigates”? That’s a joke.
    What has TSA found in the past 11 years of violating the rights of American citizens? Underwear bombs? Nope……Shoe bombs? Don’t think so…..Colostomy bags? Oh yeah! Granny ain’t gittin’ on dat plane wit a colostomy bag!

    TSA is a Bush Administration jobs program for the chronically unemployed.

    • Joseph L Cooke

      Exactly. Well said.

    • Jumbo

      Yeah, yeah, It’s Bush’s fault (yawn). If Obama is so great, why didn’t he disband the TSA? Because he’s an idiot and a moron, that’s why. Sorry, it’s OBAMA’s program now. Will he or his minions ever grow up and take responsibility – for anything?

    • Sara

      I work for TSA. First off, for you know-nothing stereotyping windbags, I have prior military service and two college degrees. Secondly, I prevented a woman from carrying a handgun onto a plane last week. That is not really an uncommon occurence. You sit at home armchair pundits know absolutely nothing of what you speak.

      • Ghoul

        The guards at the Nazi concentration camps said it wasn’t their fault either.

      • X-15

        “I work for TSA.”

        Please commit suicide and get off my planet.

      • oldud

        The TSA, according to a GAO (Goverment Accounting Agency) report, had a failure rate of 70% in detecting explosives, guns, knives and other banned items when the GAO teams tested their detection abilities. Just recently, a man got a loaded 9mm pistol through the TSA security at IAH without being caught. He turned himself in when he discovered he had inadvertently left it in his carry on. Nice going, Sara.

  • http://ourtaxdollarsatwork.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/airports-secure-10-years-after-911-and-billions-of-dollars-latter-of-course-not/ Airports Secure 10+ Years After 9/11 And Billions Of Dollars Latter? Of Course Not… « Our Tax Dollars At Work

    […] Appeared Here Share this:StumbleUponDiggRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  • Bubba

    We used to be citizens, we are now suspects.

  • Klaus

    How come TSA workers don’t change their gloves between passengers, but my doctor does? If my doctor can safely use his gloves from one patient to the next, why doesn’t he?

    • Andrew P.

      Same reason you suspect (I bet): Your doctor cares about your well-being. TSA does not. Medical Professionals usually dont wear gloves for your protection, it’s for theirs. Same with the TSA. However, there is no sense in transferring germs from one patient to the next, so to prevent it, your doc will change gloves. TSA, however, doesn’t care about your health/safety; their job is to give the appearance of security only.

      • Klaus

        The risk of dying from a communicable disease I am exposed to at an airport is far greater than the risk of dying from a terrorist attack. If the TSA is touching my genitals or the drool on my shirt, they should not be allowed to touch the next person in line until they change their gloves and wash their hands. This is an assault on basic health care standards by our corrupt politicians, forcing us to accept third world conditions of hygiene. If the terrorists hate us for our freedom, then they love us for giving up our freedom.

  • Bill Fisher

    TSA should be the one under investigation. While they’re wasting time groping children and strip searching elderly women, anyone can gain access to the airstrip. This is the same TSA incompetence that resulted in the death of Delvonte Tisdale last year when he stowed away in a plane wheel well. The TSA security director at PHL should be fired for this.

    This agency is a colossal failure and needs to be replaced with FAA operated security.

    • Colonel Kilgore

      The Philly Police were at fault not TSA and you can fly in the plane where no passengers are vetted, good luck, Charlie don’t surf!

  • A Bit of Thought

    I didn’t think the TSA would investigate this one – no one to fondle.

  • Count Duku

    What do you expect, it’s Filthydelphia—unions & dems

    • Faughornn Vonn

      yeah, as if Republicans didn’t create the TSA in the first place. Dems and Republicans both love the TSA. It’s easy to pass the Patriot Act when you’re exempt from it

      • mmilesll

        the TSA now isn’t what the Republicans created, ask Congressman Mica. When the democrats got involved the administrative staff grew like gangbusters and of course nobama let them unionize. Now it is a joke, overstaffed and worthless.

  • Mr Fields

    This is Bullsh^& there is no terror going on here, I don’t see anything going on that shows me anything like this nor in any of these fake wars that we have been fighting.

    This is all none sense people, it’s a hype to cause people to panic.

    • USArmyCombatMedic

      The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are very real, my friend. Regardless of politics.

      • Frank

        And molesting children and grandmothers in Atlanta stops the terror HOW?

      • Faughornn Vonn

        you’re right, we really are bombing people over there, good point.

    • Joe Blow

      Remember…if you see something, say something! Rat on your friends! You never know what granny is trying to slip past security!

      OR perhaps 9/11 was a systemic failure caused by federal agencies’ failure to communicate with one another. Hm.

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