...Confusion Reigns, But There's Hope

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At Potomac Airfield, manager David Wartofsky shared with AVweb a security incident that raised an entirely new set of questions. A Connecticut doctor was intercepted in restricted airspace and escorted by a Blackhawk helicopter to Potomac. Once on the ground, it was clear the good doctor was no threat and, as far as the authorities were concerned, he was free to continue his trip. Trouble was, the surgeon wasn't among the DC-3-based group of pilots allowed clearances to fly out of those three airports. Wartofsky came to the rescue by finding a cleared pilot to take the errant pilot out of the sanitized zone. Wartofsky said it's an example of the bizarre circumstances that surface daily but he's also confident things will get better. "Within the FAA and TSA there are more competent people moving into positions [of authority]," he said. As they become established in their jobs, Wartofsky said he has hope that a "rational and user-friendly airspace security paradigm" will evolve. He said the key to that is focusing on people and their motives and developing a system to separate the good guys from the bad guys. "The mission and the methodology are confused," he said. The result has been that existing systems, given new and unfamiliar tasks, are crumbling under the strain. "By overwhelming the system, you undermine it," he said. "It still astonishes me, the confusion out there."