TSA On Offensive After Damaging Aircraft

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While the TSA stipulates that its inspector damaged sensitive external probes while assessing the security of nine American Eagle planes parked overnight at O'Hare, it contends that the inspector got into seven of the nine -- and that American is to blame. Toward that end, the TSA is opening an inquiry into "multiple security violations" by American Eagle. Forty American Eagle flights were delayed to allow mechanics time to determine if probes would still properly function following the inspector's "inspection." The inconvenience and loss of revenue may now be compounded by the TSA's continuing investigation that could theoretically fine the airline up to $175,000, according to the TSA, for leaving their aircraft vulnerable. The TSA said doors were left open on the aircraft and that this week's inspection was a follow-up to earlier inspections, which exposed the same vulnerability.

Regulations require that doors be closed while aircraft are unattended and that jet bridges be pulled away from the aircraft. Those jet bridges are operated using key codes that only airline and airport employees with valid ID are authorized to know. As yet, there's no indication that American was operating outside of security regulations or guidelines. The airline said in a statement it is "confident that it followed all proper security procedures for securing aircraft overnight," and that if they'd gone un-noticed the actions of the inspector "could have jeopardized the safety of our customers and crew."