August 21, 2018 | Kendall Creighton We’ve known for years that America is a target of terrorists. And every expert warns that likely terrorist plots would involve commercial airlines. Yet this week we learn it’s shockingly easy for an airline employee with a job on the ground to steal a plane. “The greatest threat we have to aviation is the insider threat,” said a transportation security expert after the recent Seattle plane hijacking by a ground service agent exposed major cracks in airport security. Inspectors need a watchdog Back in 2011, a report by the General Accounting Office criticized the state of U.S. airport security, comparing it unfavorably with the systems of other advanced nations. In 2016, a government watchdog agency said the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was failing in overseeing airport perimeter security. In short, there’s no reliable system for holding regulators accountable for dereliction of duty. Every week seems to bring a new insult to the flying public. A few examples range from the FAA’s claims that seat dimensions are categorically unimportant to emergency egress, to revelations after the Southwest broken-window incident that the airline had resisted safety reviews of its engines, to, most shamelessly, House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster’s admission he was dating a lobbyist at the airline trade association, a group that spends millions trying to influence his panel and other lawmakers. It’s a familiar story that also reveals itself in the abysmal rankings U.S airlines earn for poor customer service, claim processing, punctuality, and seat comfort in both economy class and first class. The courts agree In 2017, in a decision well worth reading, the U.S. Court of Appeals wrote in Flyers Rights v. FAA on the subject of shrinking airline passenger seats: “We agree with Flyers Rights that the [FAA] failed to provide a plausible evidentiary basis for concluding that decreased seat sizes combined with increased passenger sizes have no effect on emergency egress.” [Decision, Part III] “The [FAA] argues that the omission of information … means that seat dimensions are categorically unimportant to emergency egress. That makes no sense.” [Decision, Part III] FAA is playing fast and loose with regulations We have long argued that the FAA is too close to the airlines it is supposed to regulate on behalf of the flying public. That’s why you need FlyersRights.org.