Local News

FAA Asks Airports To Check Shoes After Weekend Incident

Posted December 24, 2001

— Security at

RDU International

was already heightened after the Sept. 11 attacks. Now, the FAA is asking airports across the country to tighten it further in light of the scare on Saturday, when Richard Reid allegedly attempted to light his sneakers on fire aboard an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami.

The flight crew and passengers were able to subdue him, but many people question how Reid was able to board the plane wearing explosive devices.

RDU says its security force has checked shoes for some time now, but only if a magnetic screening device goes off and the object causing the alarm cannot be located.

Late Sunday, the FAA issued new security directives based on the incident, but a spokesman says the agency will not provide specifics. He says only that sometimes passengers would be required to remove their shoes at security checkpoints. Passengers at RDU did not seem bothered by the possibility of the request.

A former FAA security chief says that even when people take off their shoes and run them through a magnetic X-ray device, it still may not catch the explosive. Other experts are saying there are not enough explosives in a pair of shoes to blow up a plane or create a loss of cabin pressure to take a plane down.

There are magnetic machines that can do full body cavity searches and possibly prevent incidents like this weekend's. But those machines are extremely expensive and it would probably take years to deploy them in airports across the country.

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