Security breaches involving badged airport employees1 are a growing risk in today’s commercial aviation industry. Currently at almost every commercial airport in the United States, employees of airports, airlines, purveyors, and other tenants enjoy unfettered access to the airport’s Security Identification Display Area (SIDA), sterile, and secured areas. In recent years, there have been several high profile incidents deriving from this freedom of movement and lack of oversight which have resulted in the introduction of dangerous contraband into the aviation system. Several alternatives can be implemented to combat this problem.

What is perhaps the most effective of these is also the most expensive: promulgating regulations that require 100 percent screening of all airport employees entering the SIDA. Other proposals include increasing background investigations into airport badgeholders, increasing penalties for violations of airport security rules as a means of preventing at-risk employees from ever obtaining a SIDA badge, or deterring such badgeholders from misusing their access media.

Risks involving airport badgeholders grow more prevalent by the day. Immediate change and rulemaking is needed if our commercial aviation system is to remain as safe and secure as it is today.