8-inch knife found on flight from Los Angeles, CA to Portland, OR

Incident illustrates ongoing security problems and access to aircraft

22 March 2007: A “kitchen type” knife with an eight-(8) inch blade was reportedly found between two airline seats on board a Horizon Air flight originating from Ontario Airport in Los Angeles bound for Portland, Oregon International Airport on Monday. The Horizon Airlines plane landed without incident at the Portland International Airport just before 5 p.m. local time from Ontario, California. According to airline officials, the knife was allegedly found by a male passenger who was getting off the plane and turned over to a flight attendant.

Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) officials suggested the possibility that a maintenance employee working on the plane had left it behind, a suggestion that was refuted by Jen Boyer, a spokeswoman for Horizon Air. “Eight-inch knives are not in the toolbox for our mechanics, flight attendants or pilots,” stated Ms. Boyer.

Jennifer Currier, president of the flight attendants’ union for Horizon Airlines, echoed Ms. Boyer’s statements, noting that the knife incident is merely one example that airline security needs to be tightened. According to Ms. Currier, a number of prohibited items have been found aboard aircraft that eluded security, also noting that security for airline support personnel is insufficient in many ways. Maintenance workers, certain food service workers, and other support personnel are not always subjected to normal security protocol, opening a significant gap in security. One recent example can be cited in the arrest of a Delta (COMAIR) employee who exploited his security privileges to circumvent security procedures, using his COMAIR identification to gain access to restricted areas and place the cargo aboard the aircraft.

An investigation into the incident is continuing.