Airport Terror Drills

Title: Authorities Stage Terror Drill In Boston
June 5, 2005

Abstract: Authorities staged an elaborate anti-terrorism drill Saturday at Logan International Airport, responding to a simulated hijacking reminiscent of the December 2001 plot to detonate a shoe bomb aboard a trans-Atlantic flight.

Operating on the premise that gun-toting terrorists were trying to hijack a United Airlines plane carrying 169 passengers from Paris to Chicago, two F-15 Eagle fighter jets intercepted the airliner over the Atlantic Ocean and forced it to land at Logan.

On the ground, FBI and State Police tactical teams stormed the plane, freed the volunteer "hostages" and arrested two "terrorists" after negotiators failed to yield a peaceful end to the fictional hijacking.

"Things went just as we hoped they would go," said Amy Corbett, regional administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration.

"Operation Atlas," which cost roughly $700,000 and brought together about 50 federal, state and local agencies, was billed as the first training drill involving a real airborne intercept of a commercial airliner.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said the exercise, paid for by a federal Homeland Security grant, was money "well-spent."

"It's about practice," he said. "I would rather have a glitch today than (during) an actual terrorist attack."

Many of the same emergency workers from Saturday's drill also responded to the 2001 incident on American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami.

That flight was diverted to Boston and landed safely at Logan after Richard Reid, a self-proclaimed member of the al-Qaida terrorist network, tried to ignite explosives in his shoe. Reid, now serving a life sentence, was subdued before the flight landed and then arrested.

Logan officials had warned neighboring residents, pilots, airlines and passengers in terminals that Saturday's display was only a drill. The exercise didn't cause any delays at Logan, according to a Massport spokesman.

In April, New Jersey and Connecticut teamed up for the five-day "TOPOFF 3" drill, which included a simulated bioterror and chemical weapons attacks resulting in 6,508 fake deaths and the arrests of five mock terrorists in a raid (NewsMax, 2005).

Title: Report: Terror Drill In Boston Shows Response Flaws
Date: December 26, 2005
USA Today

Abstract: An anti-terrorism drill at Logan International Airport revealed flaws in law-enforcement's ability to respond to an attack, according to a newly released report.

On June 4, a team of federal, state and local law-enforcement officials gathered at Logan for a simulated hijacking of a commercial jet.

A report analyzing the outcome of "Operation Atlas" found that the agencies' response was lacking in some areas.

Ambulances were slow to respond to the simulated threat due to tight security restrictions around Logan and confusion over who was in charge, the 39-page report concluded.

Poor communication between state and local police and mismatched computer programs also hampered law-enforcement's response, according to the After Action Report, which was prepared by consultants hired by the federal Homeland Security Department.

The drill "did a fantastic job of showing where the various security agencies are doing a great job, and where more work needs to be done," said Seth Gitell, a spokesman for Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, whose office helped coordinate Operation Atlas.

Gitell said some of the problems, including the mismatched computer systems, already have been fixed.

Carlo Boccia, Boston's director of homeland security, said the more than 50 agencies that participated in the drill were encouraged to "address their mistakes."

"That's the reason for a drill, and we don't want to disguise any of those mistakes and we didn't," Boccia added.

Although agencies involved in the drill had trouble communicating, Boccia said the region is "way ahead of the curve" in terms of radio intercommunication.

"We're much further ahead than when the drill was conducted," he said. "That's as far as I would go. We've made great progress, but we're still working on it."

Both of the planes that hit the World Trade Center took off from Logan on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

The simulated hijacking, paid for by a federal Homeland Security grant, was reminiscent of the December 2001 plot by Richard Reid to detonate a shoe bomb aboard a trans-Atlantic flight.

Operating on the premise that gun-toting terrorists were trying to hijack a United Airlines plane carrying 169 passengers from Paris to Chicago, two F-15 Eagle fighter jets intercepted the airliner over the Atlantic Ocean and forced it to land at Logan (USA Today, 2005).

Title: No One Told Airport Cops About Terror Drill
May 19, 2011
SF Examiner

Abstract: Passengers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport were treated to the alarming sight of police with their guns drawn running through the terminal to surround a man believed to be smuggling a bomb through a security checkpoint.

Unfortunately, nobody at the Transportation Security Administration had bothered telling the cops it was just a routine drill with a fake explosive device.

So the checkpoint screener successfully spotted an apparent bomb and hit the terrorist-alert silent alarm (SF Examiner, 2011).

Title: Disaster Exercise: Terrorism Attack At Meadows Field Airport
August 30, 2012
23 ABC News

Nearly 40 people were severely injured or killed Wednesday morning after terrorists in a single engine plane crashed into a commuter plane at Meadows Field Airport.

That was the scenario for the disaster exercise.

The emergency exercise drill is required of the airport every three years.

It was a chance for the County Fire Department, Sheriffs Office, Emergency Medical Services, Public Health Department, Environmental Health, California Highway Patrol and several other agencies to join in on a disaster drill.

"To understand where our weaknesses and strengths are at when everybody works together," said Kern County Fire spokesman Eric Coughran.

"It's important to test this once in a while and make sure that the whole system works as it's designed," said EMS Director Ross Elliott (23 ABC News, 2012).

Title: Port Authority Emergency Drill At Newark Airport
October 21, 2012
My Fox New York

The Port Authority held full-scale emergency drill exercise at Newark Liberty International Airport Saturday morning. 

The agency simulated an accident between a passenger jet and a cargo plane that included injuries and smoky conditions.  

Regular flight traffic was not affected during the exercise that was visible at the airport and to motorists on the New Jersey Turnpike and Routes 1 & 9.  

The drill included members of the PA Police Dept., EWR airport staff, PA Office of Emergency Management, the Newark and Elizabeth Fire and Police Departments, New Jersey State Police, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FBI, U.S. Transportation Security Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Red Cross and other agencies (My Fox New York, 2012).