Results of Review






Results of Review
Houston Is Not a “Sitting Duck for Terrorism”
This review was initiated in part because of the television station’s allegations.  We reviewed the allegations and determined that they were not compelling.

In each instance, the allegation of weak security was based on reporters gaining access to airfields or aircraft. However, the reporters were unaware of some passive security and monitoring measures.  For example, the airports had instituted security procedures, including 24-hour video surveillance, locking or disabling grounded planes, and controlling fuel access, which the television reporters did not test.
Combined, these airports service more than 440,000 aircraft takeoffs and landings per year, and each routinely operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The volume of legitimate activity would appear to limit opportunities for unobserved loading or movement of aircraft.  Moreover, the issues identified by the television reporters were not violations of GA guidelines or any federal aviation regulations.


David Wayne Hooks Airport
David Wayne Hooks Airport is the largest of the three airports featured in the news story.  It is privately owned and operated as a for-profit enterprise.  According to airport personnel, the airport has two full-time security staff, an FAA tower operator who provides visual surveillance, and 24-hour video surveillance. 

These security measures have effectively deterred even petty vandalism.  The airport does not handle air cargo, and most planes are housed in hangars, locked, or disabled when not in use. The jet that the television reporters approached during the filming of their report could not have been moved from the ramp without security personnel noticing them tampering with the jet.


Figure 3. Aerial View of David Wayne Hooks



Figure 5. Aerial View of Lone Star Executive Airport


Lone Star Executive Airport

At Lone Star Executive Airport, television reporters were able to drive alongside a large, empty corporate jet on the tarmac. However, airport staff stated that they have 24-hour surveillance using infrared and motion sensor devices, and that security is enhanced because the Drug Enforcement Agency and Texas Department of Public Safety base their own flight operations from the airport. T

he airport regularly approaches people on the ramp, and had reported several security incidents—including one involving a news crew seeking unauthorized access—to TSA and the local police. Local police have a constant presence at the airport.


David Wayne Hooks Airport Location: Spring, Texas

Specialty: Business and military aviation Products and Services: Fueling, ground handling, passenger services, maintenance, aircraft sales and charter, 24-hour operations Staff: 225 employees

Aircraft Movements: 275,000


Sugar Land Regional Airport Location: Sugar Land, Texas Specialty: Corporate business travel

Products and Services: Fueling, ground handling, crew services, maintenance, luxury terminal, U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspection Staff: 29 municipal employees

Aircraft Movements: 85,000


Lone Star Executive Airport Location: Conroe, Texas Specialty: Private aircraft, military operations

Products and Services: Fuel, maintenance, flight training, aircraft rental, aircraft tie- down and hangar rentals, 24-hour operations Staff: 135 employees, three full-service private companies, 13 additional aviation businesses

Aircraft Movements: 80,000

Figure 2. Houston Airports Visited



Sugar Land Regional Airport

Sugar Land Regional Airport is smaller than Hooks, and has less acreage and fewer services, takeoffs, and landings. It is owned and operated by the municipal government. While the television reporters noted that the fence did not encircle the complex, creating a gap of several hundred feet, airport managers informed us that fencing existed mainly to direct vehicle and pedestrian traffic to desired gateways for safety reasons, not to prevent access.

The perimeter sectors without fencing were in areas where visitors were not expected to approach, such as from the adjoining minimum-security prison, and from a swamp infested with venomous snakes and crocodiles. During our tour, a manager said that fencing to prevent entry was ineffective because anyone who wanted to sneak onto the field could scale a fence.

Aviation officials explained that fencing was ineffective as a security barrier and that meaningful protection came from securing planes in hangars and engaging wheel and cabin locks on aircraft equipped with these secure devices. They further noted that while a reporter might be able to approach and even touch an aircraft at an airport, aircraft vulnerability does not depend on whether someone can touch a plane.


Figure 4. Diagram of Sugar Land Regional



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