U.S. House Passes Airport Security Bill Prompted By Charlotte Teen's Death

Feb 2, 2017

It's been more than six years since the death of a Charlotte teenager, who stowed away in the wheel well of an airliner bound for Boston. Legislation prompted by that incident has now been approved by the U.S. House.  

The body of Delvonte Tisdale, 16, was found in late 2010 in the Boston suburb of Milton. Investigators concluded that Tisdale's body fell from the Boeing 737 near the end of a flight from Charlotte, where the teenager apparently scaled an airport security fence and climbed into the jet's wheel well.

Tisdale's death, and questions about how he reached the jet, caught the attention of then newly-elected Democratic Massachusetts congressman William Keating.  He had just finished serving as district attorney in Norfolk County, where the teenager's body was found.

As a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Keating soon introduced a bill aimed at improving airport perimeter security. The House passed one version of the measure last year and representatives passed a revised bill this week.

The "Airport Perimeter and Access Control Security Act of 2017" would require the Transportation Security Administration to make a system-wide assessment of airport perimeter security, including "access control points."   The TSA would also have to provide regular updates on its assessments of airport security.

The Associated Press reported last year that there were at 39 breaches of perimeter security at U.S. airports in 2015, including two incidents at Charlotte's airport.  Rep. Keating has compared such breaches to having your "door locked..but your window's wide open." 

Lawmakers are also mindful of more recent airport security incidents.   Last month, a gunman fatally shot five people at the Ft. Lauderdale airport.   Keating's legislation now moves to the Senate.