Security agents working in western airports are trained to detect all kinds of devices that could put a flight in jeopardy: from explosives disguised as paper, to medicine bottle-sized bombs with tiny electric detonators – if it’s a risk, agents are trained to spot it. But despite best efforts, even they are fallible, and security sometimes fails.
“The infinitely perfect does not exist,” said Sylvain Prevost, who trains the security experts protecting airports in Paris, France.
Some 85,000 people hold red badges at Charles de Gaulle airport that grant them access to restricted areas for a period of three years. Many of them work with private companies that are not under direct government control. To complicate matters, 70 workers of French Airports have had their security clearance revoked amid fears of “radicalisation.” It is unknown how many still working could have jihadist sympathies.
Investigators are hesitant to speculate on what caused EgyptAir Flight 804 to crash. The plane took off from Charles de Gaulle with 66 people on board before falling into a spin and crashing into the Mediterranean Sea.
The cause of the crash is so far unclear, and officials have been unwilling to speculate whether failures in security contributed to the crash.
“It’s possible to get any kind of dangerous object through every airport in the world due to the contradiction between time and security,” said noted criminologist Alain Bauer. “Everybody wants to get in the plane fast …. so everybody compromises on time and security.”
French investigators are running background checks and interviewing all ground staff at the airport who had even indirect contact with Flight 804, but even if their inquiry results in no blame being assigned, one thing is clear: The airports of the world over can no longer be considered safe.