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FAA details post-Sept. 11 security delays

At least 10,000 passengers in Atlanta were delayed last month when a man illegally entered the terminal area.  

By Beth Lewandowski
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Security concerns delayed more than 1,100 flights during a six-week period that concluded earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday.

Between October 30 and December 16, the agency said, 1,111 flights were delayed -- most due to minor security breaches. Security concerns also prompted airport officials across the country ask passengers on 353 flights to deplane and go through security checkpoints a second time because of improper initial screening.

One of most publicized delayed-flight incidents occurred in mid-November at Hartsfield Atlanta (Georgia) International, the nation's busiest airport. The airport shut down for three hours and 10,000 people were re-screened after a man entered the terminal area through an exit, bypassing security checkpoints. He later said he'd gone back to look for a missing camera bag and was in a hurry to return to his gate.

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At Charlotte (North Carolina) Douglas International Airport, authorities discovered a magnetometer had been unplugged on December 16, delaying thousands of passengers -- many of whom had to be rescreened.

The statistics released Friday may not include all U.S. security-related delays or cancellations since the September 11 terrorist attacks, agency spokesman Bill Shumann said. Local airport authorities or airlines may not have filed reports with the FAA, he said.

A new regulation proposed by the Department of Transportation could change that by requiring the nation's largest airlines to file a monthly report detailing the causes of all delays and cancellations.

Currently, the DOT requires airlines to report the number and extent of delays, but does not ask for specific information on the causes.

The proposed changes, announced in Thursday's Federal Register, would allow the DOT to better analyze the underlying causes of delays and cancellations, officials said. Delays would be placed in one of three categories: those that are the air carrier's responsibility; those caused by extreme weather; and those caused by airport security or passenger screening problems.

The FAA also is expected to announce next week that airline delays overall dipped significantly in November. FAA officials attribute the drop to fewer airline flights during the month, particularly at the major airports, and moderate weather conditions.


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