TSA chooses San Jose airport to test new technologies

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has selected Mineta San Jose International Airport as one of two airports in the country to take part in a pilot project to test different technologies.

Through the years, intruders have gotten onto the airfield at San Jose’s airport. Back in 2014, surveillance cameras captured a 15-year-old stowaway who hopped the fence and hid in the wheel well on a plane bound to Hawaii and survived.

“With software and with technology, we will have more ability for our personnel's eyes to be on many more areas of the airport,” said Airport Spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes. “There's only so much a perimeter fence can do.”

The TSA is investing $4 million for more sophisticated technologies adding new video cameras as well as laser, infrared, fence, and ground sensors.

Bay Area Congressional leaders Zoe Lofgren and Eric Swalwell have been pushing for federal funding.

“I’ve come to see just from the incidents in the Bay Area and across the country, our airports are quite vulnerable to perimeter breaches,” said Swalwell. “A lot of these airports are vast in their acreage and the terrain that's around them.”

Phil Beltran knows firsthand airport officials can't watch everything. He worked airport security at Mineta San Jose Airport until the year 2000. He said the sensors will help especially at night when lighting is limited and unattended planes are parked overnight.

“It is almost impossible 24/7 to guard and make sure nobody intrudes,” said Beltran. “This will help officers detect. I think it's long overdue for American aviation. I think it needs to become the way we do business.”

The airport serves about 14 million passengers a year. Travelers said the cutting-edge technology would no doubt make them feel more at ease given the airport's past security breaches.”

“Security should be the top priority especially if people are in one place like a plane,” said Arsalan Khan who is visiting from London. 

“Somebody who does have malicious intent could be the next one to do it,” said Suzie Fujimoto of Pleasanton. 

Miami International Airport is the other airport that was chosen for the test program. If successful, the new strategies could be implemented in other airports across the country.