Bigger planes mean beefed-up security measures at Pangborn

By Jay Patrick
World staff writer
Posted May 05, 2008

EAST WENATCHEE — The Transportation Security Administration says Pangborn Memorial Airport must shore up security before bigger planes start serving the airport this fall.


Nothing is wrong with Pangborn's security as it is. The TSA simply has higher standards for airports that serve bigger planes and presumably more passengers. Horizon Air, the only airline serving Pangborn, plans to switch from the 37-seat aircraft it uses now to 76-seat aircraft. Horizon hasn't announced a date for the change, only that it will probably happen in the fall.

TSA spokesman Dwayne Baird said the agency rates airports from 1 to 4, with Category 1 requiring the most security. Sea-Tac International Airport is a Category 1 airport. Right now Pangborn is a Category 4 but will become a Category 3 when the larger planes arrive.

The new rating means Pangborn must erect a 6-foot barbed-wire-topped fence along two miles on its western boundary that right now is unfenced. The unfenced stretch is about a third of the entire length of the west side of the property. The rest of the facility is fenced.

Through the open portion on the west side a person can conceivably walk onto the grounds and the runway area. Pangborn Manager Pat Moore said she doesn't know of an incident in which a person trespassed on airport property, or made it onto the runway.

The TSA is also making the airport replace numbered keypads, which currently secure gates and doors that open onto the airfield, with cards that would be swiped for entry. That way the airport can ensure that access codes don't leak to people not authorized to be on the grounds, Moore said.

Lost cards can easily be deactivated, in the same way some hotels use them.

The improvements should run about $500,000. Federal grants will cover the bill, Moore said.

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