SIU working to improve safety at airports nationally

Work being done behind the scenes locally could make your next trip to the airport not only more convenient, but safer.

Since 9/11, hundreds of millions of dollars have gone toward airport security. Yet over a decade, the Associated Press found 268 safety breaches at American airports.

As the deputy director of Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona, Southern Illinois University alum Steve Grubbs works at one of the busiest airports in the country.

“Last year we served 42.5 million passengers with over 436,000 operations at the airport,” Grubbs said.

Now Grubbs is back at his alma mater with representatives from major airports across the country to learn how to make your next flight safer.

“A lot of the time safety people are reactive, but we want to get to the point that we’re proactive and can prevent those future incidents and accidents from happening,” Grubbs said.

SIU Aviation Professor Mike Robertson said in order to be more proactive, you must first be forgiving.

“Basically, you’re trying to develop a culture where it’s OK if you make a mistake, to report that mistake before an accident or an incident occurs,” Robertson said.

“We always talk about safety, security, and customer service, in that order,” Grubbs said. “We don’t want it to be just a tagline, but we want it to be a part of our culture.”

The SMS security system SIU uses to train aviation students and airline professionals is currently recommended by the Federal Aviation Administration and is expected to be mandatory in the next few years.

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