The government Monday announced fines against 26 airlines totaling $1.18 million for failure to detect fake weapons smuggled past security systems, but officials said detection has improved markedly over the last two years.
Airlines cited by the Federal Aviation Administration allegedly failed in 156 instances to detect simulated guns, knives, explosives or other fake weapons taken through airport screening points during 1988 by federal agents.
The detection rate for all airlines checked was 93.1%, the FAA said, compared to 88.2% in a July, 1988, report and 78.9% in a 1987 test.
FAA fines for security lapses have totaled nearly $4 million since the program began two years ago, the FAA said. About 50 airlines have been cited for 557 detection failures.
The agency said it ran more than 6,800 checks of airline security systems during 1988.
Under FAA rules, airlines are responsible for screening passengers and their carry-on luggage.
The largest fines were $186,000 against American Airlines for 24 alleged violations, $151,000 against Continental Airlines for 20, $136,000 against Eastern for 18 and $132,000 against USAir for 15. Other fines ranged from $1,000 for single violations to $92,000.