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Van Nuys Airport's Security at Issue

September 25, 2002|MASSIE RITSCH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Describing Van Nuys and other general aviation airports as just as vulnerable to terrorists as larger commercial airports, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter wants the San Fernando Valley airport to examine its security--something the airport says it has already done.

Galanter, whose district includes Van Nuys, heads the council committee that oversees Los Angeles airports. She introduced a motion Tuesday ordering a security plan for Van Nuys Airport.

The 730-acre airport averages 1,500 takeoffs and landings a day, more than any other general aviation airfield in the United States, according to airport officials.

"We cannot focus solely on security at commercial aviation airports and forget about general aviation facilities," Galanter said in a news release. "Locking our front door to terrorists does us no good if we leave the back window wide open."

It is too easy for terrorists to steal those aircraft and airport vehicles for use as weapons, she said.

Van Nuys Airport, which is home to nearly 800 aircraft, has evaluated its security and continues to make improvements, such as installing a new fence around its perimeter, spokeswoman Stacy Geere said Tuesday. Los Angeles police have added patrols, augmenting the airport's police force.

Airport officials believe the measures being taken make it one of the most secure general aviation facilities in the nation, Geere said.

"We have a very comprehensive program in place, and we welcome the opportunity to brief the councilwoman," she said.

A major tenant agreed that the airport is far more secure than most noncommercial airfields.

"We're pretty diligent," said Rick Voorhis, president of Van Nuys Flight Center. "People that shouldn't be here stick out like a sore thumb."

The City Council will consider Galanter's motion Tuesday.

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