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"French film raises fresh fears over airport safety"

Thursday, December 21, 2006

French film raises fresh fears over airport safety

A French television reporter managed to smuggle explosive material and
knives onto American and French passenger planes apparently revealing
serious flaws in security at French airports.

Appearing in a documentary made for state television due to be aired on
Friday, the reporter has raised fresh questions about French air safety
after accusations last month that it was too easy to gain access to aircraft
at Paris' main airport.

Reporter Laurent Richard, aided by security expert Christophe Naudin, used
hidden cameras to show themselves carrying "de-activated" Semtex explosive
and a detonator in their hand luggage aboard an Air France flight to Nice.

On another occasion, the pair carried two box cutters aboard a Delta
airlines flight from Paris to New York, with security staff not looking at
their screens as the weapons passed through the x-ray machines. 

Box cutters were used by the hijackers in the September 11, 2001 attacks on
U.S. cities.

The film also shows the duo packing a Semtex-like substance in their
luggage, which was subsequently put into the hold of a domestic French
flight despite x-ray checks on the suitcase.

Richard said the substance could not have exploded but had the same chemical
characteristics of the plastic explosive Semtex, and should, in theory, have
been detected.

Air France and French airport authorities declined immediate comment ahead
of Friday's screening.

Richard is also filmed driving a lorry into a supposedly secure area of
Paris's main Roissy airport, passing three check points by simply showing
his driving licence and finishing up just a few metres (feet) from a parked

All the security breaches were made over the past month.

In November, a union representing Paris airport workers said a film
apparently showing a block of clay being smuggled on to an aircraft
demonstrated how easy it would be for terrorists to get plastic explosives
onto a plane.

Airport security, which underwent a fundamental transformation after
September 11, 2001, returned to the media spotlight in August when British
police said they had foiled a plot to blow up aircraft flying to the United

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