The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating five incidents at Florida airports _ including one at Tampa International Airport _ in which airline employees violated security procedures during final screening of passengers boarding flights.
The five are among 30 such incidents under study nationwide. All occurred Oct. 31 or later.
FAA spokesman Christopher White stressed that the violations, which were seen by FAA employees assigned to watch for them, occurred after the passengers had gone through the traditional screening procedures that involve passing carryons through X-ray machines and examining some passengers with electronic hand wands.
"These were specific incidents at the gates themselves, as the passengers were about to board," White said.
He said there probably have been many other occasions when passengers carried forbidden objects aboard aircraft because they were missed by screeners or by airline employees, "but we have no idea what those numbers are."
The incident at TIA occurred on Oct. 31 as Spirit Airlines Flight 632 was preparing to leave for Detroit. The FAA agent assigned to the flight "found that the secondary screening involved improper procedures," White said.
He would not be more specific except to say that secondary screening may include questioning of passengers and additional searches of carryon bags.
Fourteen people who had already boarded the Spirit flight were asked to get off. The plane was searched, the passengers were screened a second time and the flight took off on time.
Of the four other Florida incidents, three occurred in Miami and one in Fort Lauderdale.