An average of 14,000 passengers fly in and out of Reno's airport each day, and security has dramatically increased since September 11, 2001 to keep travel safe for every one of them.
For instance, when an America West pilot reported smoke in the cockpit at the Reno-Tahoe International airport last week, it set off a chain reaction of events involving new security measures.
The response was directed from the airport's new state of the art Airport Communications Center. Housed in a secret location and located well away from the tarmac and terminal, the center can monitor every facet of airport operations.
Also new is the Emergency Operations Center, which allows a host of people to manage an emergency from a single location...everything from weather-related flight delays or a major accident.
A disaster can be managed from the scene. A half-million dollar mobile incident command center paired with a host of high tech gadgets, like a powerful camera mounted on a 40-foot telescoping pole.
Satellite communications for Internet and television access allows vital information that can be sent directly back to the Emergency Operations Center.
A vehicle that appears to be just a big Ford truck is actually a 160-thousand dollar tool used to measure runway conditions. A friction tester checks for the slipperiness of the runway. Information used to inform pilots before landing is carefully scrutinized. In the winter, quick decisions regarding snow removal and de-icing can be made, and removing slick rubber build-up from repeated landings can be tackled in the summer.
Also new is the K-9 Unit...three German Sheperds have undergone six weeks of training to be able to sniff out a variety of explosives. Reno-Tahoe now joins 80 other airports nationwide by having this security feature. The K-9 Unit is part of a Transportation Security Administration funded program.
Since September 11th, Reno-Tahoe has increased security features worth more than $4.5 million. The majority of the costs for these projects was funded by grants awarded by the Federal Aviation Administration.