The Fifth Estate Presents Fasten Your Seatbelts

Friday, Jan. 29, at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT), on CBC-TV

On Christmas Day 2009, faith in the safety of air travel was shaken when a 23-year-old Nigerian man boarded a U.S.-bound plane and then, over Canadian airspace, tried to detonate a bomb he had hidden in his underwear. The bomb failed to go off, and the only serious physical damage was to the bomber himself, when the explosives he was hiding burst into flames. But, once again, we were left questioning the effectiveness of airport security in this post-Sept. 11 world.

In 2005, the fifth estate addressed that very issue in a documentary called Fasten Your Seatbelts. In it, Hana Gartner and the fifth estate team enlisted the help of Steve Elson, a U.S. Navy-trained covert operations and security expert, to evaluate airport security at Canada’s busiest airports. Going undercover, Elson showed how security systems can be breached and that Canadian airports, despite governments committing billions of dollars, are nowhere near as secure as authorities would have us believe.

Five years onward, in the wake of the arrest of the so-called “underpants bomber”, the fifth estate takes a new look at that original research and finds that not much has changed at all. 

the fifth estate will re-broadcast an updated version of Fasten Your Seatbelts, including a new interview with security expert Steve Elson. Passengers who hope that expensive new body scanners, about to be installed at major airports, will make flying safer should tune in for Steve Elson’s findings—that the scanners are not fool-proof.

Executive producer of the fifth estate is Sally Reardon. CBC News Network rebroadcasts the fifth estate on Saturdays, at 8 p.m. ET, Sundays, at 7 p.m. ET, and Tuesdays, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

For more information on the fifth estate, visit their website at www.cbc.ca/fifth and join us on Facebook.

About the author