"Capital Airspace Security Breach: Inquiry into the Landing of a Gyrocopter on the Capitol Lawn"
Aug 05 2015
WASHINGTON — Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released a bipartisan staff report examining the April 15, 2015 Capitol airspace security breach in which Doug Hughes landed a gyrocopter on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol, exposing gaps in our efforts to secure the airspace over Washington, D.C., and in investigating and responding to potential threats.
"Despite technological limitations, law enforcement officials had the opportunity to conduct further analysis of Mr. Hughes and his intentions two years before the gyrocopter incident occurred," said Chairman Johnson.
"As we watched a gyrocopter land in front of the U.S. Capitol building, many of us asked whether current security measures are functioning properly, were the right protocols followed, and whether the agencies charged with protecting this airspace acted appropriately," said Chairman Johnson. "While a perfect security apparatus is impossible to achieve, law enforcement agencies need to do more to help ensure people such as Mr. Hughes are not able slip through the cracks and carry out unlawful and unsafe plans, especially within or near our nation’s Capital."
"On April 15, a highly unusual scene played out at Congress' footsteps when a gyrocopter landed on the western lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Thankfully, no one was harmed. However, the virtually undetected gyrocopter flight through highly restricted airspace drew attention to gaps in security, and led to serious questions about the coordination among the agencies who work to protect the Capitol, the White House, and the highly-restricted airspace above sensitive areas of Washington, DC," said Ranking Member Carper. "This bipartisan report, generated by the Committee’s majority and the minority staffs, took a much-needed assessment of the gyrocopter incident to identify what agencies did well, both that day and in an investigation of the pilot in 2013. It also examined what needs to change in order to prevent another similar, and possibly more serious, incident from happening in the future. I hope the agencies involved will review this report, its findings, and its recommendations, especially when it comes to improving interagency coordination and communication. I look forward to working with these agencies and their leadership to apply lessons learned in order to ensure the continued safety and security of the protected airspace above our nation’s capital."
The committee staff highlighted five findings in its report. The findings are:
Based on the committee’s fact-finding, the committee staff made four recommendations in its report. The recommendations are:
A copy of the committee’s staff report can be found here.