Exterior gate area of El Paso International Airport
Photo courtesy EPIA

El Paso International Airport earns perfect safety score from FAA; Announce new K9 teams

Officials with the El Paso International Airport (EPIA) announced Wednesday that the facility had passed the Annual Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 139 Airport Certification Inspection with zero discrepancies.

“Setting the standard for a safe and secure city, is not only a part of the City of El Paso’s Strategic Goals, but also instrumental for growing the core business of air transportation as it allows the airport to receive commercial flights. It also makes El Paso International Airport an attractive facility for airlines to operate safely and efficiently,” said Sam Rodriguez, Aviation Director.

“This achievement is a testament to the resiliency and hard work our excellent staff and I am proud of their contributions in this effort.”

Every year, the FAA conducts a three-day, review and in-person inspection of all commercial airports nationwide to ensure that airports are following national safety standards; successful certification is required for an airport to continue commercial operations.

This year, however due to the pandemic, the inspection was an 18-month examination of the airport’s safety records.

The records inspection in the FAA Part 139 Inspection included a review of:

  • Airport Emergency Plan (AEP)
  • Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) equipment, training, and response times
  • Airport personnel operations and procedures
  • Self-inspection and maintenance logs
  • Fixed Base Operators (FBO) aircraft fueling procedures and fuel truck safety
  • Review of all recorded airfield markings, lighting and signage repairs and work orders
  • Construction Safety

Also on Wednesday, officials with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Transportation and Security Administration (TSA), El Paso Police Department (EPPD), and the El Paso International Airport (EPIA) welcome two new Officer/Canine teams.

The two El Paso Police Officer/Canine joined the airport’s K9 unit. The teams are trained to detect explosives in a busy transportation environment. EPPD Airport Canine Officers work primarily at the airport but can assist in explosive detection tasks citywide and help ensure the safety of major city events throughout the year.

Sgt. Raul Melendez/K9 Riki and Officer Robert Cano/K9 Nik completed the four-month handler training at the TSA’s National Canine Training Center in San Antonio.

Officials share that the duo underwent roughly two and a half weeks of additional, intense training to certify the new K9 teams and increase the efficiency of the Airport K9 Unit.

Passengers departing El Paso International Airport can at any time expect to see the teams working around travelers and will notice the reconfiguration of checkpoint lines to allow for the passengers to walk past the dogs.

The dogs sniff the air currents surrounding travelers and their belongings as they pass through the airport terminal to detect anyone who may be carrying explosives. The canine handlers are trained to read their dog’s change of behavior when it indicates an explosive scent has been detected. If a dog alerts its handler to the presence of explosive odor, officers will follow an established procedure to resolve the alarm.

The use of these highly-trained canines is an effective tool in detecting and deterring the introduction of explosive devices into the nation’s transportation systems while also enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the Airport and TSA’s screening operations.

For more information please visit TSA.gov or flyelpaso.com.