Safe Skies celebrates 10 years, new home at McGhee Tyson

When the Safe Skies Alliance celebrated 10 years in business with an open house at their new facility at 110 McGhee Tyson Blvd. on Dec. 6, guests arrived from near and far. U.S. Congressman John Duncan, Jr., took advantage of technology and talked to the gathering via an audio feed from Washington, D.C.

The Alliance tests security and other apparatus related to the airline industry for the government.

President Tom Jensen said Safe Skies had humble enough beginnings. “We’ve been in business 10 years, and we’ve grown from two employees to 75,” he said.

Safe Skies Alliance is teamed with other organizations such as the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Lab. The non-profit’s membership is comprised of airports, airlines, national laboratories, universities and the security industry, working in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security - Transportation Security Administration.

Safe Skies’ staff of security specialists, test engineers and statisticians offer expertise in evaluating security systems for passenger checkpoints, checked baggage and air cargo, access control and the airport perimeter.

When vendors bring security-type apparatus for the government to consider purchasing, the Transportation Safety Administration or other agencies bring the items to Safe Skies to inspect.

“They ask us to do the testing,” Jensen said.

Duncan praised Jensen and the staff at Safe Skies for their work over the years. “I’m proud of what you have done for the nation,” he said. “I can remember a little more than 10 years ago how you came to see me, and this was a dream. Just one project Safe Skies did saved the taxpayers $30 million.”

Jonathon Griswold, legislative assistant with Duncan’s office, stressed the importance of having security measures that can be trusted. “It’s important for the flying public to be safe and to feel safe,” he said. “If commercial enterprises did their own testing, the public would struggle with having faith in these products.”

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